By now you’ve probably heard Rihanna’s cutthroat anthem “Bitch Better Have My Money” about thirteen-dozen times (blasting out of passing cars; while you were out dancing last weekend; on the radio; through your own earbuds…). The savage single has got us even more pumped for Rihanna’s impending album R8, but allow us to introduce you to the ingenue who’s actually responsible for the hit: Her name is Bibi Bourelly and she’s just 20-years-old.
Hailing from Berlin (very proudly, might we add), Bourelly moved to L.A. about a year ago to pursue her singing, which is more of a involuntary muscle than a career path. “Music isn’t even what I do,” she says. “I learned the language of music the same time I learned the English language. Music is who I am; it’s part of the way that I understand things and learned how to do shit.” Her father, jazz fusion guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, is largely responsible for this. “My dad would play Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest over and over again,” she remembers. “I learned that shit inside and out.” (Along with a healthy dose of Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, and Marvin Gaye she adds.) “Mannn, the world’s music influenced me, really though,” she says. “I’ve been exposed to so many different sounds and music growing up that it’s hard for me to even reckon who exactly influenced me.”
Shortly after she arrived in California, she wrote “BBHMM” (Specifically for RiRi) and a soul-infused song called “Higher.” Rihanna heard and loved both thanks to Kanye, who Bourelly had recently landed a studio session with. It’s all moving pretty damn fast, but Bourelly’s set on keeping it real. “I went from being a high school student to being a respected musician in the world’s biggest music industry scene,” she says, slightly bemused. “The funny part about it is that I’m normal as shit, you know? It was a hard transition—and it still is—to being treated normal to being put upon a pedestal and also having people hate me for no reason. A lot of people get lost in that shit…and even now I find myself trying to concentrate on the fact that I’m completely regular. I worked hard and long for my talent and skill, but I’m a normal person who gets hurt and finds things funny and laughs at dumb shit and makes terrible mistakes.”
Now that we know her name and her incredible sound, Bourelly’s introducing us to her own voice, which is as raw and fierce as the girl herself. Her first single “Riot” garnered her even more fans who are eager to see what the singer/songwriter comes up with next. For now, there’s no date set for an album, but we can rest easy knowing that Bourelly never stops—see her Instagram for proof (her latest studio selfies have been alongside Skrillex and Pharell). “I keep having to remind myself that the only reason that I make music is for my people,” she says. “I just want to help my people and I want them to know that somebody out there understands them, because I didn’t have that. I didn’t feel like anybody understood me, and I know what that’s like. In the grand scheme of things, as little and as minuscule as my heartache, happiness, joy, anger, and sorrow may be compared to the entire gigantic world, I’m willing to give my people myself through my music,” she says. “Because I think that’s the least I can do.”