BbyMutha is a new type of rap role model. The clever Chattanooga, Tennessee, rapper and mother of four is unconcerned with matters of reputation. In fact, her unfiltered transparency is her what makes her music so impactful. At the age of 17, she gave birth to her first set of twins and seven years later, she was blessed with another pair. Now, at 28, BbyMutha raises her adorable kids as a supremely cool mom while enlightening the rest of us with her perceptive and freaky raps.
BbyMutha’s songs create a space where she can vent about some of her experiences and share gems that she’s learned from some of life’s painful and tricky lessons. She boldly reclaims the stigma around being a single mother and rejects the limitations that society has set for her. At the end of 2016, she released an EP, Glow Kit, that features singles like “Roses” and “Rules.” In a syrupy southern-midwest drawl, BbyMutha candidly raps about about the politics of having sex with thirsty guys, revenge plots against cheaters, and celebrates the dynamic of her womanhood.
In a recent phone call, we talked about balancing motherhood with music, the power of confidence, and why men are often messy and ungrateful.
When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of rap?
In 2013, after I had my youngest set of twins. I had them and then I started working with LSDXOXO and we made a song together and it took off. He recruited me to collaborate on a song called “Black Widow” on his mixtape Whore Core. People were trying to find out who I was and I thought, "Well maybe I can do this." I'd made a few songs a few years before that but it was just something to do because I could. The song was about killing my husband.
Was that inspired by something that you were going through or feeling?
Yes, my baby dad was psycho. I knew he was psycho when I met him but it was cute. It was like, He's crazy and he's mean but he’s not like that to me. I felt protected until he got to the point of being that way to me. Then he was messing with other girls on top off the fact that he was abusive so I just was like, Damn I wish I could kill him and get away with it. That’s how I coped with it. One day, he jumped on me and beat the shit out of me and I couldn't do it anymore so I left.
I'm happy you were able to leave.
Me too. He's better now. He was an alcoholic and he lives in California and went to rehab and got better. We're best friends. The thing that will help men is when they acknowledge that they're fucked up. It's hard for them to acknowledge that they're fucked up because of the way the world is. People make men think it's okay to be the way that they are. Once they acknowledge that it’s not and they actively get help or change then they can get better. I'm not sure what it takes for people to do that. When it first started, he was verbally abusive and we'd argue all the time. I blocked him and wouldn't let him talk to me until he learned how to talk to people. He was just really drunk but once he figured out he wanted to be a part of his kids life, he went and got help.
It’s a blessing to have two sets of twins.
It's crazy and it's hectic but I can get why people say that. It's a lot at all times and it's never a chill moment. They all have strong personalities and I don't like a lot of chaos and they are very chaotic. It's two Scorpios and two Leos and it's just a lot for my Virgo ass.
Before you decided that you were really ready to rap in 2013, had you thought about it at all before?
I write everything down. I've always been a writer and my mom used to encourage me to do it. When I was younger I used to want to go into fashion design and my mom was like, "You should be a fashion editor." I like rapping, it's easier to express myself with music — it's more fun and creative to make a cool song about how I feel.
What's that been like for you to be in Chattanooga during this time where you’re seeing recording music and then seeing it take off on the internet both locally and internationally?
The first crazy thing that happened was me getting booked in Sweden last year. That was the power of SoundCloud. The woman who booked me was listening to me on a shuffle. I've also been able to link up with artists who I never thought I'd get together with. The internet makes the world a little bit smaller. I've been able to talk to people that I admire just off the strength that we followed each other on Twitter and now I'm conversing with my favorite artists.
On your Twitter, you said you’re so into your identity because when you were younger you had to defend it so much. What was your identity then and what did people challenge you on?
I was a bad-ass kid but it wasn't normal. I was doing really crazy shit and I had to mature because my dad was a barber and on the weekends he would work really late until about 1 a.m. I would be home with my little brother and my dad was raising me by himself after he went through a divorce. I understand it now but he kind of left us emotionally hanging.
