Meet the 20-Year-Old Girl Who Wrote Rihanna’s “BBHMM”
She’s called Bibi Bourelly and she’s cooler than you
Praise be. Rihanna has returned, and R8 could impact anytime soon like a Yokozuna ass drop on the so far expressionless face of Q2's pop landscape.
The first single, "Bitch Better Have My Money", is a triumph. But with Rihanna fronting it and Kanye on executive production, it's easy to forget one lesser known but equally talented name that went into making it the platinum-plated armoured trap tank it so majestically is. Namely, the girl who bloody wrote it.
Before #BBHMM became a Rihanna world premiere, it was a just a 20-year-old girl from Berlin called Bibi; bitchin' about her bad mood over unfinished beats from Roc Nation's Deputy at a local LA studio.
Before you go assuming she, full name: Bibi Bourelly, is just another fresh-faced songwriter in the world of major label hit churning, I should add that this new talent has her own shit going on too. If you want to get privy to this before the world does, you should check her Instagram, which can go from being anything from live snippets of Bibi songs in the making, to melancholic Oasis covers, to just being a who's who of planet Earth's VIPs.
I talked to Bibi about Rihanna, what it's like to have the world's attention and what she's gonna do with it now she's got it.
Hi Bibi! Where are you?
I'm in... [silence] LA. That was hard for me to say for some reason.
Whenever I start talking at the moment, it feels like I'm beginning to say the words "Bitch better…"
Awesome! Well, it's an important line... Cos niggas don't be having yo' money.
How did you write that song?
We were just vibing with Deputy in one of the local studios I record out of. It was back when I was into writing to beats, which I don't do anymore. He played me it, I went in and started saying something like "BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY!", because I was feeling ratchet that day. We got that shit done in three hours, then Dep went home and worked on it some more. It came out the way it did, and people seemed to like it.
It always bends my mind when I hear about massive tracks that were written in less than half a day.
An hour can change your life. I've only been in the industry for a year and a half, so it's even more crazy for me. It's weird, but I just feel lucky. All of this shit happened so fast. I am grateful.
So you were commissioned specifically to write this song for Rihanna?
Hmm, we actually wrote it for fun because we thought lets try to write a song for Rihanna. We had no idea she would actually ever hear it or do it, we just decided. It took us forever to get it to her, and when she did hear it, she thought it was cool. I'm an artist first and foremost you see? The only songwriting projects I've ever had are Rihanna. And, to be honest, she's the only person I really cared about writing for. She liked my songs and the things I was doing, because I love to make music. And she picked them.
Looking at your Instagram, I see you chilling with Kanye, Usher, Pharrell. Even if most of us didn't know who you were it seems like everyone that matters did?
It has been weird having that contrast.
Have you worked with any of those three?
I've worked with Kanye. He heard "BBHMM" and loved it. He was there when we played it for the first time. Then, he brought me out to meet Rihanna and she loved it too.
So what's your story Bibi? I feel like a lot of people are gonna want to know.
My dad is a professional musician. I grew up with bass players from Senegal and Ghana in my kitchen talking about conspiracy theories. I got to tour with my dad at an early age too. So it's in my genes. It's what I do. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to. I always have. I've written songs for sixteen years, and I'm 20. It's my way of communicating.
Am I right in thinking you were actually born in Berlin?
Yeah, I'm German. Berlin is who I am. Berlin is my music, the way I dress, the way I talk. I grew up running around the subways and streets of that city. Tagging, listening to cool music, sitting on the rooftops of abandoned buildings and not going home enough. Then I got in trouble and went to America.
What kind of trouble?
I was about to fail fucking high school, I had to go to summer school, and I didn't graduate on time. I was that kid who was fucking belligerent. I was not ever trying to be there, because I realised at a certain age that I knew myself, better than a lot of other kids my age did. I knew what I loved - in fact, fuck what I loved - I knew what defined me, and that was music. I said fuck school, and I packed my bags in Berlin and moved to LA. I said I was gonna do it, I was gonna do music, and I did it. A year later, I have a Rihanna single.
You can't really argue with those results.
I know how much work I've put into music as a child, and I know how well I know music. So, not working wouldn't even be a rational thought to me. Some people think doing music or art is an unrealistic goal, but for me music is my reality. In my mind, going to college is what's unrealistic, that didn't make sense to me. I knew this would eventually pay off. It's about trusting yourself enough to be yourself.
Am I right in thinking you've also written the song "Higher" for Rihanna's album?
Yeah, that is a really big song, and really dear to me, and she killed it. "Higher" is more like what I would do in my own stuff.
When you started working with her was it hard sometimes to decide what to keep for yourself and what to let go?
Everything happens for a reason. Working with Rihanna has changed my life. The 20 minutes it took me to write "Higher" is actually what changed my life, because, even though we wrote "Bitch Better Have My Money" first, she heard that one first.
How do you feel about the extra attention you're inevitably going to get?
At first, I was scared of the excess attention and what that would bring to me. But I've become more sure of myself, and I understand that in order to achieve great things, you have to sacrifice yourself to some extent. I'm grateful to do what I love. As long as my songs help kids have a better day at school, or a good day at work or whatever.
What else is coming?
People have not seen anything at all yet. I have some new music. Very soon.
People are going to see you as a songwriter until your stuff comes out. Does that bother you?
I'm an artist not a songwriter. Mentally, at heart. I don't write songs to be on a record, I don't write songs to be sold. I do it to pour my heart out, whether I'm in pain or totally happy. You know they say it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of something? I've practiced that, I've done that, and it didn't even feel like 10,000 hours, because I love it. The same way a football player loves to play football. When you're meant to do something, it embodies you. It's the most overwhelming feeling in the world. I don't do anything else other than music. It's a high, it's an addiction, it's psychotic, it's sick, it's an obsession
Word. Thanks Bibi!
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