Bia Reveals ‘Whole Lotta Money’ Bodega Buys, Champions Fellow Female Rappers: ‘We’re At a Beautiful Time Right Now’May 6, 2022
Bia will take a bow tonight on one of the most fabled stages in the world: Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. Currently on the road with Russ’ Shake The Globe tour, she’s riding a wave of her own hit songs, including breakout record, “Whole Lotta Money,” and latest single and visual, “London,” produced by frequent collaborator AzizTheShake.
Of course, there’s no better cosign than J. Cole. As the story goes, J. Cole had Bia come through the studio, meeting each other for the first time in person. She played him several tracks, throwing in “London” last as she was on her way out. It took just one listen for Cole to decide to jump on the record.
As he wrote on Instagram: “I was excited but genuinely nervous cuz I didn’t even see how the song could be better after what she did to it. I didn’t want to fuck nothing up! I’m grateful I ended up catching the right wave.”
Nicki Minaj is another major artist who’s appeared with Bia; she was featured on the “Whole Lotta Money” remix and helped boost the track to new heights. Bia has also released songs with Lil Durk and G Herbo.
She spoke to Variety about her process, career, the music business and more.
Take us back to the moment when you played music for J. Cole for the first time.
He had another song in mind for me to get on, so he invited me to the studio. On my way out, I said “Do you mind if I play you something? I really want to play you a song.” Me and Aziz were really excited about it because we just did it.
To be honest, it didn’t cross my mind right away [that] he’d even want to be on it. I was playing it as a fan just for his genuine opinion. I didn’t even know it would sound like this! It’s so so crazy, because he threw on the London accent too.
How is it being in a studio session with Cole?
It was one of my favorite artist interactions I’ve ever had. J Cole is so down-to-earth. He’s a real person, a family person. He’s super grounded. It was refreshing to meet someone like that in the music business still, that’s successful at it.
What did you take away from working with him?
I learned I have to push my pen to maximum every single time because you never know when J. Cole’s going to get on your record. [Laughs] Now, I’m pushing it 10 times harder. Every bar, ugh! Let me see how I can take that up a notch. Outside of that, too, I learned a lot about balance. Because the way he’s super punctual — he’s on time for everything. I’m never on time, but I’ll stay late. I need to get better at punctuality.
A post shared by Cole (@realcoleworld)
When J. Cole posted about the song on Instagram, what was your reaction?
I was super honored and happy about it. It made me feel so appreciated as an artist. Something that really stuck out to me: if more men championed women artists like that, it would be a way better place. Because not too many men back up their homegirls. You see guys backing other guys, but you don’t see them back up other women like that. It was super amazing to me, it meant a lot. … I might have shed a little tear.
How was it shooting the video in London?
We wanted to capture the amazing culture, while paying homage to the city, and there’s no better way to do that than to link with the incredible Daps. He’s from London. … It was the perfect chemistry. We shot the video for two days and captured so many amazing scenes and cameos. The rooftop scene was my favorite because I love the camera work.
How did Nicki Minaj end up on the “Whole Lotta Money” remix?
I’d been DM-ing Nicki for a long time. When “Whole Lotta Money” started picking it up, we connected. She invited me to her house. It was amazing. It was a blessing. She’s one of my favorite rappers in general. Not even just female rappers, but my favorite rapper. So to be at her house working on my remix, rapping with her, it was an iconic moment for me. I’ll never forget it. … I remember I was listening to her in the booth live while she was rapping the verse and I literally lost my shit. I started dancing and yelling. If I had my wig on at the time, I would’ve thrown it!
Rhyming Bottega with bodega is such a great hook. What’s your go-to bodega like? What do they sell and what are you buying?
Okay, so it depends on where I’m at. If I’m going to a bodega in New York, then I might get a sandwich, some chips, juice or some water. If I’m in a bodega in London, like the Hollywood bodega, they got exotic snacks.
The mental image of wearing high-end fashion at a corner store, what does that say about where we’re at in the culture?
That is the culture. That’s always been where we’re at with the culture. I chose to shed light on that, because that’s where the culture comes from — it comes from the hood at all times; it’s always coming from the streets. So the culture’s always in the bodega, on the corners, in the hoop earrings, in the baby hairs. Black and brown women are always going to be the culture.
You’ve been grinding for a while. Was there ever a moment when you thought success might not happen?
No. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I always felt it’s going to happen.
How has your experience been with Epic Records?
I love Epic Records. It’s the best energy, they are super supportive. Every artist dreams to have the relationship that I have with my label, and I’m so thankful for that. They’re super hands-on with me, even down to my product managers and digital team. You gotta really know an artist if you’re trying to market them. They know me and really allow me to be my best, most authentic self.
What does Epic CEO Sylvia Rhone bring to the table?
Sylvia Rhone is a boss, and she knows the culture. She knows everything. Even where I’m, like, “Sylvia, I think I want to do this.” She’ll tell me something a little bit different than what I want to do, and it’ll be right. Maybe 10 times out of 10, she’s been right every time.
A post shared by BIA ✍🏽 (@bia)
You recently launched your own cosmetics line, beautyforcertain.com. How was it launching your own company? What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
It feels exciting. It feels like I have a baby and I have to raise it. [laughs] It does, it feels super personal and super exciting for me because I love makeup. I love having my own brand and being able to show people the things that are my go-to’s. It’s definitely a passion for me.
What’s your view of how your tour-mate Russ handles his business?
I’ve learned so much from Russ. He’s a true businessman, true entrepreneur. Every artist can learn a lot from Russ, to be honest. Most of all, he’s consistent. That’s why he’s incredible because his consistency is like no other.
I remember seeing you perform at The Echo in Los Angeles years ago. It was a small intimate show but you killed it. Do you remember what Bia was like then? What have you learned about yourself since?
That’s such a good question. I was a lot more eager to get noticed then. Now I’m more experienced, powerful and sure of myself. I know exactly what I’m doing. “For certain” is exactly how I am right now on everything. I don’t think I was that certain at the time, but I was on my way to becoming who I am right now.
It’s refreshing to see you and Coi Leray support each other online. What does that say about for the state of female rap in 2022?
We’re at a beautiful time right now. Everybody’s bringing something different to the table. If you genuinely like it, you should genuinely support it, and that’s what I try to do.
Do you guys have music together?
We have a little something in the works. We’re very close. We’re definitely going to have a little bop.
What are your goals going forward?
Right now, I’d love to have my own No. 1 song and album I want to tour overseas, which is coming up this summer. I’m just excited to do everything that I’m doing now. It’s all the things I’ve always wanted to do. I always have goals. I never stop making goals.
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