Hip-hop artist Sophiegrophy likes to follow her own rules. In her music, she does just that. Hailing from Nigeria, she grew up in New Zealand and is currently based in Australia, so she has definitely followed her own unique path. Her versatility is reflected in her new EP, BOLD, which premiered this May. Fans of Bazzi, Glass Animals, and Cardi B will vibe with her EP (I said she was versatile!), which makes the perfect carefree soundtrack for hanging by the pool or cruising around town.
On Sophiegrophy’s six-song EP, each song represents a different genre and music style. Her first single, “Shake,” is all about “loosening, turning up, because sometimes life can be so serious that we forget to have fun. Even if it’s by yourself, even if it’s with your friends, as long as you’re turning up that’s all that matters.” Now that’s a mantra we can all get behind, am I right? “Shake” has already been featured on radio personality Ebro’s show on Beats, and Sophiegrophy can also be found on the future-forward tracks “My Own Thang” by Walker and Royce and “Bounce Back” by J. Worra & Codes, as well as Spotify’s “Starting Point” and “A1 Live” playlists.
On her EP, Sophiegrophy showcases her dedication to doing her own thing as she mixes hip-hop and R&B with a splash of electronic beats. She opened up to Betches about how she stays confident and ~bold~, telling us “Our decisions must be executed with confidence and we must always have faith in ourselves while not giving energy to the naysayers” (full interview below).
We chatted with Sophiegrophy about her diverse background, musical influences, mental health, and more below.
How does your Nigerian background & growing up in New Zealand influence your music and style?
My Nigerian background influences my music by allowing me into a world full of culture where music is the driving force for jubilance, dance, and unity. This background has really helped me with exploring afro beats, which are a part of my “BOLD” EP, and were really something that came naturally when I was writing. As a Nigerian we have a saying that “Naija no dey carry last,” which means we are always in the frontline. My style represents my background because I dress to be comfortable even if it means doing the most, and as a Nigerian we are known to go far and beyond when it comes to style because we love to look good and we love to stand out. I spent my late childhood and teenage years in New Zealand, where I discovered my identity and my sense of belonging that have made me the person I am today. All that I have discovered and learnt during my developmental stages has really helped me with writing and telling my story. New Zealand was where I realised I was different due to many bullying experiences I encountered, and it didn’t change me for the worse nor did it make me change who I was.
Who are some of your musical influences?
My musical influences are Lucky Dube & Jon Bellion.
Who are some of your inspirations right now? (Musical and otherwise)
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She inspires me to strive to be my best and to keep persevering. Everything she has encountered in her life gives me motivation to keep working hard, because she is where she is today because she never gave up and never stopped trying. No matter how hard it got, she made sure she finished what she started and she never left things halfway. This has motivated me a lot, because life is a roller coaster and there are going to be a lot of good and bad days. We tend to only appreciate the good days and give up when the bad days knock on our door. Every negative thing is a catalyst for something positive.
What’s keeping you upbeat right now?
Music and writing. I’ve been spending a lot of late nights with music, exploring what my next song or EP would be. Music brings a lot of happiness out of me and that’s really what’s kept me upbeat.
What’s your go-to pump-up song/album?
My go-to pump-up song and album would be “PMW” by A$AP Rocky/SchoolboyQ and Fan of a Fan by Chris Brown & Tyga. These choices are songs that bring back a lot of wonderful nostalgia of a night out with friends.
Your EP is called “BOLD.” Can you tell us why?
My EP BOLD signifies standing out and being as vibrant as possible. Each song on my EP is distinctively different because they each represent different genres and styles. I wanted to showcase my diversity when it comes to music—I don’t discriminate and I don’t like to place myself in a box. I love expanding myself as an artist and pushing the boundaries. I don’t want to do something because that’s what the majority are doing, I want to do things because I want to do it, even if it means being the odd one out.
What’s your advice to other women to be bold?
My advice to other women to be bold is to remember that as women we are dimes. Our aura is naturally bold, but to really exude it we must walk with confidence in ourselves. Our decisions must be executed with confidence and we must always have faith in ourselves while not giving energy to the naysayers.
