As the number of females in the Hip-Hop industry continues to dwindle, a Georgia MC by the name of Bola is pledging to leave her mark and break through the barriers. With the blessing and the backing of one of the most well known rap labels in the country, Bola has become Grand Hu$tle’s First Lady and found guidance and friendship in T.I. While her friend and mentor continues to serve his time, ‘The Black Betty Boop’ told HipHopWired how she got in touch with her Nigerian roots, what famous rapper is her best friend and why being signed to Tip’s label has been pure ‘Xstaci.’
HipHopWired: Tell me a little about how you got started rapping.
Bola: Actually I came from a group actually, the group is called Xtaci, we’ve been with Grand Hustle really before it was even called Grand Hustle, we were just all together grinding, and working mix tapes in the street. The other member is taking time off, she just had twin girls. I just had to make that decision to keep our legacy going so we won’t be forgotten about and make that situation better. So I’ve just been doing my thing.
HipHopWired: Are you guys ever going to get back together?
Bola: We’re best friends, it was just weird for people to see us too because although we were group members we were best friends first so we came in together and we’re gonna get back and do that Xstaci album.
HipHopWired: How did you initially meet T.I.?
Bola: It was before it was even a Grand Hustle it was really more of like a family thing, we were all together doing music, literally all in the same house, recording around each other. It was just us; Big Kuntry, to all the underground people, all of us was just together. That’s really how it came along, we just really met Tip while he was opening for somebody like a while ago I think it was Jadakiss and he was opening up and we was like, he hot, so we approached him and everything just really clicked.
HipHopWired: What did he think about you when he first met you and first heard you spit? What did he think?
Bola: I mean we was so young then, we was like 15, 16, back in 2000, so it was probably not as much as females out here doing it like it was then. I guess he saw the hunger and potential at first and of course he’s looking at beautiful faces at the same time I guess he was kind of like intrigued by it. And to be so young, we was willing to risk everything, our parents were like come home, we like no, we literally was not leaving those guys. From that point we were like this was our calling, we didn’t know else it would be if it wasn’t that.
HipHopWired: So what was it like, did you work with him up until he went to jail?
Bola: I just don’t look at it like a lot of people would think. I’ve just been around him for so long, he’s like a brother. I’m very used to it.
HipHopWired: You call yourself the Black Betty Boop, tell me about how you came up with that concept.
Bola: Coming from a group I feel like it takes two definite personalities to make one, like Outkast or 8 Ball and MJG I kind of felt like I needed to introduce the world to me, so I was like what’s the best way for them to see me to really explain myself in the best way. It actually came from somebody who saw the way I acted around people he was like, there go the Betty Boop right there! With my audience, it’s a flirty thing too. I work with guys and I just leave them like that. A lot of people tell me I look like her, so I really embraced the character because it kind of brought me out of my shell. We was tom boys for so long from being around guys for so long, I got to come into my whole, I went hard with her.
HipHopWired: I know in the industry a lot of female rappers have a side persona; did you feel pressure from the label to do that to make yourself distinct?
Bola: It’s pressure sometimes, because that was Xstaci’s problem, it had to be like something extreme, so it was pressure from the label, you got to go to the extreme, it isn’t pressure with me coming up with Betty Boop I knew me as a an artist, I’ve very interesting alone, being that I’m Nigerian, and I come from just a very musical background so I feel like with my music, that’s the best of all worlds. I played the tomboy role, my music is from here to there, I talk about everything in my music.
Bola ft. Lil Scrappy- “CominOva”
HipHopWired: Well then as a Nigerian rapper do you feel pressure to really represent them?
Bola: No I don’t because I Haven’t even been, I embrace where I’m from, but I haven’t really gotten into it. I took a trip there to meet different producers, because I want to get into really trying to go back and incorporate it. When I saw the music that they do, they imitate us so bad. They still really support their music where you can tell this is where it started. They can imitate our music so easily, it’s so simple to them. I know that’s where it came from so I’m definitely looking into going back and incorporating the Nigerian feel because I’ve never done it.
