On ‘FOR CERTAIN (DELUXE),’ BIA Shows She’s a Young Veteran

Photo by Gabe Garza.

Following a two-year hiatus, BIA resurfaced in 2020 swinging hands at her former label and lyrically discharging a hefty list of discrepancies on her “FREE BIA (1ST DAY OUT)” visual. “A silenced mind is as dangerous as a loaded gun,” the rapper noted in the opening verse. From the looks of things, she had enough of being shelved. Equipped with assault rifle add-ons, a new Epic Records contract, and visible capital, the orange-haired wordsmith bestowed her refreshed agenda.

Today’s animated release, “CAN’T TOUCH THIS,” sampled another Black Boricua diva, Kelis’ classic tune, “Milkshake.” Each subtle poem removes the popular viewpoint that proximity to whiteness is the best way to symbolize Latinidad musically. The video is another gift as BIA’s loyalists have been waiting for her return since the six-track project NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST: CUIDADO. This year’s project FOR CERTAIN (Deluxe) only strengthened her Spanglish transnational catalog. The Puerto Rican-Italian star updated her garments, pro-sex testimonies, and cash-demanding composition with the revived EP through a vibrant slew of music videos. Each bass-heavy poetic, including “SAME HANDS” with Lil Durk and “SKATE,” introduced the MC’s latest tangerine dream. Even so, the Afro-Latina’s most thorough breakthrough appeared months later in the “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY,” Justin Combs-assisted visual. 

The smash streamed an upward of 58 million on Spotify before BIA’s idol, Nicki Minaj, hopped on the “BarBIA”-chanting “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY [Remix]” collaboration. “It was a huge career mark because to me—with everything she has accomplished—she is the GOAT,” BIA tells REMEZCLA on a Zoom call. Nine years following her musical debut, the rare rap co-sign kicked off other exciting joint efforts for the ascending hitmaker. BIA’s natural beauty finessed a Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 performance and the Borikén-based bop “BESITO,” featuring G Herbo. Between bilingual punchlines, the latter’s video reflects upon the stunning Blackness of la Isla del Encanto.

Step-by-step, these revived manifestations prepared BIA for her updated FOR CERTAIN (Deluxe) 14-track play-through, released last Friday. “They are my most authentic at this current moment,” she confirmed of the tracklist additions. These new vulnerable numbers may also be outfitting the stage for another surprise—a duet with a Brazilian superstar. “Well, that is my girl,” BIA hinted coyly. The rhymer’s publicity team has not confirmed the pairing musician’s name. However, contrasting social media activity, we are banking on Anitta. 

REMEZCLA connected with the rapper between tour stops to discuss FOR CERTAIN (Deluxe), why Ivy Queen is at a “GOAT-level,” her experiences as a mainland baby, and much, much more. 

The last time you connected with REMEZCLA, you said the platform was “… joining cultures… giving people an understanding of what it [means] to be Latino.” You are a Boricua-Italian woman, and you survive in the world as an Afro-Latina. Why is it vital to emphasize this intersection represents one identity?

Where I am from, I feel like the African Americans and Latinos [coexisted]. I spent most of my time in Boston and New York. All the minorities that I grew up with were all one. We all supported each other when things were going on in the community. So I feel it is just important for me to create more unity amongst people—in general—from different cultures. I feel like that is what’s needed right now.

I am considered a “mainland baby,” but whenever I am in Puerto Rico, I feel like I belong there. How at home do you feel on the island? 

It is crazy you said that because that is exactly how I felt! Especially for me, [I used to] struggle with Spanish. I know there is variance. Sometimes I question, “Am I doing my people justice? Am I representing us the best way that I can?” Going back, for me, [Puerto Rico] is the homeland. I am embracing all the love. They were like, “It doesn’t matter. We love you. You are Puerto Rican. This is in your blood. Boricua is in your blood.” It just felt relaxing. I was so at home. That is exactly how it felt—accepting, no matter what.

Previously, you have achieved success in Spanish-speaking markets on collabs like “Safari.” You have since released new bilingual singles like “BESITO.” What level of power do you feel knowing your pen can place you anywhere on the map musically? 

I feel like it is my responsibility to shine a light on my culture. I feel like in my music, when I have an opportunity to [do so], that is just a beautiful thing for me. 

