BIA-1-vibe-VIVA BIA-1-vibe-VIVA
George J

BIA On Her Multifaceted Lyrical Prowess And The Power Of A Rihanna Co-Sign

BIA's independent journey is a lesson in sticking to your guns.

In November, Rihanna went on Instagram and shared a slow-motion video that shows her sauntering around in a bathing suit to "Best On Earth," a track by Russ and BIA. that she declared her "fav new song." Rihanna had already direct-messaged the artist about how much she liked the collaboration, which includes a lyric that mentions the mega-star and beauty mogul by name, but the public co-sign galvanized her 77.5 million followers and helped "Best On Earth" shoot up the Apple, Genius, and Billboard Emerging Artists charts. It also landed on Jay-Z's Top 40 Singles of the Year list. The moment has been huge for BIA, and it’s given her a wave of momentum as she starts a brand new chapter in her career.

BIA has felt a steady presence in the music industry since she signed to RCA Records and Pharrell’s i Am Other record label in 2014. She’s made songs with J Balvin, Kali Uchis, and Vince Staples, and she opened during Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour back in 2017. But while she’s been working pretty much non-stop, she made a massive decision this year: She left her label and chose to go independent. BIA spoke to VIBE VIVA and shared why it was important for her to go her own way—and opened up about what’s next for her.

2019 has been the start of a lot of major things for you. Tell us about what you’ve been working on.

I was doing a lot of writing sessions at the beginning of the year. I feel like I was just sharpening my pen the whole time, creating a whole bunch of music, and working on projects that I thought were going to come out but didn't end up making deadlines. So I just found myself with a lot of music and I just had to figure out, 'Okay, what am I doing?' And being newly independent, I had to figure out a new strategy. The past year has really just been, “What do I want to sound like and what do I want to give to the world in a new way?’ It’s been a creative process for me and now it's all coming together.

Why was it important for you to go in your own direction?

I think every artist goes through phases in [his or her] career, like seasons. I'm super thankful for RCA and Pharrell's people giving me a chance way early on. Even when people didn't think I was that good or didn't believe in me, they always did. I feel like I knew it was my time a long time ago, but I just had to watch other people. I had to see other people's success to be okay with it and that made me, I feel like, a way better person, not just an artist.

I think with artists like me who come from no music background, no music knowledge whatsoever, everything is self-taught. You get into this business and you're teaching yourself as you go along. Some people learn quicker than others. For other people, it takes a little bit longer. A lot of new artists think when you sign, it’s like, 'Okay, I made it.' But that's really just the beginning. You really just have to show up every time, even times that you feel like, 'Damn, I just showed up 10 times in a row and still, it didn't do anything for me.' It's going to be like that. It might be that 11th time that you showed up that changes your life. So I've had to stick with that mantra and believe in it my whole career.

Now that you're independent, we're already seeing the creative side of you this year. You had this song that's now-massive and a co-sign from Rihanna. How did the song come together?

Russ invited me to the studio. I was always a fan of Russ and he always liked my work as well. He was like, 'I'm going to be in LA recording. Hope you can pull up.' He played a couple of beats and that wasn't the first beat that he played, but that was the one that I was like, 'Oh, can we do this one?' And he's like, 'Yeah, I like this beat too. Let's put it up.' We knew it was a fire song, but we didn't know it was going to be like what it was.

How did it feel once Rihanna is talking about it and you're seeing it have this huge effect on the Apple charts?


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thank you @bia and @russ for my new fav song #BestOnEarth

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

I was waiting for it because she DMed me when I put our snippets of the song, and she was like, 'Oh, b***h, send this. It's fire.' So I was like, 'Girl. Don't play, I'll send it early.' Like, I was about to send her the song early before it even came out. Luckily, Russ just ended up dropping the song like an hour later because he's really spontaneous. He just drops visuals and songs out of nowhere and he'll put it up in five minutes. Literally, the video put it up in five minutes. I didn't expect it to be up, and then as soon as it went up, I sent it to her and she was just like, 'Yes, I love it.' Then the next day, she posted it. I couldn't even believe it. Well, I could believe it because I just ... I love her and I f**k with her. She's so genuine. I’ve never met her, but we've had conversations in the DM. But I've been following her my whole life.

We’ve seen so many musical sides of you—hip hop, Latin. Sonically, do you think you’ll stay in this “Best On Earth” vibe or will you experiment with other things you’ve done before?


