Brianna Perry: "Missy [Elliott] Took a Liking To Me"
Brianna Perry was literally raised in hip hop. While most of us were hanging at the playground, the Miami native spent her time after school in the recording studio, getting exposed to artists like Rick Ross, DJ Khaled and Trick Daddy. Bri caught the music bug and by 2002, she was featured on Trina’s “Kandi,” which then led to being signed by artist/producer Missy Elliott.
Brianna pounded the pavement as an indie artist, releasing a slew of mixtapes, and eventually inked a deal with Atlantic Records. But a record deal doesn’t mean overnight success. As Brianna preps for her debut album, the gorgeous beauty struggles to balance life, career and her relationship with momager Kiki, not to mention a rigorous business course load at the University of Miami.
Can she make the grade? Meet Brianna Perry.
You’re the youngest cast member on Sisterhood of Hip Hop, but you’ve been rapping since you were a kid.
I’ve been doing music for a long time. I started music when I was 9 years old and I got in the booth for the first time when I was 7. I’ve been chasing the dream for a long time.
What makes a 7-year-old want to be a rapper?
Just my upbringing. I’m sort of blessed in that way. Everyone at Poe Boy Music Group, the indie that I’m signed to, they’re like my family. After school, that’s where I would go, to the studio [and see] people like Rick Ross, Trina, DJ Khaled.
From there, your career took off and you signed a record deal with Missy. How did that happen?
I did the “Kandi” record with Trina and then she took me to BET’s Rap City: Tha Bassment. I did the freestyle and from there, Missy took a liking to me. She took me under her wing. I was always just inspired. How she prepared for her concerts. I got to watch her work ethic in the studio and how she handled herself as a public figure. She always encouraged me in school. I got all As. I used to get like $1000 for report cards.
You’re now signed to Atlantic Records. A lot of people have the misconception that having a record deal means that your rap career should be easy. Were you surprised?
It hasn’t really started yet for me. I knew it would be like this, because I know people who have been in the game. They think just because you sign on the dotted line, you’re a big star. It takes so much. You get signed and then you have to work a thousand times harder than even before you got signed.
This season, we see you balancing your studies at the University of Miami and your music this season. Why is getting a degree important to you?
I just see it adding value to myself. Why not do it? I always feel like music will work out for me but going to college is helping me. It’ll make me smarter. I’ll handle business [better] and it’ll help me with my branding.
You have a lot of big-name supporters in hip-hop but I hear you have a good Beyonce story.
Last year, I met Beyonce. Before I even met her, she put my “Marilyn Monroe” video on her site. When I met her—I met her and Jay at LIV—and they were down for Art Basel in Miami. We actually sat and talked. She was like, “I love you. Just keep going.” She was telling me I was gonna be a star. Jay told me to never change and just keep at it. It was different. I had met her [earlier] when I was on tour with Flo-Rida. He opened for her. After the show, she shook my hand and was like, “I’m sorry. I’m so sweaty.” I was like, “You don’t have to apologize!” I was still in high school then. I remember telling my best friend and she was like, “Don’t bathe for a week!”
This season, what do you want viewers to see about Brianna?
You can be real and still win the game. Females, a lot of time, feel like they can’t be themselves and be successful. I just want to be myself and show that real still wins.
Is it important for you to be a role model?
Not really. I don’t try to do it intentionally because you wouldn’t want that added pressure. I just hope to positively influence others while being myself.