The Beat ‘n’ Track with Miss B.
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The Beat ‘n’ Track with Miss B.

For the first installment of The Beat ‘n’ Track, Vision editor Erin Carson caught up with Bianca Edwards, better known as Miss B., via Skype to talk about life as a rapper inside and outside the Belmont music scene. Miss B. began writing poetry as a kid, but now finds herself a junior music business major at Belmont. Turns out that these days the winner of the 2009 Urban Pop Showcase is a big fan of Drake, writing at night, and – at the moment – she’s eyeing Atlanta.

Vision: How did you start out?

Miss B.: I was signed to an independent label in D.C. at 14 and took off from there. I’m no longer with them. Actually I have my own company now, an LLC, so basically I’m signed to myself right now.

What was it that got you started down the road of wanting to rap and be in music?

With the poetry, I actually got an idea from a friend. They said, “You’re really good at poetry. Have you ever tried to do your poetry with music, and tried to rap it?” And I was like, “No, I’ve never tried that before.” And they were like, “You know, you should try it,” so I started doing it. I was good at it, and I wrote all the time, so I guess it became a habit to write and to do it with music. But I never, when I was younger, considered it to be a career at all because I was always the smart kid. I always wanted to be the lawyer or the doctor or something like that. People started telling me I was really good at it and I should keep doing it, and it just took over my life.

Do you have a process for when you write?

I get most of my ideas at night, so most of the time when I write it’s always midnight or after, and when I’m writing to music, I have to have the music very loud. It’s a habit. I try to become one with the beat or the instrumental, and then I write from there, so that’s the process when I already have the music. Other times, if I have a story to tell I write the story out first, and then I’ll make the rhyme patterns from there.

Where do you think that rap and hip-hop fit into the Belmont music scene?

It was definitely hard trying to fit in at first, but what I learned from being at Belmont – going on my third year this year – is that students at Belmont just like good music. Whether it’s indie music or pop, or even hip-hop, as long as it’s good music and the artist is talented they appreciate it, so I think that’s how it fits in. As long as you’re good at what you do, and you practice, and you legitimately have talent, I think people come out to your shows and they support your music and really learn to appreciate you as an artist. Belmont’s very critical, so you can’t just be like, “Uh, today I’m going to rap.” It has to be a career.

Who would you say has influenced you? And who do you listen to?

I’m influenced a lot by old female rappers like MC Lyte –  I love her, hands down – and the old Lil’ Kim, before she started getting into the pop realm. Right now, consistently, I listen to Nicki Minaj because as far as female MCs, she’s the artist I compete with – not literally because I’m not at the same level that she is, but I want to be, so it’s like studying your competition. I listen to her a lot. And Drake, I really respect his flow. I kind of use and learn from him as far as how he flows and stuff like that.

What was the last album that you bought?

The last album that I bought was Drake’s Thank Me Later.

And that was a good pick?

Oh, definitely – start to finish.

What do you like about it?

I like the fact that he sings and raps, the double threat is awesome. I think it’s one or two songs that have Auto-Tune on it. A lot of times nowadays these rappers are getting caught up in doing the dance songs and the songs with all the Auto-Tune on it. This album is lyrical. It has substance to it, so you can listen to it, you can learn from it, and it’s really something that makes you think. That’s how rap started out. The purpose of it was to tell stories or to talk about the DJ. It started from people, MCs hyping up their DJ. Drake and Nicki Minaj and the artists that are out now are getting away from doing the dance records and the Auto-Tune and stuff. They’re going back to the actual story telling, and that’s why I like it a lot.

To backtrack a little bit, you were saying that you got signed when you were 14 years old, can you talk a little bit about how that happened?

My sister was actually dating a guy that was in A&R for an independent label out of DC. She introduced me to him, and I rapped for them and they signed me. But you know how they say, “Not every deal is a good deal?” That was the case with me. I was so young, and I was so caught into the fact that I was getting signed and that I was making a little bit of money, for sneakers and food and everything. But the truth is I was too young, I wasn’t prepared enough, I don’t think, but I got some good things out of that with them, I got a lot of shows, I did a lot of compilation CDs with them and their label, video shoots, photo shoots, kind of to just get to know how the game worked. Also, they’re the ones who got me on BET’s 106 & Park and stuff like that, but I left them right after I turned 16.

So you were saying that you’re kind of signed to yourself.

I have my own LLC. It’s Exclusive Records LLC, and it’s basically just an entertainment company that me and my mom started together. That way I can put out music by myself, and just do my own thing without having someone control over me. If I was to get signed with a major label it would be more like a distribution deal between my label and them rather than them signing me as an artist.

You’ve done a lot of shows; is there one that sticks out?

The show that I did for Haiti stuck out a lot. It was an honor to be asked to perform. It was at Belmont. Taylor Swift showed up. I was sitting next to her, and I didn’t even know who she was. I just really thought it was another Belmont kid, and when I got up to perform, she moved up to the front and sat down in front of the stage, and I was just in awe, like, OK, Taylor Swift is here. I’ve done shows for a cause, I’ve done shows for HIV awareness and a lot of different stuff, but Haiti was one of those shows where you really felt like you were doing something. I actually wrote a song particularly for that event, so that made it even more special.

Do you have anything planned for the year?

I’m doing a song that I’m trying to get to Young Money Cash Money, so I’m going to be recording a lot, and this year I plan on assisting other artists at Belmont, whether it’s doing a lot of features, or doing a lot of shows with different artists. This past year I was doing so many shows by myself that people were asking me to do songs and I wasn’t able to do it. This year I’m really going to focus on teamwork with other artists and probably try to get in the Atlanta market a little bit.

Do you have advice for your fellow Belmont artists?

Don’t strive to be famous, don’t strive to make a lot of money, just strive to be a great artist because, in the end, your fans will appreciate your artistry. Your fans will appreciate the songs that you sing that relate to their life more so than the fact that you’re famous. I think a lot of times as students, we kind of get discouraged if this deal doesn’t go through, or if we don’t make the cut for this show, or the showcase. I think if we just strive to be great artists, everything else will be OK.

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