Female R&B vocalists of today often get compared to names like Aaliyah and Janet Jackson, singers who were also known for their dancing prowess. But one name that often gets left out of the conversation is Mya.
The Washington, D.C. native, who's African-American and Italian, had her first foray in the arts through dance, taking up ballet, jazz and tap as a toddler. She even earned the opportunity to study under the legendary tap dancer, Savion Glover, and got her big break in entertainment by landing a gig as a dancer on BET's now-defunct show, Teen Summit. Mya caught the music bug and recorded a demo that would ultimately pique the interest of Interscope Records, with whom the talented teen inked a recording contract.
Dropping her eponymous debut album in 1998, fans immediately took to Mya, who impressed with her nifty dance moves and Chocolate City charm. Being drop-dead gorgeous and a solid vocalist didn't hurt matters either, nor did her collaborations with some of the hottest artists in the game, including Sisqo ("It's All About Me") and Silkk Tha Shocker ("Movin' On"), both of which played a major part in the album earning platinum certification.
Before you knew it, Mya was considered an A-list artist, appearing on smash singles like Ol' Dirty Bastard's contribution to the Bullworth soundtrack, "Ghetto Superstar," as well as the star-studded The Rugrats Movie Soundtrack cut, "Take Me There," both of which boosted her profile further and raised anticipation for her second LP.
The public didn't have to wait too long for it to arrive, as the singers sophomore effort, Fear of Flying, landed on April 25, 2000. With 72,000 copies sold within its first week of release and debuted at the No. 15 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart, both of which were considered disappointing stats and didn't bode well for its commercial prospects.
The album's lead single, the Jadakiss-assisted "The Best of Me," didn't take off as expected and Fear of Flying was on its way to being considered a bust until the album's second single, "Case of the Ex" struck gold with fans, prompting Interscope to re-release the LP, which would go on to earn Mya her second platinum plaque and stamp her place within the game.
Fifteen years after her sophomore effort hit shelves, we gave Fear of Flying another spin and picked its five best songs. Did your favorite song make the cut? Check out our selections below.
Mya turns down the lights with the slow-burning ballad, "Man in My Life." Flipping Rod Temperton's masterful songwriting into a dedication to her beau, Mya takes a page out of the book of Michael Jackson and does his timeless "Lady in My Life" record much justice. Co-produced by the Mercenaries, with additional work done by Trackmasters, the familiar melody feels warm and is inviting with its warm embrace of plush percussion. Vocally, Mya is as sensuous as on any other selection on the LP and shines with her subtle nuance and command of the track. While imitating the brilliance of MJ is no small feat, she completes the mission and comes through with flying colors on this track.
Produced by Knobody, the title track wins with its use of guitar strings and delicate percussion, making for a serene soundbed. "I've got a fear of flying on a plane cause we've got no say in how it ends up / Well, in my mind, love's the very same way, that's why I never give my heart to no one," Mya admits while comparing her fear of heartbreak to the anxiety of catching a flight. "I've got a fear of flying high, but I'm compelled to spread my wings, so / It's all in my mind," she sings on the hook. The song displays a growing maturity in her artistry with its poignant lyrics and a solid vocal performance.
While missing from the original version of Fear of Flying, this lively number appeared on the re-release and is quite the treat. Produced by Swedish production duo Bag & Arnthor, with additional production from Damon Elliott, the track opens with Mya crooning, "I tried so hard to make you understand that it's over / Yes it's over," before the beat drops and the real fun begins. She lets her ex-lover know that any chances of reconciliation are out of the question. By the time you get to the chorus, Mya croons, "And again and again and again and again / You'll come back to me, boy, but you don't hear me, no," which makes it quite clear that she is more than fed up and has given her old flame the gas-face.
Swizz Beatz lends his production talents to this effort, which was one of the last songs to make the cut for the final Fear of Flying track list. The effort didn't fare as well on the charts as past singles, but it was a hit on urban radio and served as the defacto announcement of Mya's sophomore campaign. The stunning beauty may have done her thing on the record, but the heat gets turned up when label mate and member of the Lox, Jadakiss steps in for a superb guest verse. "I got so many bags of money that they won't fit in the bank / And I'ma do you just like Tony did it to Frank / But I'ma make sure that both y'all win / Let em keep the place, you move, and I'ma pay both y'all rent," he raps, annihilating the track. Too bad the remix with Jay Z was too good for anyone to really remember this version, but that fact aside, the O.G. rendition still gets our love and affection regardless.
"It's after midnight and she's on your phone / Saying come over cause she's all alone / I could tell it was your ex by your tone / Why is she calling now after so long?" That recognizable phrase is from Mya's 2000 hit, "Case of the Ex." Produced by renowned beatmaker Tricky Stewart, the uptempo beat has club-banger written all over it, with jittery kicks and snares. Mya glides right over the track with her sultry vocals. The second single released from Fear of Flying, "Case of the Ex" was a modest hit upon its initial release, but slowly burned its way up the charts, ultimately peaking at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning her the second Top 10 single of her young career. Fifteen years later, the song continues to be a favorite among the ladies -- and a nightmare for the fellas.