“Sorry, I just took a bite of food,” Babyxsosa says, a little embarrassed as she answers our FaceTime. She looks just as low-key as she does on her Instagram—comfy clothes, no makeup—and sounds exactly like her songs, her high-pitched voice piercing through the white noise of our call.

When you first hear 19-year-old artist Babyxsosa, her voice instantly sets her apart in the saturated world of SoundCloud rap. In a genre of airy, lo-fi trap that’s historically been dominated by men, this year, the Richmond, Virginia native is ready to prove herself as a real force to be reckoned with—all before she turns 20 this June.

In the few tracks she has out on SoundCloud, it’s easy to see that Babyxsosa’s sound is diverse; the refreshing “EVERYWHEREIGO,” for example, showcases the range and control of her melodic, high-pitched voice while one of her more recent drops, “HECTIC,” feature the artist quietly rapping for most of the song. Since joining NY-based music collective surf gang six months ago, the rising SoundCloud artist has been slowly making moves in the underground, gathering a loyal, supportive fan base that’s sure to grow.

Through it all though, her authenticity shines. Online, offline, and in her music, Babyxsosa only does what she wants, even if that sometimes means doing it alone. Read our interview with her below.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m known as Babyxsosa. 19. I’m a Cancer. I’m from Richmond, VA. I’ve been writing music since elementary school. I started playing the oboe in middle school. That’s when I learned [how to read music]. Then in high school I started DJing, learning how to make beats. I started getting in the studio, watching people engineer—just trying to learn everything behind the scenes. I was supposed to go to college for graphic design and intern at this place in New York, but it didn’t work out.

Where were you supposed to go to school? Why didn’t it work out?
Virginia Commonwealth University, but I didn’t get accepted. They said that I didn’t send in all of my stuff on time. It was around the same time that I was applying for that internship, so I wasn’t really on top of my s**t. I got the internship with, so I didn’t really care. But I couldn’t move to [New York] for an unpaid internship. So, that’s when I started rapping instead of trying to make beats or put out mixes all the time, I started to use my own voice.

Were you going to do design at the internship, too?
Yeah, I think they wanted me for my animations. I was doing these art shows at the time—I’d make these moving visuals with my mixes behind them, so it’d be a song playing with something on the projector. I sent them a couple movies, my graphic design—like my actual art—and they were just like, “We like your work and you’d be useful in the office.” [Laughs

But after all that I was like, you know, I can’t come to New York—I’m not even 18 yet. So that kind of just put the fire under my ass. Seeing that I was able to achieve all of my goals, but that they still flew right past me. I was like, “Nah, next time I’m gonna be ready to do what I want to do.” 

How’d you get into visual art and design?
I had gotten into this bad cheer accident, so I would spend a lot of time on the computer after that, just on SoundCloud and stuff. I couldn’t really do anything but sit in the house, so I would sneak and listen to music. I just really wanted to do photo shoots, set design, everything. 

I [was a cheerleader] for about 14 years. It’s almost equivalent to this rap stuff in terms of performing, getting dressed, getting makeup on, traveling, having to be places at a certain time, moving on a schedule. Our routines used to be two minutes and 30 seconds long, so it’s like performing one song. Everything’s pretty similar besides the actual sport of what I’m doing.

You switch between rapping and singing in your music. Did one style come first?
I started off rapping, freestyling—if I heard a song I felt like I could make that better. Just me rapping, all jokes. Then people started to take it seriously, and I realized I’m actually good. [As for] singing, I don’t really know how that happened. I guess my homie pulled up a slow beat, and he was like, “I have this beat for this girl, let me see how you sound on it.” And then I just took the whole song. 

It was easier to sing, honestly, but I’ve been writing music since I was [young]. My dad got me two guitars, an electric and an acoustic. I was always grounded, so I guess you could say in my free time I was always writing music and trying to perform it on the low. I was on my sad s**t. Every week, I used to perform for my grandma in the garage.

When did a wider audience start really connecting with your music?
2016, 2017. When I was making mixes and DJing, people just weren’t f**king with me. People were just being haters! You know, talking down on a woman. But once I started rapping or singing, they can’t really talk s**t about me. Because my work is actually good. You know, n****s can talk about my DJing skills or whatever, but they can’t really talk about my music. Because they can’t do it. 

So you actually experienced more of that discrimination of being a young woman as a DJ than a mucisian. 
Hell yeah! Hell yeah. They try to call you a groupie or a slut—not what you need to be called. They don’t call you a DJ. And they don’t even be trying to pay you.

People were just being haters! You know, talking down on a woman. But once I started rapping or singing, they can’t really talk s**t about me.

When did you feel like that started getting better?
Since I’ve been working with [my music collective] surf gang, I guess. So in the past 6 months, I’ve been getting more credit. Like, this is a real ass bitch. She’s saying some real ass s**t. This is actually some good content.

