Massachusetts-bred rapper BIA is a force to be reckoned with.
Though her name started ringing louder after featuring on rapper Russ’ “Best On Earth,” make no mistake: BIA has been active in the music industry for years. Her nasty flow snagged the stunning beauty a co-signed feature from Grammy-winning rap legend, Lil John, in "BIA BIA".
It was the discovery of her music video for "High" on YouTube by rapper-turned-manager Fam-Lay that opened his eyes to a clear distinction between BIA and other female artists at the time in terms of lyricism. It took time, but he eventually opened doors for the struggling artist that led to her signing a production deal with super-producer Pharrell's i am OTHER label under RCA Records. A quick career shift brought her to star in Oxygen’s reality show Sister of Hip Hop, a reality show about five female artists "navigating their way through the male-dominated music industry." BIA explained in a 2015 interview on Ladies First that her two seasons there were enough to, "open up so many doors for me." One of those doors was being an opening act for Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman tour. After four years of not putting out any new music, BIA split from RCA due to frustrations with the label and A&R team. While BIA has said in previous interviews that the separation from i am OTHER was in her best interest, she also explained there wasn't any ill-will or regrets in sight.
It didn’t take long to prove how strong her bounce-back game was because the independent artist signed with Sony under Epic Records only a year later. The success she’s had in her For Certain EP (which reached #9 on the Billboard Heatseekers Album Charts), speaks for itself as singles like "COVER GIRL" became a viral sensation during quarantine. Meanwhile, "WHOLE LOTTA MONEY" hit #12 on the US Spotify Viral 50 Chart.
Now, BIA is a proud leader of a new generation of creatives. So much so, the National Hockey League sought her out as the perfect bridge to a new demographic for their organization by featuring her track, “SKATE,” in the 2021 Playoff promos. The talented lyricist writes her own rhymes and embraces her natural east coast confidence while being a down-to-earth role model; the potion that’s brought us this pro-women superhero, proving that not all heroes wear capes; some wear Fendi and Bottega.
R29Unbothered chatted with BIA while she was painting her nails *lol* about constantly uplifting women through her music: A message that women can be beautiful and dainty, but never afraid to handle business, "still talk that shit, and get to the point.”
R29Unbothered: COVER GIRL was an undeniable viral sensation. Now, WHOLE LOTTA MONEY is following that same success. What’s the secret sauce to your creative process when making your hits?
BIA: "I would say just having fun and protecting the vibe. I’ve learned that when I go into the studio [and] I set too many expectations or I put other people’s expectations on me, I never get what I’m looking for. When I go in and I have fun with my friends and I just stay true to who I am and what we do, that’s when we get the best music."
You’ve been getting a lot of love for the track from a lot of women in the entertainment industry - Lizzo, Cardi B, and Kylie Jenner. How has getting all this positive feminine energy helped your growth on a personal level? You deserve a sponsor from Fendi and Bottega after that one!
"Well, that’s the best part for me because, especially when I was coming up, I didn’t have the most support from women. So it’s beautiful to see because we’re in new times right now and I think everybody brings something so different to the table and we’re all in a space where there’s so many people winning, so we’re able to actually appreciate it. When there’s only one person doing their thing, it’s so hard to appreciate what everybody’s bringing to the table because there’s not enough space. But everybody’s so positive and uplifting and that’s all I could hope for. I’m a girl’s girl at the end of the day. I love girls. I do it for the girls. That’s what all my music is about. It just resonates so much more when your peers are uplifting it."
That’s amazing! But you also definitely deserve a sponsorship from Fendi and Bottega after that song, just saying.
"Thank you! I love Bottega, girl! Bottega has been my jam for a while so it’s just lit. I’m hoping they seen the song and hopefully we can build a relationship."
You manifested that when you did SKATE and now the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are using a reimagined version of the song in their promos. Congratulations! That’s major. What does it mean to you to be the person tapped by the NHL to help the league’s commitment to attracting a new demographic of fans?
"Yes, thank you so much! We’re the first of Latin or Black descent to even [have a promo song for NHL] so that’s an honor to me. Just being able to bring different people and cultures together through music is just the best thing for me. It feels so good."
Of course, I’ve been loving the For Certain album. A personal fave is "FREE BIA (1ST DAY OUT)." That song goes! And the video was ridiculous! What specifically influenced the song and visuals behind it?
"For the most part, that was my story. That was a real personal one for me. That was a story of coming up in the music business and finally getting to that place of freedom where I can make my own decisions and I’m in control of my own career. I linked up with [Creative Director and Photographer] Johnny Cinematic and he’s just a genius. He had a couple different treatment ideas in mind and I told him, ‘Listen Johnny, this song is so personal to me. I really want to capture what I’m saying.’ He hit it right on the nail. The whole concept being in an asylum, he was a genius for that."
Well, when you hit us with “Fuck the whole industry” at the very end of the song there’s no mistaking what your message is.
"At the end of the day, everybody wants to be an artist. Everybody wants to be a rapper or be famous, but people have to know the business. If not, people will take advantage of you, so that’s what that song is for me. That’s an ode to all the artists to just really know what you’re doing and know the business first."