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“The crazy part, some people know your value... they just hoping you don’t 🤷🏾‍♀️”

A post shared by BIA ✍🏽 (@bia) on

I'm so glad you asked. I love questions like that because I feel like sonically, you're supposed to change. Nobody's supposed to sound the same forever. You're supposed to experiment and try new things. So I feel like I like to think of myself as multi-faceted. I like to go into so many different genres. But I love "Best on Earth" so much because it feels so authentic, it feels so me right now. As you said, I do the hip hop and I can go in different directions, but this just feels like it's just true to self. So definitely more music in the hip hop space, in the rap space and, yeah, just the way I want to do it. Not too rappy, not too like ... my style is all over the place so I change it quite often.

Now that you're in this space where you're independent and enjoying new success, what do you want your next chapter to look like?

There's a lot of things that I want to do that I'm not even close to doing yet. I'm not like in a race for time to leave a legacy on the earth because I know that that takes time, but I just want to have a higher purpose.

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Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio.
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College Football Officials Pondering Policy Changes After Incident With Odell Beckham Jr.

A domino effect might be on the horizon after Odell Beckham Jr.'s encounter with LSU players and a security officer that led to arrest warrants and debates about possible NCAA violations.

Speaking to USA Today Sports Thursday (Jan 16) executive director Bill Hancock said officials from the College Football Playoff will investigate practices that allow non-players to engage with players on the sidelines during events such as the national semifinals and championship games.

“Being on the sidelines is a privilege,” Hancock told the outlet. “Along with any privilege comes responsibility, because the focus should be on the people playing and coaching in the game, rather than on any visitors. The CFP will be reviewing its policy for allowing guests onto the sidelines and into locker rooms at future games.”

While the LSU Tigers beat Clemson Monday to secure a spot in the national championship, all eyes were on the Cleveland Browns wide receiver for handing out money to players and slapping the buttocks of a Superdome security guard. The incident took place in the LSU locker room. It was initially reported that the money was fake but it was confirmed that the money was actually real.

Video of the incident went viral and just a few days later, New Orleans Police Department public affairs officer Juan Barnes confirmed that the security guard filed the complaint. An arrest warrant for simple battery was issued against Beckham Jr. on Thursday.

The NFL star and former LSU player possibly committed an NCAA violation "if it’s determined athletes with eligibility remaining received cash," USA Today Sports mentions. OBJ and his representatives are cooperating with authorities, the Browns said in a statement.

Statement regarding Odell Beckham Jr. incident:

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 16, 2020

LSU will now investigate the incident to confirm if any NCAA violations were committed and if it will affect any of the players seen in the video.

Many have pointed exactly why the officer was in the locker room in the first place. As the players were celebrating their big win, the security guard allegedly threatened the players who were smoking cigars in the locker room. Stephen A. Smith reacted to the news and the NCAA possible violation as "bogus."

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Whitney Houston And Notorious B.I.G. Among 2020 Rock Hall of Fame Inductees

The 35th annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will welcome a mixed bag of legends that include the late Whitney Houston and Notorious B.I.G. as well as Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails and psychedelic folk band T.Rex.

According to Variety, the ceremony will air live for the first time ever on May 2 via HBO. Viewers can expect a long list of tribute performances given three of the inductees (Houston, B.I.G. and T. Rex) are no longer with us. Biggie, born Christopher Wallace, is the seventh rapper to given the honor. He joins Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., N.W.A., the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Tupac Shakur. The Brooklyn legend is also the first rapper to be inducted since Shakur in 2017.

Artists who were nominated but not inducted this year were Pat Benatar, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, Dave Matthews Band, MC5, Motorhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy. Khan has been nominated a total of six times–solo and with her group Rufus.

Last year’s inductees were Janet Jackson, the Cure, Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music and the Zombies. It's currently unknown who will induct Houston or Biggie. In the past, fellow music titans have inducted artists. In 2007, Jay Z inducted Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Janelle Monae inducted Jackson in 2019 and Mary J. Blige inducted Solomon Burke in 2001 and Nina Simone in 2018.

Enjoy some of their best moments in music below.

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Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Lopez And Six Other Major Oscar 2020 Snubs

If you listened closely to Monday morning's announcements of the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, there was a certain snark to Issa Rae's reaction to the Best Director nods. With no women or people of color listed, Rae joked, "Congratulations to those men," reminding us of a long list of snubs who are hard to ignore.

Out of the 24 categories presented, just a few people of color were honored. One being Cynthia Ervio for her performance in Harriet and the team behind the critically acclaimed horror-dramedy hybrid, Parasite. Matthew Cherry earned his first Oscar nomination for the touching animated short, Hair Love, which won over the hearts of many.