When that Pitchfork article came out, everybody was pretty supportive. But now, I would say that everybody’s pretty silent. I’m not really getting any hate or any love. First it was hate. And then it was love. And now it’s kind of like, they just watching. Like, “What’s next? Is she just a one-time whatever?”

Shifting a bit to your music, your style has lo-fi, Soundcloud trap vibes. Did that inspire your sound?
Honestly, if I never heard my music, I wouldn’t even know what sound you were talking about. There is no intention—whatever producer you see on there, it’s random. They sent me a beat, I heard it, and I liked it. I’m not going for any specific sound. I actually f**k with other people’s beats. If I didn’t want to work with others, I could produce all my own music. I could rap only on my beats.

Other people’s beats inspire you.
For sure, I asked my producer Giane, “What were you thinking about when you made this beat?” And if I’m freestyling, I’ll go off that. 

Where else do you draw inspiration?
Honestly, it’s just what’s in my brain and my experiences. All life experiences, no outside inspirations.

Do you have any artists that you look up to? Who have you been listening to right now?
There’s this mode that I enter into [when I’m recording] where I feel like the s**t, where I’ll be like, “Oh, I feel like Carti. I feel like Kanye.” But other than that, not really. I’ve been listening to surf gang ever since I left New York, putting myself onto my crew. Like this dude from Florida, his name’s Vonte. I don’t listen to really anybody else. My SoundCloud likes might be some old songs. Fetty Wap. 

That 2016 influence. That was one of the last great years of music I feel like.
You are not lying! Once Uzi dropped around Thanksgiving—Thanksgiving 2016, everything after that, trash! I was just talking today to someone like, “Where was I when Lil Baby blew up?” I was listening to him on the radio, and I was like, “Who is this?” Someone was like, “Lil Baby.” I had to catch up. You know when Famous Dex got put on? I was not there for that! The last stuff that I personally heard was 2016 stuff. But people started listening to Kodak and Famous Dex, that’s all new to me. 

It's difficult to keep up too, since everything happens so fast.
Because it’s not hitting! Two people that I think are putting their best foot forward is Megan [Thee Stallion] and Da Baby. But it’s because they’re playing all the f**king time.

Is there a music scene out in Richmond?
It’s basically like if you go on SoundCloud and listen to my related tracks, you’ll see GAWD, he produced “EVERWHEREIGO. You’ll see Prince Gravy, Lil Percy. So there are people in the rap underground. Black Kray, he’s from here. There’s a scene that listened to SoundCloud s**t. Then there’s a punk scene where they do hardcore music. And then there’s the indie scene, and those are the people that are throwing the shows every week, house shows. That’s the Richmond music scene—it’s just a bunch of house shows with live bands and people drinking PBR. 

Do you feel like that scene influenced you at all? 
Yes, because they don’t book me here. It didn’t make me make better music, but it made me... I’m not the type to put myself out there and network. Instead of being mad about it, I’m just going to go do shows somewhere else. I’m getting booked everywhere else but here.

It fuels your fire almost.
It does, but subconsciously. At the same time, maybe I don’t want to do any shows in Richmond. Because who am I performing for? A bunch of haters. The last two shows I did in Richmond, I had to leave early to keep it professional. People that aren’t too fond of you will pull up to your events. Not saying that they ruin it, but who I am really performing for if that’s the majority of the people here?

It’s like I’m not even a Richmond artist. My friend has the most Spotify plays in Richmond, and he gets booked a lot to do R&B shows. And they disrespect him. A venue was trying to call him dramatic for bringing color into [the conversation], when that is honestly the only problem in the Richmond music scene right now. The racism. They don’t pay, so I made a comment, “Well did you pay him? If we’re gonna talk about good business, is there any business involved if he’s not getting paid?”

I told my friend once you stop doing free shows, you’ll stop getting the free disrespect. That’s how it is in Richmond. They try to do things for the sake of putting Richmond on, but the support is not there. The energy here is like crabs in a bucket; you gotta step on other people to get up. So me personally, I stay in my house. I stay in my lane. I don’t have to step on anybody, and nobody can step on me if I’m not even in their path.

I told my friend once you stop doing free shows, you’ll stop getting the free disrespect. That’s how it is in Richmond.

Is your family supportive of your career?
Yeah. I live with my grandma and she’s been supportive in terms of just letting me be here and work on my music. My dad supports me in terms of giving me advice and not clowning me, not telling me this content is bad. He gives me constructive advice like, “Maybe you need to go a little harder, put more energy in at your shows.” My mom wants me to set a good example for the young girls. [Laughs] But everyone that’s my family and friends supports me.

What are you excited about coming up next?
I’m looking forward to performing, getting back into the swing of traveling. Flying gives me so much anxiety. Even taking the bus. Me making it to my place calmly, keeping my cool. That’s about it. Just to see 2020, to see how well I handle it. ‘Cause I’m gonna grow from it.

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