Africans do it best. We told you about the Somalian poet behind Beyoncé’s Lemonade and now we are introducing you to the Moroccan-Haiti descendant who is the voice of bad girl RiRi (and she is a badass too – turning words of profanity into prose)
“I grew up with bass players from Senegal and Ghana in my kitchen talking about conspiracy theories”
The 22-year-old Bibi Bourelly’s story starts out much the same as other rebellious teenagers more interested in smoking blunts, run-ins with the police and swearing at life then school attendance, as she said herself “I grew up running around the subways and streets of Berlin, tagging, listening to cool music, sitting on the rooftops of abandoned buildings and not going home enough.” But it didn’t stop there for Bibi, not even close….
It was between a stint of rebellion and bad grades, that she decided to pursue a career in music and so her unruly youth became the milieu for creative evolution.
19, unafraid and anxious to be the best, she moved to L.A. to meet up with a manager who discovered her on Instagram and arranged for her to have a session with Kanye West. She played her music and Kanye listened – and loved. He introduced her music to Rihanna who decided to make Bibi’s track “Bitch Better Have My Money” the lead single on her 2016 double platinum album, Anti. Besides writing “BBHMM,” Bibi also penned down Rihanna’s “Yeah I Said It,” “Pose,” and “Higher” (which she wrote in about 30 minutes!).
Working with Rihanna propelled Bibi right to the top, with producers lining up to get in on her raw, undeniable charm, which saw her collaborating with the likes of Lil Wayne, Usher, Nas, Nick Brewer and Selena Gomez – all before reaching the legal drinking age!
Although still a prolific writer for chart-topping artists, Bourelly was now set on having her voice heard (literally). Signed to Def Jam, she released her first single “Riot” which demanded listeners to recognize her as an authentic and legitimate musician. “If I go, I’m gon’ start a riot, I’m fighting for my life here, I’m gonna give y’all everything tonight”. Her next single “Ego” topped the Spotify charts and from there, things only escalated.
It might seem like she had it easy but Bourelly is a hustler and it is her rooted sense of individualism that carried her through hard times as she fought for acceptance against the odds of expectation. It wasn’t until l was successful that people went from calling me crazy to calling me great.
In a voice that is soulful yet rough around the edges, she sings of lust, determination, empowerment, and equality with a wisdom that is far beyond her years. And it is her expression of freedom juxtapositioned against sadness and self-possession with heartbreak, which truly makes Bourelly’s a voice worth hearing! “I curse when I talk and I learn when I walk and I been through some shit and I’ve gained and I’ve lost.”
Even though it may seem that Bourelly has reached the top, she is only just beginning! – “Unafraid to move a nation, I believe the height of my career is going to be during the start of a revolution”