The single is everywhere. I was in the car with my mami and “BESITO” came on the radio. She heard that bicho bar and died. Since that dropped, I have seen the reference all over social media. What was the studio reaction when you recorded? 

It was just like that [laughs]. One of my best friends was in the studio, and she was like, “What?!” She just started screaming! It became a thing. I hear so many girls from different cultures say this. It made me feel like I was bringing people together [laughs]. All the girls are coming together like, “Yo! We are not doing this shit with you” [laughs]. It felt like a beautiful moment for women. 

Your fanbase went crazy for your Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz’s “Bia’ Bia’” sample from 2000’s We Still Crunk! What is it like running out on stage to “BIA BIA” as your “Life Of A Don Tour” opener?

It’s crazy! That record for me is [sentimental]. I remember growing up, and I used to hear “Bia’ Bia’” at little parties. I was not old enough to go to the club at that time. And that track was like my theme song! Every time it would come on, people would look at me and point. They would be like, “Yeah, Bia’ Bia’!” [laughs]. When we redid it, it was nostalgic to have Lil Jon be a part of the song. It was everything. Now it’s really my theme song. 

What was the energy of your rehearsals for the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards like together?

He is always bringing good energy. Jon was like, “Yo! Bia, just get out there and have fun. Do your thing.” He always lifted me. Jon is such a positive legend. 

How has this tour experience alongside Don Toliver differentiated from those of yours in the past?

I was really a fan of Don’s music before I found out I was going on tour with him. So, it was like, “Woah! I am going on tour with one of my favorite artists, and I get to watch him play all the time?” He is such a humble soul. It speaks differently to be on [the road] with somebody who is always positive and God-fearing. We have great shows.

“WHOLE LOTTA MONEY” was a bop on its own. Then you recruited Nicki Minaj for the remix. How long did it take her to flip her verses? 

She flipped her verse fast! Nicki is really busy. So at first, we were just trying to find the right day to get in the studio. She invited me, and the next time we got together, it was done.

You’ve mentioned that she is someone that you have looked up to. How was that experience for you as far as career marks? 

It was a huge career mark because to me—with everything she has accomplished—she is the GOAT. She is the greatest at female rap to me. It was a dream come true. 

Over the years, listeners have seen you make your rounds from reality TV to finding a new label. Even though FOR CERTAIN (Deluxe) is a full-length debut under Epic Records, do you already feel like a young veteran? 

I definitely feel like a young veteran because of what I have been through on the business side. It has taught me how to maneuver through the music industry. I feel like I linked with Epic [Records] at the perfect time. We both allow each other to be great. I am not lazy, so they do not feel bad supporting me. They know I am going my hardest every day. 

In 2019, Russ and your hit “BEST ON EARTH” caught the attention of Rihanna. You performed at her third runway installation of the Savage X Fenty Show. How did that affirmation feel? 

I speak on Rihanna all the time! She is one of my favorite people in the world. So I would always say, “I want to go on tour with Rihanna.” I spoke Rihanna’s existence into my life. When she asked me personally to do the Savage Fenty Show, I fell out [laughs]. God and Rihanna linked up. They are doing it for me right now. 

You have mentioned her and Ivy Queen as another one of your references. Now you and Rihanna have a personal dynamic. Does that fuel your motivation during this next chapter? 

One thing that it does is open a lot of ears. It has allowed me to maximize everything that I put out. People are opening doors. When I would put out music before, sometimes it would fall on deaf ears. Legends embrace me. I love Ivy Queen! She is one of the people that [was influential]. It is always her flow. The way she comes in on a record is so captivating. 

Ivy Queen is a blueprint for what we see presently in that space. 

Exactly! She is like GOAT-level in reggaeton. In female rap to me, as well. I do not look to too many other people for inspiration. 

“MOTIONLESS” addresses you growing up with a single mother. You said you “… guess it’s God’s plan because she had a superstar for a daughter.” What does her resilience mean to you?

My mom’s resilience [is why] I am so thankful for her. She is just so strong. She has never given up on me. You have to see examples of strong women to be that. 

Your team advised you are working with a Brazilian superstar. What can your supporters anticipate? 

Ah, what can my supporters anticipate? Well, that is my girl. 

How do you wish to be remembered? 

Overall, I wish to be remembered as an artistic, creative, and authentic person. I manifest world tours, tons of number one records, and collaborations with people I love. And yeah, Rihanna!