“I always throw ’em a lil’ something.”
I’m sitting across from Brittnee Moore and her friend Raven in a bedroom at Contessa Stuto’s apartment, chatting over burgers and fries. Contessa comes in to tell Moore that she’s going to the grocery store, and her dog, lured by the smell of burger grease, runs around our feet. As I try to push the dog out the door, Moore throws it a french fry.
“I always throw ’em a lil’ something. They’re like kids – they like cookies. At home, if I have something I really want for myself, I have to act like I’m using the bathroom and I sit on the toilet to eat it. Sometimes I eat ice cream in the shower. My granny will be like, “Why is there an ice cream carton in the toilet?” No matter what it is, my kids will always want some. Nothing is mine.”
Moore is the Tennessee rapper BBYMUTHA, and she’s in New York to perform two shows and record a music video. Well, one show – we’re meeting the day after her first gig at Contessa’s party Cherrybomb, which was shut down by the police before she went on. You’d imagine she’d be disappointed, and she probably is, but it doesn’t show. Although Moore is in New York for work, she’s acting like she’s on vacation, not letting things that are out of her control ruin her mood. She’s cracking jokes and sharing stories about the previous night’s shenanigans as if nothing happened. With four kids and an aging grandmother, her life in her hometown of Chattanooga, TN must be busy, and this is her well-deserved break.
It’s likely you haven’t heard of BBYMUTHA, and it’s also likely that when you hear her music, it’ll sound strangely familiar. There’s a reason for that. One of the specials things about BBYMUTHA is how she turns music into beats with her voice alone. Transforming songs that most people would never think of as hip hop into completely new tracks simply by adding bars. Like a true MC, her verses are intelligent interplay between rhythm, rhyme, and meaning that will consistently catch you off guard.
You just came out with a new EP, Muthaz Day. What was it like to make it?
My fans were pressuring the fuck out of me to drop that. I’m like, come on, I have four kids, I have a grandma to take care of. Now she’s in a nursing home. I don’t have time to sit around and just write all day like I wish I could. I only get to write when I’m in the shower.
I was supposed to release Muthaz Day on mother’s day, but I ended up getting kidney stone. I knew I was going to drop this tape before going to New York. So, my mom came and got the little kids for a couple of days. My other kids were in summer camp and the summer camp they go to my little cousin also goes to, and they’d go to his house after camp and spend the night. I had almost a week to just write. But I ended up getting kidney stone again and having to go to the Emergency Room – I could not believe it.
I refused to let a kidney stone stop me from recording this tape – I had all my songs written and all my beats ready to go. So, I just waited, got up Thursday morning, and recorded all those songs while my kids were at camp and the little kids were sleeping. I stayed up all night and it was 6:00 am before I was done. Then I sent it to my friend Tessuroh who cleans it up.
Tessuroh lives in D.C. I found him on Youtube through a song that he was featured on and we became buddies. We have a song together, so when I played my very first show in Baltimore, he drove up to perform with me.
It seems like you’ve made a lot of connections on the internet.
When I say, I’m always in this damn phone, I mean it. That’s really my problem – I stay in this phone all day, because there’s always something going on. I don’t have no friends, for real. Raven here is my friend but she’s always on the go. I like Snapchat because I can vent, it goes out into the universe, and it’s deleted. I don’t have to worry about it. I like Twitter because I like to talk. Plus, Twitter is funny as hell. It has been the biggest networking thing for me. I’ve met so many people because of Twitter. Like, I met Tommy Hilfiger’s son Richy Hil. We were cool for a while. I love Twitter.
How did you meet Joey LaBeija and the Camp & Street crew?
I knew Joey LaBeija from before. When Joey invited me here for his party Legendary, I stayed with Le1f and Don Christian. They were so cool. At home, whenever people have any kind of buzz or fame, I always expect them to be bourgie, but that’s not how it is here. I stayed with Le1f and I was like hell, he treating me like he been knowing me. I met Junglepussy that weekend too. I really respect her. I also met Rahel, and we all did this photoshoot for Gayletter – Rahel, Don, and I. They make me feel like family. I live in a city with all these people I’ve grown up with who treat me like nothing, and then to come out to this city where nobody knows me and all these people treat me like I’m their little sister ... I love them.
Honestly, Rahel is my favorite singer right now. Rahel is different, she doesn’t sound like anybody else, she doesn’t try to sound like anybody else. And she is just so gorgeous.
What are your biggest musical influences?
People laugh at me when I say this, but my biggest influence is Gucci Mane. I love Gucci. Gucci inspires the fuck out of me. "Like hell, you in jail, and you put out more work than anybody?" I’m not in jail ... but I don’t have a studio. I have a cell phone and a tablet. That’s what I record my music on. If this thing can make albums in jail, I can make some goddamn albums in my living room.
Gucci is definitely a big influence. And I’m trying to think of other people but ... I don’t see how people are heavily influenced by other people. For me, I can’t think of anybody that makes me think: I see them doing it and I wanna rap because of them. Like, Lil’ Kim was not one of my influences. I love Lil Kim but she’s not one of my influences. I love Erykah Badu, but she’s not one of my influences. I look up to them, but they don’t influence my music. My life influences my music.
