Illustration for article titled With a New EP and Rihannas Stamp of Approval, Bia Is Aiming to Become the Best on Earth
Photo: Bonnie Nichoalds (Epic Records)

Musician Bia has been waiting in the wings for her moment to arrive, and it appears it’s finally here. The bubbly 28-year-old initially got her start as a cast member on the first two seasons of Oxygen’s T.I.-produced show, Sisterhood of Hip-Hop, alongside artists like Crime Mob’s Diamond and Missy Elliott protégé Brianna Perry. She left the series before Season Three aired in 2015, but judging by her career’s growth, the show was merely a springboard that she ultimately used to jump over expectations of what might become of her, because she stays winning.

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Since her days on the small screen came to an end, Bia has performed alongside Usher and Jennifer Hudson, and was signed to Pharrell’s i am OTHER label before signing to her current home, Epic. She’s hit the stage at festivals such as SXSW and A3C and has performed alongside acts like collaborator J Balvin and pop phenom Ariana Grande. Last year alone, she garnered an impressive 10.7 million Spotify streams.

While she is recognized as a subdued yet slick-talking emcee with clever and catchy bars for days, via a phone call with The Root, the Connecticut-bred artist (born Bianca Landrau) says she’s most interested in being billed as a well-rounded musician.

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“I have always looked at music like a big playground,” the multifaceted artist muses. “I’ve never really said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this,’ [and] stick to one thing…Even to this day, I don’t know really what’s in my cards. I just know that I’m meant to be here and I’m meant to carry a message along with it.” Bia notes that in addition to rapping, she also writes and sings, utilizing production from various genres. Even her influences spread across the board; she says she has always been enamored by Jay-Z’s conversational flow, and adores the musical catalogues and respective personal style choices of late icons Aaliyah and Selena. Like all three artists, she’s hoping to be “timeless.”

Bia
Bia
Photo: Alex Harper (Epic Records)

Despite the effects of COVID-19 being felt throughout the music industry, Bia is forthright in releasing her forthcoming EP Rich Tiers sometime this month, a follow-up to her 2019 mixtape Nice Girls Finish Last: Cuidado. While it seems as though artists are either rushing to drop new music for our quarantine TikTok sessions or putting their plans on the backburner in order to see the in-person effects of their material manifest, Bia says she has been preparing for an April release—and she’ll be damned if she loses it.

In anticipation of the release, she dropped two songs—the braggadocious “Free Bia (1st Day Out)” and the bad bitch anthem “COVERGIRL,” which she touts as her “baby” and one of her favorite songs on the project.

“I just really wanted to make sure that I gave people a second to come out for me,” she explains. “I haven’t put out music like this, so I really just want to make sure that everybody’s tapped in and we’re all on the same page.” She also details that the material found on Rich Tiers is some of the most personal in her catalogue, and longtime fans of her work should be able to notice her growth on wax.

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“As of right now, [the music] feels super authentic to me,” she says with a smile. “It’s not for the numbers, it’s really just for me, and for the fans, and the people that have been waiting for this for so long…They should definitely be able to be like, ‘Oh, this is Bia.’”

She released a “quarantine music video” for “COVERGIRL” which not only served as an EP promo but a way to have fun during these crazy times. (“[I said] ‘let me just put on the looks that I would put on if I could go outside right now, and just give people some life,’” she laughs.) She says she hopes to release a proper video when lockdown restrictions are lifted, but for the time being, she’s hoping that the precautions stemming from the worldwide pandemic will make people “more grateful [for] our freedoms.”

“I’m just kinda like, ‘Wow, who would’ve thought that in 2020 this could even happen?’” she says of the COVID-19 hysteria, which has postponed her set at Rolling Loud Miami and her “brilliant” collaborator Russ’ forthcoming Shake The Globe tour, on which she was billed to accompany him. “I’m hoping that [the restriction] makes us appreciate the arts, being able to go to concerts, [seeing] our favorite artists, and being able to just be that close to people again,” she continues.

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While she’s been grinding and working hard for years, many people were introduced to Bia in October 2019, when undisputed bad gal Rihanna used Bia’s collab with Russ, “Best On Earth,” as background music for an Instagram flick of her struttin’ in slow-mo while on vacation. At the time of posting, she wrote that the bouncy, Boi-1da and Jahaan Sweet-produced track (which references her in the first verse) was her “new fav song.” The duet peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the RIAA.

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Bia says that she was informed of the epic shout-out while at her best friend’s house (“My boy called me and was like, ‘Rihanna nigga?! Rihanna?!’” she laughs). She’s grateful that she was able to gain new fans and “connect to the culture” thanks to the multihyphenate’s sweet gesture, which “speaks volumes” of her character.

“When she [used our song in her post], it made me love her so much more, because it was really on some homegirl shit,” Bia gushes. “[Rihanna] knew what that would do for me at that moment. She didn’t have to do that, you know? It was the most genuine thing I’ve ever seen come from somebody of her caliber–let alone to me.”

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As Rihanna encourages her fans to be their own bosses, Bia is aiming to send a similarly relatable message amongst her listeners. She believes her “humble beginnings” and endless ability to hustle by any means necessary are inspiring, and if she can do it, they can, too. She’s hoping to instill a sense of pride and to act as a beacon for women like her. As someone who has all the makings of a boss and a star, that shouldn’t bia problem for her at all.

“I just always felt like there was nobody that really spoke for me,” she says of pushing the theme of empowerment in her work. “I just wanted to give people something that they could relate to and count on so they can be like, ‘Okay, this is a real person too…’ It means so much to just set the tone, and do it for girls who don’t have nobody doing it for them…It has to feel like there’s a greater purpose for everything that I do. Whether that’s through the music, the fashion, this interview, it has to carry a higher purpose.”

Music and culture journalist. Pronounced "Jay-nuh."

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