HipHopWired: Besides your ancestry, how else do plan to distinguish yourself from these other female rappers?
Bola: I plan on doing that by staying true to myself. A lot of people are already intrigued and looking for what I’ve got to offer just because it’s Grand Hustle, so that a lot of pressure. I’m just gonna stay true to what I do. I’m going to keep my music real and not try to have no airy music, no so far into a character and it’s like fake. I just want to keep it as real as possible, that’s it. I’m gonna keep it real all the way, so that women can really relate and people can feel and I can have longevity.
HipHopWired: So what do you say to young girls that really follow you, is there a certain image you want to portray for them?
Bola: I just think they should see it as, be happy with yourself and really love yourself first of all and not really fall victim to whatever’s going on. Especially for a young female artist that wants to make it in the game. What we’re seeing a lot today is women going so far just to get their foot in the door. They’re willing to go that far and then they try and switch it up, then they’re like I just did that to get my foot in the door, but it’s too late. Just stay true to yourself for all those female artists that want to do something. That’s the most important thing.
HipHopWired: Well what do you think about girls that actually go up there and do that, do you judge them?
Bola: I definitely don’t judge, because of what I’ve seen, I definitely don’t judge. I’ve got stripper friends, I never judge women. I’m always going to tell them how I feel. I don’t feel like I’m hating on anybody, saying that they shouldn’t be in this game. Sometimes I get a little frustrated because I think to myself well this is not most of us, what they see in these type of females, this is not most of us. I heard Trina make a comment saying, well it’s all needed because you got a lot of different type of male artists in the game why shouldn’t there be a bunch of different types of us. So I don’t really mind them doing what they doing, do what you do and I’m gonna do what I do.
HipHopWired: Let’s talk about your song “Every Day” with Yung L.A. how did you guys come up with that concept?
Bola Ft. Yung L.A.-“Everyday”
Bola: It was actually his song first. L.A. was in the studio, and at Grand Hustle we do these lock-ins every once in a while where we stay in the studio all day and all week. He was doing something then and it just gives us a chance to all do music with each other, to to Killer Mike to L.A. to Dro and I have a lot of record swith Dro too on my new mix tape, he’s like my best friend. We got a lot of records together. The record with LA, he was just doing the record and I happened to be in the studio and I was like oh that’s perfect, I’m gonna get in and do a verse. He was like cool and then we ended up talking about it and he was like you can go ahead and take the song because “Aint I” was out really heavy. So he said go ahead and take the song, then the video came along and everything just came into place.
HipHopWired: Let’s talk about the mixtape, you got your best friend Dro on there. Who else?
Bola: Scrappy’s on the record, Jock is on there, BG is on there, we did a record with BG, really just people, I like to work with. People that I really have chemistry and relationships with, not just doing records just cause, I really feel like I take music very seriously.
HipHopWired: I heard you hooked up with Coney Girl too, how did you guys link up for that?
Bola: That’s my home girl, the first record we did together was an Xstaci record, and we did it with Keisha Baby, Tiny’s friend from Tiny and Toya. The chemistry for that record was so crazy, we had never worked with a female producer so I was like this is crazy. I just did a record last week with her and it was really hot, I like her interpretation, she comes in with an idea more than most producers would so look for more hits from us definitely.
HipHopWired: Grand Hustle has a lot of artists on the roster, when do you think you’re going to get your debut album out?
Bola: I’m not sure, I’ve heard a lot of major labels is looking and observing what I’m doing, so I’m really just trying to stay focused. I’m working on another mixtape, I’m sure it’s going to be soon after that next mixtape because I’m ready.
HipHopWired: Anything else you want to say to your fans?
Bola: Black Betty Boop coming soon, stay supportive of this whole movement, Xstaci coming soon, I joined forces with Sunshine to really make some stuff happen! Just because Tip is on lock down don’t mean we ain’t doing nothing!