There were a lot of older guys that liked me, so I started having sex when I was like 12. I learned how to sell dope really young. I also dressed weird and this was 2005-2007 when Jordans were poppin'. I had Chuck Taylors in every color, I'd wear my hair in ponytails and put shoelaces every color in my hair. I was just strange. I fought so much in high school, and it was so bad. I had to get to a point where I didn't care what people thought about me. I knew that I didn't like what they thought about me. I knew that I wasn't about to change to wear what they wore because it was popular. In the 5th grade, Sauconys were popular and my mom was poor. She worked really hard and I got really good grades so she went to Limited Too and got me a outfit and a bubble vest. The outfit didn't even go together but I wore it all to school and bitches was like, "You late, we been had this." I'm like, Damn well I'm might as well do what the fuck I want and be who the fuck I want because bitches are going to talk shit either way.
How did those experiences impact your self-esteem or self-awareness as you continued to grow up?
High school was the lowest point in my self-esteem but it was like I was comfortable with it. I have older cousins who went from big glasses to be fine as hell and in college with cute-ass bodycons, so I just accepted being the lame girl in high school and once I graduated it was different. I worked and had my own personal style but when you're in high school you feel so much pressure to do be like everyone else. All the colorful hair, I been doing that. People saw me having confidence in myself and then bitches would start wearing it. Art influences culture, especially if you have the confidence to back up what you have on. So everyone else wants to look like the people who have confidence. Rihanna could walk down the street in a plastic bag and it'd be like, "You look so great!" Not only is she beautiful, but she's so confident.
There's this line in your song "I'm Da Shit" where you say you “Fucked around and had more twins but I’m still living my mothafuckin' life.” How have you been able to do that?
There's a time and a place for everything. I have daughters and I always want to encourage them to be themselves and I don't sugarcoat anything for my kids. I don't want them to look at me and think that. That's why I was into bad shit when I was younger because everyone was so secretive. I teach my kids that some things aren't the best things for you but you shouldn't do them until you get a certain age. I'm a grown-ass woman and I waited a long-ass time to be a grown-ass woman to be able to do what I want. I'm not about to let my kids tell me I can't do stuff because they're my kids [laughs].
As long as I'm not putting them in danger or harming them in any way, I still have every right to be myself. I'm still a human and I'm not just somebody's mom. There's many facets to who I am. I'm not going to wait until my kids turn 18 to do things, I'll be 60 years old trying to turn up and it'll be too late. I also don't feel like that's doing your kids a favor. My kids have a fine life and I still do me. Nobody puts that pressure on dads. We don't tell them not to be in the club. It sucks. There's this fucked up idea of what a mother is supposed to be.
Was there ever a time when you didn't know how you were going to keep on rapping and doing this balancing act of being a full-time mom?
I still don't know [laughs]. I'm booked every weekend in November and my nanny for the younger twins just moved. The only thing that's kept me rapping is that it seems like the universe won't let me not do it. I've been down to an hour before my flight with no babysitter and then one of my aunties will pop up and ask to borrow something and then they'll be able to watch them. It's meant for me to do it. It always works out when I don't think it will. It's meant for me to do it. When I'm thinking it must be time for me to quit and things are falling apart, something big always happens. There's too many signs that tell me to keep going.
“When the hoes that guys talk about make songs then we gotta shut the fuck up? Why? It’s two sides to every story and if men want to make song about fucking then we gotta make songs about being fucked.”
You’re reclaiming a lot of what people might say you shouldn’t celebrate in your music. How did you choose your name?
I was dating this guy and I got pregnant by him. He ended up going to jail for a little bit and this girl that he used to go back and forth with... I feel like I was the side bitch. She kept talking shit about me on social media and she kept calling me a babymama. That stuck with me and made me feel bad and all of the shit that I went through and it was like, Damn you're going to reduce me to this. I'm just a baby mama? She had me fucked up. What ended up happening was, he made me get an abortion and he didn't even come with me. I logged into Tumblr when I got back home and they had a big ass bbq. It felt like they were celebrating me getting rid of the baby. I called my friend and I was like, "Damn, what if I am just someone's baby mama?"
She was like, "Why does that have to be a bad thing? You can spin that and that can be a great thing. Being a baby mom doesn't have to be a bad thing." I guess everyone thinks you're supposed to be married and a wife. But these days, people are getting married because they don't want to be alone or are keeping up an image. So I felt like I needed to reclaim it: being a baby mama is not the worst thing in the world. I want single moms to be proud, like, yes bitch, you're doing it.
