Beneath the stylized selfies that make up the majority of Tiana Major9's Instagram grid is another recurring type of post: highly designed, soulful affirmations. (“I am strong, I am resilient, and I am open to love,” reads one. “Dear anxiety,” begins another.) But these declarations of self-love and acceptance aren’t just for the 'gram — they’re a core part of the 24-year-old singer-songwriter's everyday life. Meditation has been a game-changer for Major9, and her mantras are no small part of this ritual. “I have to constantly make the effort not only to say those affirmations, but actually put them in practice,” she tells Bustle. “It’s quite hard.”
When it came time to record her debut EP At Sixes and Sevens — a stirring mix of R&B, reggae, jazz, and soul — she sprinkled a few of these affirmations alongside her six confessional songs. The repetitive phrases, underscored by delicate instrumentals, serve as reminders to Major9 and her listeners to treat themselves with tenderness. (“What’s mine won’t miss me,” one declares. “I accept my emotions and I allow them to serve their purpose,” laments a second.) And paired with her reggae-infused tracks, the album recalls Major9's Jamaican roots and East London upbringing spent listening to Afro-Caribbean beats — with her own unique spin.
But her big break came long before At Sixes and Sevens. Last year her song with EARTHGANG, "Collide," was a highlight of the Queen & Slim soundtrack. The Lena Waithe film confronts police brutality through the lens of a young Black couple on the run; Major9's lyrics perfectly embodied the movie's message of resistance and Black love. "I had no idea how the world would receive [Queen & Slim] but I didn't care,” says the artist. "I like to challenge and provoke with my music so being on [this project] just made so much sense."
With her new EP, the artist once again excavates the power of relationships — this time pulling from her own romantic connections and most cherished platonic friendships. "Music allows me to open up," she says of writing love songs. "Every time I write a song, it is a realization. It makes me think not just about love, but the way I love.”
In the Bustle Booth below, Tiana Major9 reveals what she's watching, and what she wishes she could sing at karaoke.
In The Bustle Booth
What's your coffee order?
Iced Caramel Latte. Extra Caramel
Favorite overused movie quote?
"Deena's beautiful, and she's always been beautiful... but I've got the voice, Curtis! I've got the voice! You can't put me in back; you just can't!"
What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
I loveeeeed The Fairly OddParents
What is one movie or TV show you're currently obsessed with?
I May Destroy You by Michaela Coel
Who is your celeb idol?
What are your all-time favorite song lyrics?
"He says there's no me without him, please help me forget about him" — Lauryn Hill
What is something you would want people to say about you?
"She is a musician"
Go-to karaoke song?
"Weak" by SWV