New Orleans, Louisiana native Dawn Richard (aka D∆WN), the daughter of Chocolate Milk percussionist and vocalist Frank Richard, released her first contemporary R&B solo material under the name Dawn Angeliqué. The album Been a While, recorded while the singer was attending the University of New Orleans and working as a cheerleader for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, came out on the Yeah! Brother label in October 2005, around the time she made her first appearance on Making the Band 3. The third edition of that reality series produced Danity Kane, a group that released two Billboard 200-topping albums, Danity Kane (2006) and Welcome to the Dollhouse (2008), prior to splitting. Then, along with Diddy and Kalenna Harper, she became one-third of Diddy-Dirty Money, a short-lived group that debuted in 2009, released an album (2010's Last Train to Paris), and then a mixtape (2011's Love Love vs. Hate Love) prior to ending in 2012.
Richard continued a solo career that developed during and after the split, reunion, and second split of Danity Kane. Her self-released material was progressive and often conceptual, willfully oblivious to genre restrictions as it twisted R&B, pop, and electronic music with emotive and frequently thrilling results. The Prelude to a Telltale Heart (2011), a mixtape, and Armor On (2012), an EP, preceded her second official album, Goldenheart (2013). Part two of her "heart" trilogy, Blackheart (2015), went farther out and topped Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. She worked toward the release of the trilogy's finale with singles on the Fade to Mind and Local Action labels and eventually signed to MBK for her fourth proper album. ~ Andy Kellman