"Nothing for algorithms": Bbymutha is reclaiming her musical agency - Features - Mixmag

"Nothing for algorithms": Bbymutha is reclaiming her musical agency

Finding the "game" of being a musician frustrating, bbymutha just wants her music to be fun and connect people. Her new dance music-influenced album 'sleep paralysis' embodies this approach

  • Words: Arielle Lana LeJarde | Photography: Chris Campbell
  • 7 May 2024

Bbymutha is knitting a pair of colourful pants in her cozy Atlanta home when she enters the Zoom call on a quiet Thursday afternoon. She's going to wear the outfit that night to go bowling with her partner, Fly Anakin, and his friends who are visiting from out of town. She tells me she's bad at bowling, but that's clearly not going to stop her from being the best-dressed person in the building.

Born Brittnee Moore, the Chattanooga-born rapper went through several aliases—heads might know her as Cindyy Kush or Miss Cherry Cocaine—before landing on bbymutha. She was raised by her estranged hyper-religious mom ("We went through some weird shit in the name of Jesus," she jokes.) who, to this day, doesn't completely understand her artistry. Still, bbymutha paved her own path to what motherhood would mean to her. As a parent to two pairs of twins, she also fights "baby mama" as a derogatory term through the moniker.

Known for being outspoken, bbymutha chooses to be more guarded from the public these days (her Twitter account is locked now that Elon revoked everyone's verification), but on our call, she's still as candid and open as ever about what she's been through the last several years. And despite setbacks, she always seems to bounce back. She laughs as she retells the story about how she blacked out after her On The Radar freestyle on Valentine's Day earlier this year. After drinking in the morning on an empty stomach with Fly Anakin and his friends, she gets to the New York City studio only to take a few more shots.

"I get so nervous," she recalls. "So I keep drinking because usually when I drink it makes the nerves go away, but I hadn't eaten anything. So what usually would have taken my nerves away just took it overboard. I don't even remember doing the performance. I don't remember nothing." She later wakes up in a bathtub, in a completely flooded bathroom, with paramedics hovering over her. She still makes it to her show in Brooklyn that night.

Read this next: Why dance music culture needs to pay more respect to MCs

Art comes first for bbymutha, but she also doesn't take herself too seriously. In 2020, after years of putting out well-received EPs and mixtape, she released her debut album, ‘Muthaland’. At the time, she said it would be her last. "I never stopped making music," she clarifies. "The issue was I was frustrated with trying to play this game of being a musician—you got to be so calculated and you got to think too much. You can never just drop shit because you feel like it. It's always got to be a schedule."

She continues: "As an independent artist with no team, that's extremely hard to do and extremely hard for me, personally, to give a fuck about. Because that's not what I do. I don't do nothing for algorithms. I just be trying to have fun and make my music connect with my people. It just got really overwhelming."

Now four years later, her second studio album, ‘sleep paralysis’, embodies that approach. During the pandemic, bbymutha was left homeless due to a mold problem in the house she was living in. Her dad, who acted as a quasi-landlord, didn't do anything to help. To make matters worse, she was also grieving a friend's death and lost her apothecary shop. "The pandemic really fucked my life up," she says.

Bbymutha felt she had no choice but to tour and make an album for money. But in the end, her 2021 European tour pushed her in ways she never expected. "As much as I wanted to be sad and depressed about the shit that was going on back home, I had to go out there and kill them shows everyday," she explains. "I had to push it in the back of my head and actually have fun and enjoy the shit I was seeing in the places I was going. Like, I went to fucking Greece."

Reinvigorated by the new experiences, bbymutha completed ‘sleep paralysis’. It's a powerful 11-track record in which the rapper reclaims her agency in the music industry ("I do whatever I want / Shit on these bitches / I'm taking a dump / I'm bbymutha / The one with the lump," she raps in the opener, ‘gun kontrol’) with a fresh new sound. Still honouring her Southern rap roots, the album also scatters dance music influence throughout its production. ‘piss!’ features gritty, saw-like synths built to a wobbly drum ‘n’ bass rhythm, directly followed by the frenzied deconstructed club-injected ‘head x shoulders’. Before getting to the album's trap-centric second half, we get a jungle drum pattern in ‘tony hawk’ that's reminiscent of the percussion-heavy music found on the soundtrack of the pro skater's games. But bbymutha is no stranger to the electronic music community: Björk's been known to drop her tunes in DJ sets, and last year Overmono sampled her 2018 track 'Sleeping with the Enemy' featuring Kindora on the title-track of their debut album. It's clear her eclectic taste and dynamic storytelling reaches audiences everywhere.

Like ‘Muthaland’, bbymutha's full-length follow-up boasts braggadocious bars of self-empowerment and oozes with graphic depictions of the sloppiest sex imaginable. But in ‘sleep paralysis’, she's more self-assured than ever. Both records toy with the theme of reclamation. Her debut (similar to her name) redefines what it means to be a "baby mama." Her sophomore's title comes from the ailment she's battled her whole life—a state of being conscious but unable to speak or move, usually while falling asleep or upon waking up.

Read this next: Spiders on the ceiling: What is sleep paralysis and how can you avoid it?

"I remember having it for the first time when I was six or seven," she remembers. "My mom could paint and draw really well, so she thought it would be a good idea to draw Disney princesses on my wall. It was really cute and a good idea, but I went to sleep one night and woke up at four o'clock in the morning. I couldn't fucking move and I'm looking at the Disney princesses on the wall and they're cussing me out. It was terrifying."

There's no known treatment for the sleep disorder, but that doesn't stop her from obsessing over R.L. Stine's Goosebumps and constantly watching scary movies. For bbymutha, watching horror films is a way to create a controlled environment for her anxiety.

On April 19, bbymutha released 'sleep paralysis' and launched the album's tour in New York City, giving her a second shot at redemption after the Valentine's Day blackout. Her cult fanbase stuck with her too, hanging onto her every word on opening night. She showed her love for them back too, selling hand-knitted hats and bringing people on stage to rap along. And although her recent European tour had such a positive impact on her outlook on music, bbymutha divulges she much prefers the U.S. tour dates. "I don't like being so far from home."

‘sleep paralysis’ is out now via True Panther, check it here

Arielle Lana LeJarde is a freelance writer, follow her on Twitter

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