BIA is our “cover girl for certain”—and For Certain also happens to be the title of her latest EP. The vibrant, American rapper first rose to fame in 2014, on Oxygen’s reality show, Sisterhood of Hip Hop and was later signed to Pharrell’s record label. Since then, BIA’s music mantra has been to create empowering music to “encourage people to push through.” Cover girl BIA gives MOD the exclusive about her past, the present, and her future.
Sandy: First of all, how are you feeling lately? How has 2020 been for you and do you have any top takeaways from the year?
BIA: Surprisingly, I feel rejuvenated, inspired, and optimistic. I have days where the quarantine hit harder than others, but overall, I’ve noticed the more I stay in a positive space, the more positive my outcome will be. My mantra is to stay thankful; things can change so fast.
Sandy: And because it has been a challenging year, has there been anything that has particularly inspired you this year that you want to share?
BIA: At first, it was really hard for me to stay focused in the house. I’m one of those people that has to be active or I’ll disengage. I found myself using white boards a lot. Finding a new hobby was something therapeutic to keep me inspired and focused.
Sandy: Tell us where you are from and where you consider to be home.
BIA: I’m from Massachusetts, [so] that will always be my heart, but I’ve found a lot of peace in Miami and Los Angeles. Not sure where I’ll end up for good just yet.
Sandy: What is your favorite place on Earth and why?
BIA: My favorite place on Earth right now is Puerto Rico, but I haven’t been to Jamaica yet and so many other places, so that might change.
Sandy: Describe your perfect day.
BIA: My perfect day would be flying all my close friends and family on a jet somewhere they’ve never been for a vacation, and then making them come to the studio with me.
Sandy: What is the most bizarre thing you have seen/heard lately?
BIA: The most bizarre thing I’ve seen/heard is everything about this latest presidential election.
Sandy: How would you describe yourself in three words?
BIA: I would describe myself as powerful, authentic, and vibrant.
Sandy: If you weren’t a singer, songwriter, rapper, and model right now, what do you think you would be doing instead?
BIA: That’s a tough one. I assume I’d be doing something that has to do with beauty, [because] I love makeup and hair and serving looks. Either that or fashion.
Sandy: Looking back on it now, how does it feel to think about the year 2014 and all the good things that happened, including Pharrell signing you to his record label?
BIA: I feel so blessed to have had his support, especially so early on—it’s a big part of why I know so much of what I know.
Sandy: How do you think the music industry has changed from 2014 to now?
BIA: I think the music industry has become a lot more saturated. The good thing is that social media has helped change so many lives. In 2014, getting signed was the only way; in 2021 it’s a different world—you can sign yourself.
Sandy: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
BIA: Know the business and stay loyal to the pen.
Sandy: What piece of advice would you give to aspiring rappers (especially young, female rappers)?
BIA: I would tell them: learn the business and trust yourself—if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Sandy: Would you have done anything differently if you could go back?
BIA: If I could go back, I would have trusted myself earlier on and not been so afraid to make mistakes. I’m a Leo so I’m a perfectionist at heart. But you can’t be afraid to take risks because through risks come rewards.
Sandy: Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?
BIA: Absolutely, I’ve planned my life out over and over a million times, and each time God’s plan is always way better than mine.
Sandy: Tell us about the song “Best on Earth.” How did this come about?
BIA: My boy Russ was in LA, and he invited me to a session. We picked the “Best on Earth” beat and started cutting right away. It was so fast, and it came out so easily. That’s always how I know a song is a vibe, when it comes together naturally.
Sandy: What are your thoughts about “identity” and how do you think it changes with the fast-paced music industry?
BIA: I don’t think much of it to be honest. However, I do believe that change comes with growth, and this industry calls for reinventing yourself.
Sandy: How would you describe the music industry in just a few words?
BIA: Not for the weak.
Sandy: Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a go-to place when you feel like you need some inspiration?
BIA: My creative process is usually me and a small group—sometimes a few friends or usually just one or two producers. I have the same people record me all the time—it’s a comfort thing for me. When you record, you have to share your energy and be vulnerable, and I can’t do that with everyone.
Sandy: Are there any particular messages you hope people find and take from listening to the EP FOR CERTAIN?
BIA: I definitely want people who listen to me to feel motivated and empowered. I want my music to encourage people to push through.
Sandy: Tell us more about the song “Free BIA.”
BIA: This song was such an important part of my story. It’s something so many artists go through, and I felt it was necessary to tell that before moving onto the next phase in my career.
Sandy: In general, your songs drive powerful narratives. What is your favorite lyric and why?
BIA: I actually don’t have just one favorite lyric… it is more like a lyric for every mood!
Sandy: Are there any genres of music you hope to experiment with more?
BIA: Yes, I definitely want to experiment more with R&B, Reggae, and Latin music, maybe even some fusion & mixing genres.
Sandy: You have also been involved in some amazing fashion collaborations. How would you describe your style?
BIA: I would describe my style as fly, classic, clean, edgy, aesthetically pleasing, and original.
Sandy: What is your favorite brand/go-to brand?
BIA: I just love working with upcoming designers directly, and I love finding new brands and being the first to put people on. I also love classic high-fashion brands like Valentino, Bottega Veneta, and Prada.
Sandy: Where do you see yourself in a few years?
BIA: In a few years, I see myself still making music, hopefully back touring, definitely more in the entrepreneur space.
Sandy: Tell us about a goal you have.
BIA: A big goal of mine is to have a #1 song of my own and eventually a family one day.
Sandy: What is something your fans may not know about you?
BIA: My fans may not know that I know how to do nails—like really well! It’s a hobby I learned in the quarantine, but I love it so much! I’m so good at it and it’s so therapeutic. Sometimes I do my friends’ nails and it’s like our QT thing to do.
Sandy: Do you have any funny behind-the-scenes moments from your time on Sisterhood of Hip Hop?
BIA: I can’t remember something specific, but for the people that know me personally, they know I crack a lot of jokes all the time. You have to have tough skin and a lot of energy to hang with me.
Sandy: You have already worked with so many amazing people in the music industry. More generally, is there someone in the industry that you really want to work with? If so, who and why?
BIA: Definitely my girl Rihanna! She’s so iconic to me so she’s probably the person I hope to work with the most because she really set the bar.
Sandy: What are you working on next?
BIA: R&BIA is next for me! I think I’m just enjoying life, creating with my friends, and living in the moment. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment because before you know it, it’s gone.
Follow BIA on Instagram for updates: @BIA.
Photographer: Bonnie Nichoalds
Wardrobe Styling: Grace Butler
Makeup: Amber Perry
Hair: Kiki McBeth
Writer: Sandy Aziz
Find this interview in The 9th Anniversary Issue of MOD Magazine.