BIA’s bars are powered by her hard-won self-assurance. The Boston-bred multiplatinum artist has hustled for years to create her own brand of narratively rich and emotionally emphatic rap music, and though she has all eyes on her now, she possessed the same bulletproof confidence even when nobody was watching. “I am all about manifesting the life you want to create for yourself,” she says. “I speak to the things I want.” That conviction informs every line of her latest single, “London,” featuring J. Cole. “Wearing designer, I’m in the future,” she spits over an infectious drill beat. “I got a future.”
Cole’s placement on “London” came about “organically,” as do all of BIA’s features.The final product is an immersive master class in clever wordplay and agile delivery. BIA is “out in Shoreditch” calling out others’ “shortages” and effortlessly incorporating local slang: “It’s pretty funny how now they all like me, innit?” In the Daps-directed video, she strolls down the street flanked by Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil-style, and cruises the River Thames. Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Crocs are all name-checked, but nobody — not even Cole — outshines BIA.
“London” marks BIA’s first time rapping on a drill beat, but it’s far from the first time she has authentically embraced her surroundings. BIA came up in Boston, and at 14, she was hanging around battle rappers in the studio. She set her sights on writing her own rhymes. “I never felt underestimated because I know who I am,” she says. “I think it just takes time to make people believers.” A life-threatening motorcycle accident in 2013 accelerated BIA’s determination to go after what she wanted. Before long, her manager, Fam, introduced her to Pharrell, who signed her to his I Am Other imprint in 2014 — the same year she dropped her breakout #CholaSeason mixtape and starred in Oxygen’s reality series Sisterhood of Hip-Hop.
BIA leaned into her Puerto Rican roots on J Balvin’s reggaetón tune “Safari,” also featuring Pharrell and Sky, in 2016, and again in 2021 with the Spanglish hip-hop bop “Besito” featuring G Herbo on her For Certain (Deluxe) EP. Five years apart, those hits illustrate the seamless way in which BIA has aligned with music royalty, and her truth, en route to becoming a solo star.
BIA opened on tours for Ariana Grande and Pusha T before dropping 2018’s six-track EP Nice Girls Finish Last: Cuidado, housing standout tracks like “YAKWTFGO” featuring Kali Uchis and “Vibes on Me” featuring Kodak Black. Those were precursors for her placement on Russ’ 2019 smash “Best on Earth,” which Rihanna dubbed “her new fav song” and earned BIA her first Hot 100 entry (No. 46). A-list co-signs didn’t distract BIA, though. “It always comes back to the music,” she says. “So I never stop creating because that is the most important thing.”
She generated even more momentum with the EP For Certain, her Epic Records debut. That EP boasts “Whole Lotta Money,” “Cover Girl,” “BIA BIA” featuring Lil Jon, and “Same Hands” featuring Lil Durk. Come July 2021, she’d landed Nicki Minaj for a “Whole Lotta Money” remix. The record went Platinum and became BIA’s second Hot 100 hit, peaking at No. 16 and charting for 17 weeks overall.
Now, BIA is building an empire beyond music, too. In September 2020, she fronted the campaign for a clothing collaboration between Diddy’s Sean John and UK-based Missguided. The following September, Rihanna tapped her to perform at Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3. BIA even repurposed her For Certain track “Skate” for the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. This, all before launching her Beauty for Certain brand in partnership with Dolls Kill.
Bringing it all together, nothing makes BIA feel more alive than “being on stage in a fly-ass outfit,” relishing her dynamic discography and showing her ever-growing fan base what she’s about in person. She’s laying the foundation for a boundless future, with co-signs from every direction and a vision for singular greatness. “I feel the most empowered running my business and being independent, while really living what I rap about,” says the rising queen. “I feel most empowered when I empower other people, being a true example of reaping what you sow.”