EXCLUSIVE: BIA is the Latina MC We Deserve Right Now

BIA

We’re calling it: the Latin song of the summer is J Balvin’s “Safari” — it’s sexy, it’s now, it’s a certified banger. But the Colombian gato didn’t do it alone. He got served a huge assist by mega-producer Pharrell and a certain scene-stealer named BIA AKA the Perico Princess.

In less than 16 bars, the Puerto Rican and Italian reps for the ladies in a way only the best female MCs have done in the past (think Lil Kim, M.I.A.). Take a listen to her debut mixtape, #CHOLASEASON, her latest single “Gucci Coming Home” and you’ll further realize her depth as an artist and as a Latina.

The future is now and her name is BIA.

MORE: J Balvin Heads to the 'Safari' with Pharrell Williams

Congrats all the good buzz you’re getting off the “Safari” guest spot and, of course, your “Gucci Coming Home” joint. I’m not big on Gucci but you had me singing the chorus like crazy. Why compose a song inspired by Gucci Mane?

That’s crazy [laughs]. I’m just a big Gucci fan. When I first started rapping Gucci was a super big influence in my music and some of the beats are playing homage and bigging up a rapper I was a fan of.

Now, we know you’re down with Pharrell’s i am OTHER imprint but how exactly did the guest spot on J Balvin’s “Safari” happen?

Pharrell called me for this video like millions of times. This particular time I was in L.A. and my manager was like, “Yo, we have to stop by the studio. J Balvin’s over there with Pharrell and we really want you to meet him.” So I went over and they played me some of it; like they were right in the middle of doing the record “Safari” and I was like, wow, this is so good. Pharrell suggested I throw a verse on it to see if he likes it. If he likes it, he likes it if he don’t, he don’t. J is really humble and very sweet and he was like go ahead shoot the shit. So I went in and I just sat under a tree and I wrote. It was so hard because I usually dabble in Spanglish mainly but never a full Spanish like that. So, it was definitely a challenge for me and I went back in and I just went in the booth and sang it right there and they were like, “Whoa, he loves it!” and I was so happy.

I first became aware of you from watching you on Oxygen’s Sisterhood of Hip Hop. And the one that stuck with me was how close you are with your little sister. You were always giving her the right advice. How is she now?

That’s so crazy that you ask because I’m with her right now. We’re going summer shopping, bathing suit shopping right now. No matter what I got going on I try to be as present in my sister’s life and her friends’ lives so they can see I try to lead by example. Not all the examples I set might be right but I got to show her with my presence the right things to do. I can do these things with her because I work hard, if I didn’t work hard I wouldn’t be able to.

With all the positive buzz you’re getting now, is it a little surreal for her?

I think she’s more proud of me than anyone. You know she just looks up to me and sees everything I’m doing and she’s like, “Wow, this is possible for me too.” I think, of course, it’s cool for her but she still looks to me like her sister. Nothing’s changed; I’m still her regular sister.

Has being signed to Pharrell sort of shielded you from a lot of the stereotypical BS Latino artists go through in the music scene?

No, no I don’t think he really shielded me. [Laughs] Believe it or not, Pharrell’s been trying to get me to do Latin music since forever. He was the first one that was like, “You got to do Latin music, and you got to do stuff in Spanish.” One of my first songs I was like rapping in Spanish came from a Pharrell feature. He was like you should rap this in Spanish. He was always putting the bug in my ear. I have my own style not knowing that so many people wanted me to tap into this side too. I tried to touch it at the beginning, if you listen to my first mixtape #CHOLASEASON I had a lot of Latin in there—La Lupa sample, etc.

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About this author

Jesus Trivino,

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Jesús Triviño Alarcón began his professional journalism career at Vibe. At 25, he became editor-in-chief of Fuego, the first national English language Latino men’s magazine, and served as senior editor for Scratch, a magazine dedicated to hip-hop producers and DJs. Since then he has guided the editorial direction for MyNuvoTV.com, the online component of the Latino lifestyle cable network, and BET.com's music shows and specials including 106 & Park. Additionally, he has written and reported for the NY Daily News, SLAM, The Source, XXL, Inked, SOHH.com, People.com, Essence.com, and many more. In his 16-year career he’s interviewed countless celebrities including Bruno Mars, Carmelo Anthony, Demi Lovato, Marc Anthony, Rosario Dawson, Willie Colón, Jay-Z, Nas, Jessica Alba, John Leguizamo, 50 Cent, Kanye West, among others. Today, as Latina’s Entertainment Director he’s constantly thinking WWJD—What Would Juanes Do? Follow him on Instagram @JesusTalks and Twitter @JesusTalkz.

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