Compton’s own Brittany Barber is a talented singer-songwriter whose future is as bright as it is long. Get familiar and hear her new cut “Luckiest Girl” ASAP.
Ever wondered who penned some of Bhad Bhabie’s greatest hits? While the 15-year-old went viral on her own terms, it’s Brittany B (née Brittany Barber) who sits in the studio with the young star, with songwriting credits on standout records such as “These Heaux,” “Mama Don’t Worry,” and “I Got It.” So, who is Brittany B?
Born and raised in Compton, California, Brittany B is a woman of soul, charm, and integrity. You might think, how does a soulful singer get to write for an “artist” like Danielle Bregoli? Well, with Brittany’s help, the “Cash Me Outside” girl became the youngest female rapper to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with “These Heaux” peaking at number 77.
Brittany describes Danielle as her little sister, recalling a time when Danielle almost tried to test her. The result was Brittany grabbing her by the hair and reminding her she was really from the hood. From that day forward, Danielle had learned her lesson. A mere reminder that Brittany is deeply-rooted in the city of Los Angeles, which also serves as the origin of her “love wins all” mantra.
While Brittany has also penned records for some big names in music as well as film, she now focuses on her own artistry as an R&B songstress. In celebration of this week’s First Look Fridaysubject release her new EP Urban Nostalgia, we talk to her about being the “luckiest girl” in the game, her upcoming music, and more. You can also stream the acoustic version of “Luckiest Girl,” which makes its premiere debut on Okayplayer, below.
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Brittany B: I feel like people are seeing and hearing [is] what’s new and fresh [and are] people who are relatable and are just like them. Back in the day, you had one guy group and one girl group. Now, you have the rocker, you have the lonely girl, you have the happy girl, you have the sex symbol, you have the boy group. I feel like now, what we’re seeing in the world today, are people that look just like you and I, that we can really relate to and that expresses the human conditions goes through every day. And I think that’s what’s really going on right now.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
BB: Oh my god. My most cherished influences would have to be…I listened to a lot of soul music growing up — like a lot. Mostly Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye. I listened to a lot of Mary J. Bligegrowing up and a lot of Destiny’s Child. I held those songs really dear to me. I don’t know about anybody else but when I was younger, I was really going down with Mary J. Blige. I was really going down with her. I was really singing about “Bills, Bills, Bills” when I didn’t have a bill in the world at 13. I hold them to a high standard in my heart because they showed me what real music can do for the world [and] how you can impact someone in the world. And there weren’t that many African American artists making it on a global scale. We had our local artists, but they weren’t really making it on that global scale. So those are some of my influences.
OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
BB: Growing up in Compton, California, you were either gangbanging, selling drugs, you were stripping, you were going to school, or you were playing a sport. As I grew up and developed and understood that I had this gift and this talent that God gave me and what my purpose really was, I had to develop my confidence, if that makes any sense. And develop my center of what it is and what I’m supposed to be doing with it as a creative. Whether that’s writing for other people (which I’ve done), singing background for other people (which I’ve done also), touring or really just expressing myself. So starting to get recognition and doing shows and gaining fans – it’s just been really humbling and just really cool. It was more just like, ‘Damn, this is cool!’ And people are really connecting with it. They’re really feeling it.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police, and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?
BB: All my music is about love. Every single song is about love. I write from different creative spaces for whomever but when it comes to my legacy and what I want to leave on this earth—it is to spread love. It hurts my heart every day seeing black and brown and people of color, minorities being destroyed. Families are being torn apart. I have four brothers and all my brothers are incarcerated. And a lot of people don’t know that about me. I just have to hold on to the love that I have — hold on to the good times. And that’s what I want my music to invoke in people. I want them to remember that good time, remember that feeling, remember that love, that lost love, or that first love. Or the love for they grandma. Or just love for themselves if they feeling bad on a bad day. That’s just where I’m at, is just spreading love in the world so that hopefully that day, somebody who’s driving down the street getting ready to go curse their boss out and now they’re like, ‘Nah, I’m listening to this song, and it calmed me down.’ Or they just broke with they boyfriend or something, because he cheated or something. And he heard the song and he’s like, ‘Damn, I really do love her. Let me go apologize.’
There’s so much going on in the world right now, between racism and sexism and just general crazy shit that’s going on America, I just want people to listen to my music and just know that they need to spread love. Bottom line. Spread love and just know that love wins at the end of the day.
OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?
BB: Last year, I broke my ankle on Runyon Canyon. I fell 14 feet down the cliff and I had to be airlifted out. It was crazy, and I have a plate and seven screws in my ankle now. I thought it was the end. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to live out my dreams because I couldn’t even walk. But it taught me to sit still. It taught me to plan. It taught me to be prepared. It taught me to get out of my own head. It taught me to be strong. And now I’m back like I never left.