When people are asked about their influences, they’ll give you a list, even when their music sounds nothing like those artists. It’s like, "how did they influence you?" I don’t know, maybe it’s like me and Gucci. If-he-can-do-it-I-can type shit. Gucci’s my hero.
Did you grow up in Tennessee?
For the most part. When I was 12 I moved to Pensacola, Florida. We moved there because my mom got pregnant by some man and he wanted to move us away, so we moved with him. I only stayed there for a year. I ended up getting expelled from school, and moved back home. I’ve been in Tennessee ever since. I lived in Nashville for a bit, but Tennessee is where I’ve been.
When did you start rapping?
When I was in the sixth grade, there was this girl who used to fuck with me all the time. Another girl said to me, “I don’t know why you scared of her, she ain’t shit, she masturbates with frozen hotdogs.” I wrote a poem about it, a mean ass poem, and put it in her locker. She read it and got really mad. The boys at the school were beating on the table, reading it to the beat. They were like, “These is bars!” That’s kind of where it started.
But I’ve always written. I have notebooks and notebooks from when I was little. I would flip through catalogs, see shit that I liked and write down how much it cost – for no fucking reason, just because I liked to write. It went from that to writing plays. I would pass the book around at school, everybody would read my plays and be like, “You should go finish! What’s the next chapter?!”
Then, in tenth grade, me and my cousin Chicoya had a group called “Money over Niggas”. I was Miss Cherry Cocaine. We weren’t putting that on tapes or anything like that.
When I was 19, my friend Marlon invited me to his studio. We were at the studio and I said, let me make a song. He asked me to pick a beat, and I picked “Feelin’ It” by Jay Z. I wrote the verse in like 5 minutes, and that became my first song. If you go on my Soundcloud, the first song on there is called “Slut”. I always had an interest in it but I never knew if I was good or anything. But when I wrote that first verse, I was pretty pleased and thought it sounded cool. To this day, “Slut” is one of my favorite verses by me. I was dating a rapper at the time and he liked it too, so I was like, oh shit, I got the juice on the beat! From there I went on to record a couple of songs.
Then shit started getting real. I moved to Nashville for college and ended up getting pregnant. My boyfriend was crazy as shit. He was like, I ain’t wanna be dating no rapper. He was super controlling. So, I kind of took this long-ass hiatus, and when I moved back to Chattanooga thought, fuck this shit, I got music I want to make. And I started again. I don’t know why I ever stopped. It’s been the best thing.
You’ve written about that on your blog, how hard that relationship was for you.
Yes my little twins’ father is crazy. Even now he thinks he runs me, and I just have to let him know that, nigga, you don’t run shit over here, I’m not your girlfriend. He’s got his own issues ... but he be alright.
He got mad just before I came here. I guess he was trying to come see the kids, so I told him I was going to be out of town. He said, “You need to work at being a mother and father together because you can’t just be a rapper for the rest of your life.” He says the dumbest shit and always tries to make me feel bad. But I have my kids 24/7, I rarely get breaks, and the fact that I take my time is okay to me. It’s not like I’m not going to feed the kids because I gotta drop this mixtape. Hell no! It doesn’t happen like that. I take care of my kids and I rap too. If anything, he should be my biggest supporter. I’m taking care of your kids and I’m doing this shit. But he’s very negative and has low self-esteem, so he wants everyone around him to have low self-esteem too. But that ain’t happening around here.
I don’t understand it though. If you claim you love somebody, you see them trying to do something, and they’re actually getting shit accomplished, support them! It’s not like I’m fifty years old, running around with mixtapes in my trunk. Like, “You wanna check out my mixtape?” No, I’m actually making moves.
What have been some of the most exciting things that have happened lately?
I recently got booked in Sweden. Like, oh my god, how do you guys even know me over there? It’s crazy when I post up. So I’m going to Sweden in July. They’re opening up this new club, and are bringing me there to perform. I didn’t know anybody knew who I was in Sweden, so I tweeted something like, “Everybody keep telling me I’m not gonna make it, but I just got booked in Sweden so you can kiss my ass.” And somebody commented on it: “I can’t wait to see you!” I’m like, "where did you come from?!"
On Weave you have an interlude called “Regina George is Dead”. What’s the story behind that?
When I was in high school, nobody liked me. I was weird as fuck. And so, a couple of girls I went to high school with – they rap and sing and shit now – they’re my Regina Georges. A little circle of bitches that feel like they have to put someone else down in order to be successful. I rap about bitches I can’t stand. I’m not gonna lie, if I feel some type of way about a bitch being disrespectful towards me, I will rap about it. At the same time, I just wish girls didn’t have to be like that. I wish we could kill all the Regina Georges and all the flat bitches could just kick it in peace. All the Bulmas and the Chi-Chis.
Dragon Ball Z!