Meanwhile, notable performances from Lupita Nyong'o to Eddie Murphy seemed to be totally forgotten. Playing two characters worlds apart was a feat Nyong'o accomplished with ease in the Jordan Peele-directed thriller, Us. Still, it wasn't enough to secure a nomination. Murphy's hilarious comeback as comedy legend Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name was a hit with fans and critics alike but hasn't received as much love as it should in the award season. While Jennifer Lopez's role in Hustlers earned her a Golden Globe nomination, she too was shut out from the Oscar's race.

Other snubs are a blend of overlooked performances in general. Take Alfre Woodard and Jamie Foxx for their respected performances in Clemency and Just Mercy. Both actors stepped up to the plate in these crime dramas. We don't know if the rich tradition of slave-driven films have daunted the Academy's vision of seeing black actors play anything outside of it, but the actors showcased their best abilities on the big screen. We received some clarity on Foxx's absent nomination as Variety reports that Warner Bros. studio released the film nationwide until after ballots closed last weekend. Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas' Queen and Slim also took a lot of creative risks that didn't work out in their favor in the awards sector.

But the shut outs weren't limited to just black actors. Cho Yeo-jeong provided a stellar performance in Parasite that went unnoticed for a Best Actress nomination.

As far as music goes, it seemed like Beyoncè would be a shoo-in for "Sprit," her song from The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack which she executively produced. Her flavor of R&B mixed with Afrobeat was daring and met some controversy due to the lack of variety on the project, but "Spirit" was a grandiose yet gentle song that stood out on the project.

And lastly, for the second year in a row, there were no women nominated in the best director category. Nominees included Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes and Todd Phillips. Keeping all of this in mind makes Rae's subtle shade burn a bit more don't you think?

See reactions to the snubs below.

I’ve been thinking for an hour about how there are more Scarlett Johansson nominations than people of color nominations in the acting category this year. Please make it make sense.

— Andrea González-Ramírez (@andreagonram) January 13, 2020

Lupita Nyong’oAwkwafinaSterling K. BrownAlfre WoodardCho Yeo-jeongEddie MurphySong Kang-hoKelvin Harrison, Jr.Zhao Shuzhen

Just a few of the magnificent performances from last year that the Academy has failed to recognize. #Oscars2020

— ahmad (@ephwinslow) January 13, 2020

to think that Halle Berry is the only black actress to win an Oscar for best actress in a leading role. No Angela Bassett. No Viola Davis. No Lupita Nyong’o. No Octavia Spencer

— c (@chuuzus) January 13, 2020

So they have Scarlett Johansson nominated for both best actress & supporting actress? while Lupita Nyong’o played two masterful characters in the same movie and she she was completely snubbed #OscarNoms

— c (@chuuzus) January 13, 2020

Nominate Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy for anything challenge

— Nicole Gallucci (@nicolemichele5) January 13, 2020

No women directors. All white supporting actress! Where is Awkwafina, JLo, Shuzhen Zhao? Where is Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Lupita, Beyoncé? Queen and Slim, Farewell? So predictable choices very disappointed . #OscarNoms #OscarsSoWhite

— Constantinos Isaias (@Isaiasthoughts) January 13, 2020

Scarlett Johansson got nominated for that high school drama class acting and Lupita didn’t for playing two characters masterfully... #OscarNoms

— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) January 13, 2020

The Academy dead ass looked at Lupita Nyong'o and said, "We prefer you as a slave."

— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) January 13, 2020

The Oscars said f*** y’all social rants.

We are nominating every white we got. Spicy white, old white, off white, eggshell, man white, some white women, and a POC to keep up appearances

The Oscars will never reward Black art fairly #OscarNoms #OscarsSoWhite

— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) January 13, 2020

to quote rihanna: "who is in charge of this account"

— hunter harris (@hunteryharris) January 13, 2020

i genuinely think not nominating j lo is rooted in racism and sexism about the kinds of performances the oscars deem worthy of praise doNOT @ me

— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) January 13, 2020

No shade. Didn't hear any serious Oscar buzz for Ervio coming into the announcements. Fact that there are no other black nominations makes this one look side-eye worthy, as if they were trying to avoid another #OscarSoWhite moment. Lupita, JLo got robbed. Eddie got robbed. SMH.

— Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29) January 13, 2020

I don't even have the capacity to think deeply about the #OscarNoms, I think it'd just make me angry? And it's too early.

— "they're very local" (@dariansymone) January 13, 2020

They really screwed up if I see people mad at the nominations for half a dozen totally different reasons.

— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) January 13, 2020

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