Of all The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kandi Burruss is the least desperate.
The Georgia native is a music industry veteran who has produced songs for artists including Mariah Carey, Usher and Alicia Keys. She even took on the lost-cause vocals of Kim Zolciak last season and, through some sort of engineering wizardry, turned out a legitimate dance hit in "Tardy for the Party."
You also won't find Burruss doing much of the trash talking or backstabbing inherent to the Housewives franchise. In fact, Burruss wasn't even sure she wanted to come back for another season. "To be honest with you, I didn't know if I was coming back," she says. "I was like, 'Eh, I don't know.'" It was the businesswoman in her who made the call.
"It's both good and bad being on this show. I'm glad to be part of a successful series, of course, but there are other things that [the cast] can't talk about on our end that we feel should be better," she says. "I didn't feel like I had to do the show, but I knew it would be a good tool to do the things I want to do outside of it." First up? A new album, out Dec. 14.
Burruss talks to TVGuide.com about working with Kim on new material, being forced to make peace with NeNe, and beginning a new relationship on TV. (Her fiancé, Ashley Jewell, who viewers got to know in Season 2, was killed in a bar fight last year).
Oh, and there's that online talk show about sex, too ...
TVGuide.com: I have to know. Did you work on Kim's new song, "Google Me"?
Burruss: No, actually a friend of mine did.
TVGuide.com: Ah, good. Because "Tardy for the Party" was better.
Burruss: Yeah [laughs]. I did do a new song for Kim called "The Ring Didn't Mean A Thing." You'll see it this season. Kim and I also went on a promo tour, which was a little crazy. She performs live. It was small, just three cities, and I kind of took her like an opening act. We did a tour bus and everything. It was ... interesting.
TVGuide.com: And how is your relationship with NeNe these days?
Burruss: We're cool. We don't have any beef this year. What happened last year was really ... I don't even know how it happened. It didn't even make sense. It was a moment that went too far.
At a certain point when we were promoting the season, it did start to get out of control. We started having arguments over the radio over stupid stuff, and the network had to reach out and say, "You guys need to calm down." After that, we both kind of checked ourselves. Now we have no issues.
TVGuide.com: Bravo actually stepped in to break up the fighting between you two?
Burruss: Well, because it got really bad. One day, we had this big blowout on the radio in Atlanta. That got posted everywhere. I guess if they can't catch it on camera they're like, "You guys, what's the point of this?"
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TVGuide.com: You're like the mirror for viewers, like you're the only one aware of the ridiculousness going on around you.
Burruss: It's crazy, but I cannot hide my facial expressions. (Laughs.) I noticed that a lot my first season. Some of those faces I was making? I just thought, "Oh my goodness." I laughed so hard in the last episode when Kim caught me staring at her wig being all messed up. I don't mean to look like that!
TVGuide.com: You begin dating National Football League running back Willis McGahee this season. What was that like with the cameras following you?
Burruss: Honestly, I would never do that again. He's a cool guy, but I think when you put it out there in public too soon, before you even have a chance to really get to know each other, I think it gives too many people the opportunity to make an opinion. And they do it before you get to make your own opinion!
TVGuide: Did you both talk about the fact that your relationship would be a part of the show?
Burruss: Yeah, I told him. I was like, "Uh, I don't know if you really want to do this. People will start saying crazy things about you on the Internet." He said he was used to that. But there's a major difference, to me, in terms of the things that people say about athletes compared to what people say about entertainers. Especially reality TV stars. With us, people are constantly all up in our business, like deep up into it. But with athletes, it's totally different. I don't think he was ready.
Right now, we're friends. That's all I can say.
TVGuide.com: In one of the previews ofr this season, there's a peak of you doing your online talk show about sex. How did Kandi Koated Nights come about?
Burruss: I was talking to fans on Ustream live, and you know how you always get someone who types crazy stuff in the chat room that runs on the side? Well, somebody was putting nasty comments and I said, "Whoever is posting those nasty things, you need to wait until after midnight. Then we'll do 'Kandi After Dark.'" I was just being funny, but then when midnight came all these people started tweeting at me about what was going on with it. So we did it. By the end of the night, we had something like 80,000 people who had been in and out of the site.
It's just me and a couple of my friends, we have celebrity guests, and we talk about a different sexual topic every week. ... I'd say it's like Howard Stern meets Chelsea Lately meets The View meets Sue Johanson.
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TVGuide.com: Tell me about your upcoming album Kandi Koated.
Burruss: The album takes you on a trip through a relationship. It's all about finding love, having love, losing love ... There are a couple of let's-get-back-together songs. But it takes you through all those different emotions. It's an R&B album, and there some very big ballads on there. I had songs from Ne-Yo, Justice League, Brian Michael Cox and Jazzy Pha, who produced the single "Leave U."
TVGuide.com: Next month you start touring with Fantasia, who is a friend of yours. She's been going through a tough time. Is she ready to tour?
Burruss: She's definitely ready to tour. Last year after AJ had passed ... Fantasia reached out to me. She was my shoulder to cry on. I was really sad when I heard she was having such a hard time. Sometimes, things can be overwhelming. I just know when you are an entertainer and you have these kind of moments, when you can get back on stage and perform, you can pour out all that frustration there.
TVGuide.com: It's been awhile since you last on a big tour. Are you nervous?
Burruss: Let's just say I'm glad I'm opening, because Fantasia is so fantastic and you don't want to come after that. I haven't been on a real tour in so long, so for me, it's going to be like having that new artist feeling all over again.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Monday at 10/9c on Bravo.