People don't know the toll that it takes on your mental state, especially if you don't have friends with kids. Sometimes you feel by yourself. I get really lonely sometimes. People are like, "How are you lonely with your kids?" It's like first of all bitch, I can't have sex with my kids. I can't have intimate emotional connections with my kids. There are different energies that you need. You don't give everyone the same energy. I wish people would cut that shit out. [Single moms] are still normal-ass people.
In your music, sometimes you’re directly addressing a person and there’s other times where it's like you're getting things off your chest. What does talking about your real-life scenarios do for you?
It's therapeutic and I like to vent and I will vent to everybody. I don't give a fuck. If my business is out there can't nobody expose me. I don't have nothing to hide and I'm not ashamed or embarrassed and that's why I am so open. When I'm rapping about the shit that I'm going through. it's like talking to a friend.
On "Rules," you're educating us. Guys get mad when there’s a song like that directly provides women with game and perspective about men.
It's crazy because if guys listened to that song and didn't get so caught up and offset by the word "pussy," they'd realize the second verse is for men. It's about when I was living with my baby daddy and niggas kicked in his air conditioning unit in shot him in the arm with an AK-47. It's a very unisex song and if all else fails, change pussy to dick. For years, I've had to swap it out so why can't they do it?
Why do you think men are so messy and ungrateful?
They are crazy. I love men but years and years of how they've been conditioned to be is why. I actually don't know. Maybe their dads are like that. Guys do some trash shit. I've done some fucked up shit too but men do it and don't care. The trash stuff I've done, I've had remorse but they don't give a fuck. My first baby daddy was fucking my little cousin the whole time and nobody told me! I found out because her boyfriend went to her house and knocked on the door and no one answered and he sees her in the window getting drilled by my baby daddy. [Laughs] Like, what the fuck?!
Men are strange. They have these feelings but they're forced to suppress them and if they express them then they're weak and that has a lot to do with it. It's cool to have three or four bitches and act like they wanna fuck and never call again. Boy, you know want to call me. If that's the case go fuck your friends. [Laughs] It's lame. They have to grow up.
Where does the Twitter bio "I'll beat y'all ass” come from. Who are you talking to?
I had to change my bio to that when the video for "Rules" was circulating and niggas was trying it. People were trying to be mean and say that I was a wannabe Cupcakke or Nicki or Cardi B. I just want to be myself. I don't think I give that vibe that I want to be anyone else. People were talking so much shit and I'm like, "Y'all got the wrong bitch. Drop your location I might pull up." People talk about what I created and then expect me to ignore it.
Whenever you speak up for yourself, it's like "Don't let it get to you." It's like if you gave birth to a child and somebody walks into a room and says, "Damn that baby ugly." You goin' be mad and pissed the fuck off! If you're entitled to your opinion, I'm entitled to defend my work. If you're going to publicly say some shit to me, I'm going to do the same. I can ignore the hate but they could've ignored my video.
Where do you think that hate comes from?
A lot of it is colorism. I'm not the darkest but I'm not high yellow. I don't have laid-ass baby hairs. People were saying I should've sold my verse to Nicki Minaj. People were saying, they like the message but wish I didn't look like that. Bitch, this is what I look like. I'm supposed to be cute to talk about something I care about? I'm supposed to be light skinned with a fat ass, long weave, and fat titties? Well, every bitch in the world don't look like that.
Men love saying, "Everybody wanna be a hoe." If anything that song is encouraging women to be selective. But any time a woman talks about pussy, it's a hoe music. Let it be a hoe anthem then. I'd rather be a careful hoe then act like I'm not fucking at all. People act like for women, sex doesn't exist. But niggas talk about how much they get pussy so they gotta be fucking somebody. They're not having sex with themselves. When the hoes that guys talk about make songs then we gotta shut the fuck up? Why? It's two sides to every story and if men want to make song about fucking then we gotta make songs about being fucked.
So, what's next? Are you working an album?
I’m working on my album and I can’t figure out what to name it. I should really name the album I’ll Beat Y’all Ass because that’s the mood for 2017-2018 [laughs]. But it’s going to be great. It’s supposed to come out in March if everything goes as planned but I’m really excited about that. I just finished storyboarding for the “Dancing on the Dick” video and that’s going to be epic, like a mini movie. If mothafuckas wanna talk about the quality of my last shit they’re going to gag at my new shit because I just leveled up on y’all bitch asses! We’re shooting the video the weekend of Black Friday so hopefully it’ll come out around Christmas time.
Thumbnail via Instagram