I was feeling like everything happens for a reason. I was moving around, going too fast, hopping from studio to studio, doing three sessions a day — burning myself out. Really just burning myself out. Thinking that the more I did was going to equal being more productive. But there are people who are busy and people who are productive, right? So for me, I had to get sat down. God sat me down and was like, ‘Look. Sit down. Heal — not only your body — but also your mind and your spirit. And really set your plan together and what you’re going to do for your artistry and your music and your career.’ And I’m doing it.
OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as to how you’ve experienced it?
BB: I feel like right now the most important thing in the music industry scene is that we have variety. I feel like right now, there’s a lot of accessibility. I feel like there aren’t really gonna be that many labels anymore because… back in the old days, there used to be one black girl, one white girl, one Asian girl, one K-pop group, one boy band group. Or two! We had Backstreet Boysand ‘NSync. Like what? Now, we have a plethora of groups and artists, like Lorde. She’s like a dark, dark mysterious cool chick. And then we have Katy Perry who’s like a total opposite, but they all can live in the music industry space and not step on each other’s toes. We got YG and we got Nipsey. They can still live in the same lane and they can still be in the space without stepping on each other’s toes. I think that’s super important right now for the music industry, to be able to have artists that everyone can relate to because we’re more diverse than we were before.
OKP: How do you see it evolving in the next five years?
BB: In the next five years, I feel like tech companies and artistry are going to go hand and hand. Tech and music are gonna be hand and hand. It already is, but I feel like it’s gonna be even more. And I don’t really feel like it’s going to be any labels anymore.
OKP: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?
BB: I learn that it’s okay to be myself and express myself. And let out my feelings that I may not have necessarily let out before. Because I used to make music that I thought everybody wanted to hear. I make the party song like, ‘We poppin’ bottles, we seeing models!’ Like what? No! It’s okay for me write a song about getting my heart broken or write a song about sex or write a song about being lazy and not wanting to do nothing the whole day. It’s okay to write those things because everyone goes through that.
OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?
BB: Going to the Grammys in New York City, in the Big Apple. With all the lights and my fancy dress and getting nominated for best R&B album for my contributions to Ledisi’s album, Let Love Rule. And being amongst the elite of the elite in the music industry and being there because I deserve to be there, and because I worked very hard to be there. And just being grateful. Being super grateful.
OKP: What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what it has come to symbolize since you’ve entered into the professional life?
BB: The first song I ever wrote that got professionally put out was a song called “Love.” It was myself, Terrace Martin, and Ty Dolla $ign. I feel like it symbolized just keep pushing and keep creating because you love it and not because you’re seeking anything else. Because you never know how far your gift will really take you. All of us are so much farther than then. I look back and I’m like, “Wow, we were so young and just doing it.”
OKP: How can your music speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?
I think my music speaks to keeping the timelessness and classic-ness of bodies of work. I feel like people nowadays are so infatuated with just releasing content that they compromise the quality of it, for the quantity. For me, I’d rather make one classic, timeless record than make 10 records that don’t get played after the year 2018. So I feel like when people hear my music, they’re going to want to listen to it forever. Cause we forever experience the things I sing about in my music.
OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year going into the next and why?
BB: I would want to work with Drake because Drake to me hasn’t worked with any soul artists and I think that would be kind of cool. He’s done reggae. Of course, he does rap, and he’s even dabbled in some rhythmic stuff. But I haven’t really seen him get with anybody like a BJ The Chicago Kid or … you know what I mean? So I feel like maybe if he made one of those types of records — with me — it would be a cool thing.
OKP: What is the overall message that Brittany Barber is trying to present in her music?
BB: I’m just trying to let people know that love wins and that they can be themselves. And that it’s okay to love. It’s okay to love.
OKP: Can you break down the inspiration behind a song that you created but never put out?
BB: I feel like when you make songs that you create and you don’t put out, it’s mostly because of timing. It could be because that record is mostly just therapy for you. There are records that I’ve written just to get that thought out. It might not have been the best song, but it was a song that was necessary for that time to get that feeling out — or that idea out. My process is always like, is it good for the project or is it good for whatever’s going on in my life to release? And if so, then yeah. Y’all are gonna hear it. But if not, then… sometimes I come back to ideas. Sometimes it might be the production. I might be like, ‘Oh, that was a great idea, but it wasn’t executed properly.’ So then I go back into it.
OKP: How do you get over any anxiety before hitting the stage to perform live? What are some lessons or tips that you’ve learned from others about doing a stage show?
BB: For me, it’s more about preparing myself. I still get nervous, but I do take a shot. I do dance in the mirror, practice in the mirror — even my talking stuff. I be like, ‘Hey everybody!’ [Laughs] I’m never too big for that. And watching others, like when I toured with Chrisette Michele. Watching her on her tour, it was more about getting centered and getting all the noise away from you so that you be that artist. Because that’s what they’re looking for. When you go on stage, you are you. You are Brittany motherfucking B, you know what I mean? Those people are there to see you, so you have to become that. You got to just be confident in what you’re doing.
OKP: If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Brittany Barber — what would it be?
BB: They would learn that I am just like them. And that all I want to do spread love, spread good music, have a good time, and leave a good legacy. That’s it.
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her fomoblog.com and on Twitter @shirju.