Interview with Cocoa Bella
Age: FOREVER 21 (i know Im trifiling) but I guess u can add 7 years smhhhh
Hometown: harlem, nyc
Location: brooklyn, nyc
Describe your sound as if we were deaf
my sound is a hybrid of NY hip-hop sounds, infused with a bit of reggae and dance-music influence. As far as my rn’b stuff (which you all will get exposed to a lot more as time goes on) I would describe that as an alternative soul type of sound. Defintiely not your typical. Think Kelis meets Lauryn.
What producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
Very inspired by Grace Jones, Foxy Brown, Kelis, Missy Elliot Gwen Stefani and Lady Saw.
Do you have a favorite musical project that you’ve worked on?
WWYDW music video (which will release in a few weeks) was amazing to shoot. I took on the role of star and director. I wrote the treatment and put it all together and I am so proud with all the elements and how it came out. For the first time I will have a dance sequence, which I’m a little nervous about but mostly super-excited about! LOL
What was the main factor for launching your career when you did?
Great question. When I was in college, I started both of my careers (media/music) but music took precedence. After cutting my first demo, I scored a meeting with the A+R at STAR TRAK. After a great meeting over there, I was sure I’d be the next signee of Pharrell, but when they split from Arista my dreams were dashed. I re-focussed on my media career knowing one day I would use that as a platform to re-launch music. I started grinding. Finished my poli-sci/journalism degree at EMORY UNIV, was interning at Don Diva, then began freelancing for several publications including EBONY MAGAZINE and J. RECORDS… I soon launched my own blog/brand COOL CRUEL WORLD.com which took my career MANY places. I began as a one-woman machine and grew into a full brand with a 5-person staff. I was introduced to the world of photography and began to excel in it. I was shooting the hottest concerts and events, shooting in the paparazzi-pit at fashion week, red-carpets galore, began interviewing my idols, and even helping my peers around me come up and get recognition via my blog….. The itch came back really bad in late 2010, and that’s when I decided to re-launch my music career fully again.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
Oh man, I’d loooove to work with Kelis and Pharrell for sure… Die Antwoord would be a dream come true….. Foxy Brown and I would kill a track… I’d love to work with Timbaland and Missy too. There’s many more, but I dont wanna bore y’all.
How is the internet changing your craft?
Its changed for the good but mostly the bad lol. Everything is accessible via the internet which means the number of people attempting to do music has sky-rocketed. That also means true talents often get lost in the mix… People are so used to downloading illegally, no one wants to purchase music any more and the level of appreciation for great music has all but died… The internet gives you so much news and info at lightening speeds that people are often bored after a short period so it creates a culture of very fickle fans– always looking for the next “big thing”. Again, I could get so much deeper on this but I want y’all to stay with me lollll… I think you catch the drift tho. Its awesome because its brought so many worlds together and has made the world a smaller place– but then its bad for all the reasons aformentioned.
Do you feel like what you are doing is important?
I feel like what I’m doing is SO important. Mainly because I feel deep down in my heart and my soul I was chosen for this. There are times in my life when I’ve tried to walk away from this life, but God always calls me back…. Its just like how people are called to serve God and preach the word. I feel the same way about the music. I was called to preach my word to the people through my art. And I’m gonna get er done if its the last thing I do! See, it’s not only what I have to say, but the way in which I will say it…. I think it’s about time that an artist that is not what most see as a “standard of beauty” had a real influential and powerful voice. I definitely dont fall under the American standard or beauty, but i dont think thats a reason for me not to be heard. isy mot be beyonce, but i have a lot to say and prove. And that’s not to take away from B, because I admire her very deeply. It’s more to say that society needs to open it’s eyes to change. There needs to be more diversity, there needs to be more tolerance, there needs to be more equality and overall understanding. There are many young girls who see me and are happy that someone who looks like them is out there representing for them and doing it with integrity, individuality but most importantly with purpose. I am an image they can relate to. i am a talented black american woman with dark skin, thick lips, wide nose…. and im proud of it all. wouldn’t change a thing. It really means something to me when a fan sees me and says “Wow! i admire what ur doing. And that could easily be me. I’m gonna go for it!” Because they see themselves in me… That’s powerful. And beautiful…..
On the other hand…. I’m definitely not what they would describe as a “conscious artist” with my dredlocks and my backpack per se– I definitely get a lil street and a lil ratchet in my lyrics, but that’s real and that’s who I am. When you scratch beneath the surface, you see and hear things that are important and need to be said. I want better for our youth, I want more for my culture and if given the chance I know I will prove that I am that one to do it. My recipie of ratchet x righteous is just what this generation needs to get right. Someone relatable, realistic and fun that can still say something meaningful when necessary. All while breaking the boundaries of the American standard of beauty. I’m ready!!
Can you tell us the significance of the shoot w/ convention mag?
there is a lot of significance. With the styling, we wanted to reflect my cultural dualism. My parents are very successful immigrants from Ghana…. But I was born in Harlem. NYC raised and influenced me greatly, but Ghana has a tremendous influence on me as well. Traveling there as a young girl definitely shaped my world view, my style and even my music. As my music evolves more, you will see more of my African influences. This is just another ingredient that makes my brand so unique and personal. I belong to these two places completely. To understand that is to understand me. My “African inspired” look has mixed African prints and tribal print influences. Like an African violet, beautiful but wild. My “NYC inspired” look is all about vintage and street edge. Spiked shorts, vintage Ralph Lauren and Jimmy Choo boots for some high-end appeal. My life is an eclectic mash-up. As is my music…. Come along for the ride! 😉
Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals or talents you have in mind?
I’m currently planning a trip to Paris this summer to record with a special artist… That will be a dream come true for me. I’ll be doing a series of collaborations with visuals along with them throughout the summer and fall months. I had a mini-tour this past winter, and I’ll be planning one for late Fall. There will be an EP in the works, but that probably won’t drop until 2014. I’m taking my time with it and making sure it’s everything I need it to be. I already have two mixtapes out (TRIPLE THREAT TRAGEDY + T3 : RELOADED) which are online and available for free download. So if you need a CB fix in the meantime, there you have it!