Yeah, Bulma is a bad bitch. I am Bulma, can’t nobody say I’m not Bulma. Bulma’s so fine. She had all the niggas eating out of the palm of her hand, everybody wanted Bulma, she was sexy as fuck. To put the icing on the cake, Vegeta is her man. I have a crush on Vegeta. Like, that’s my cartoon crush. I know this is terrible, but he’s basically everything I want in a man. I love aggressive niggas, who are just like, “I don’t give a fuck about you,” but then they fuck the shit out of you and tell you they love you. I want to be somebody’s Bulma and I want someone to be my Vegeta. That’s why I’m going to marry Fredo Santana.
It makes so much sense that you hang with all these New Yorkers. Your cultural references are all over the place. You’re like a cyborg.
He’s very cyborg.
I feel like you have that too.
That’s because I grew up with my dad. My dad’s a nerd. I was into Dragon Ball Z because he was into Dragon Ball Z. If I hadn’t grown up with my dad I probably wouldn’t even have known who Bulma was. We had every system. Streetfighter was my shit. I would play with my cousins. You know how you pick your person? Well, I always picked the same person. My cousins would get so mad. The fact that I have kids and I still watch cartoons, even some of the new cartoons... I swear I love Lumpy Space Princess too. That’s me too! I’m her too! She gets me.
Have you thought about leaving Tennessee, moving somewhere else?
For a long time I was looking at apartments up here [in NYC], and I realized you all gotta be fucked up. Rent’s too much here. But I definitely don’t want to live in Chattanooga. There’s nothing wrong with it, but for what I’m trying to do, it’s not where I should be. There’s no music scene out there. Everybody just wants to be whoever is popular. Future is poppin’ right now, everybody wants to be Future. Everybody wants to autotune their voices and rap sing. Everybody doing the rap like Migos. If you go look up some Chattanooga artists and watch their music videos, you would see 90 percent of those mutherfuckers standing in front of a car with some money in their hands. You’re going to hear the word bankroll at least 30 times.
So, I definitely wanna get away, I just don’t know where to. I would love to live in New York but I don’t know how y’all do it, I would have to get a full-time nursing job.
Do you have a job in Chattanooga?
No. I was working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) until I had Chloe and Tyler. After that, my plan was to take a year off and then just get back into the workforce. I know this sounds bad, but I don’t wanna be doing something that I’m going to be miserable doing just to make a chip. I know I gotta feed my kids but I’m gonna feed my kids regardless.
[Her phone buzzes]
If you gotta take it, take it.
No, this is Joey sending me pictures of my butt. What in the hell?
There’s been several articles recently about the rise and fall of Iggy Azalea. She had her moment while she was on the up and now everyone is turning against her. Azealia Banks and Nikki Minaj are getting their revenge. Have you been following this?
I follow all of the Iggy shit because it’s funny to me. She gets so upset when people make fun of her. Like, “bitch, you put yourself there, you want to be in the spotlight, that shit is expected.” I would have more respect for Iggy if she stood up for herself. If she feels like she’s not trying to culturally appropriate, then say, “I don’t give a fuck what you all are thinking, I’m making my music ... This is why I like rapping...” But she won’t even try to defend herself. She’s just like, “Everybody is bullying me, I can’t believe this ...” So, I can’t respect Iggy because she’s not even bitch enough to stand up for her own self. How are you gonna be a female rapper? Female rappers are supposed to be boss bitches, you know what I’m saying? Go hard, not give a fuck. Not necessarily hood, but they gotta have a presence. Nikki has a presence, Azealia has a presence. So it’s like, how are you gonna be this weak ass, soft ass, butter ass female rapper. It makes no sense to me. That’s how I feel about Iggy. I don’t give a fuck if that bitch had dookie braids and a little grill. She’s weak to me.
... Wait, I do give a fuck if she has dookie braids, I feel some type of way about that. But if she had dookie braids and a presence, I would at least respect the fact that she had a presence. But she doesn’t, she just lets too much shit get to her. Be a woman.
What do you have coming up this summer?
Well, I’m going to Sweden. I might have one or two other shows but I still have to work out those details. Other than that, I’m really just trying to work on my album Motherland. Whenever I’m done with that, I’m going to release it. I’m not recording that shit on my phone, I’m finding a studio, I want it to be perfect.
When is it coming out?
I’m not sure, and I’m not going to put a release date out. I don’t even like to say I’m working on something cause everyone will be like, “drop it!” People are crazy. That’s what I don’t like about rapping. People are so demanding. Just because you make music doesn’t mean you’re not a human. I still have a life outside of rapping.
You talk about that on Twitter ... how it annoys you that people take you for granted.
People are weird as shit. They take pictures from my page and put them on their own Instagram page. Like, “Look at my baby!” No that’s not your baby, that’s my baby. That’s disrespectful as fuck. You could at least ask me for permission to post a picture of my child on your page. I don’t know you and I don’t care how much of a fan you are, or how much you appreciate my music. Simply do not post pictures of my child on your page. I’ve stopped posting pictures of my children. I hate that I have to do that because I love them and I love posting pictures of them, but not everybody needs to see those pictures. You gotta be careful because people do not care. Especially on the internet, nobody cares anymore.