Who would be your dream collab?
My dream collaboration would be Jon Bellion—he is absolutely amazing—or Skepta.
What are you up to in quarantine?
The first time we went into lockdown, I loved it because I had a lot of time to get things done, such as doing more writing, listening to old songs, and loving my space, so it was really a tranquil time for me. Now that we are back in lockdown once again for another six weeks, I really miss performing, being on a stage, and meeting different people along the way. So to keep myself busy, I’ve been trying to learn Spanish online which is a nice challenge, and I also have some videos coming up which is very exciting.
What are your goals, musically and otherwise?
One of my goals musically is to become very successful in my music while staying true to who I am, in regard to my style and personality. I really want to use my platform to start a mental health foundation that helps not only up-and-coming artists, but also young adults who are dealing with mental disorders but aren’t seeking help because of the stigma or because they are struggling to cope. I also want to help the young kids and families in Nigeria who are homeless and struggling to meet their daily needs. There’s so much I want to do, and that’s why I need to keep working hard.
Right off the heels of Selena Gomez releasing a song about Justin Bieber (okay, so like, a few weeks), it seems like another member of the Justin/Selena/Hailey/Bella/Weeknd/Selena/wait-where-am-I love triangle is releasing a breakup anthem of their own. According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, The Weeknd registered a song titled “Like Selena”. E! News initially found this out, and honestly, these people need an award because I didn’t even know the ASCAP was a thing, and I worked in the music industry for over two years after I graduated college. Okay, so maybe this is more of a personal problem. In any case, this was a great find.
So, it seems like Abel is back on his bullsh*t, because literally, what else could a song called “Like Selena” be about? Adding fuel to the fire are his recent Instagram story and post. Yesterday, he put up an extremely blurry photo with the caption “the fall starts tomorrow night”, which nobody has really bothered to explain why or how this points to a definite Selena diss track, but probably is loosely related to the fact that The Weeknd has a song called “The Fall”, a song called “King of the Fall”, and his 2014 tour bore the same name. Safe to say, this dude is really clumsy!
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The Weeknd also posted the same picture to his stories, captioning it, “tomorrow night we start again.” We hear ya, Abel. It is going down tonight! We will keep our ears to the ground and Spotify memberships ready.
If the song really is about Gomez, it wouldn’t be the first time The Weeknd has talked about their relationship. His 2018 album My Dear Melancholy included what people think are clear references to Selena, with lyrics like “We found each other/I helped you out of a broken place/You gave me comfort/But falling for you was my mistake” (perhaps referencing how Selena and The Weeknd dated post-breakup with Justin Bieber and while Selena needed a kidney transplant); “Ooh, when no one know what love is/And I know it ain’t you for sure/You’d rather something toxic/So, I poison myself again, again/’Til I feel nothing” (probably alluding to her desire to get back with Bieber even though he objectively sucks for her); and my personal favorite, “I said I didn’t feel nothing, baby, but I lied/I almost cut a piece of myself for your life” (which seems like it’s saying Abel offered to donate his kidney to Selena… and I can’t even get a guy to commit to plans, smh).
The Weeknd has also used his other ex, Bella Hadid, as lyrical inspiration, singing on the same album, “Wasted times I spent with someone else/She wasn’t even half of you,” which seems like some clear Selena shade/attempted Bella flattery.
All this proves that The Weeknd is definitely not above writing songs about his exes. But will “Like Selena” actually be about Selena Gomez? Call me crazy, but I actually don’t think so. I think that’s too literal. Even in the past when The Weeknd has been clearly singing about his exes, he wasn’t so dense as to title his songs, like, “La Vita è Bella” or whatever the f*ck. So why would he take such a hard left turn and call her out by name, so long after his breakup with Gomez, when those feelings aren’t even as raw as they must have been in 2018?
When I read a song name like “Like Selena”, I think of songs like “White Iverson”, “Bill Gates”, “Moves Like Jagger”—songs that invoke a famous person’s name as a vehicle for boasting or a point of comparison. And when you think about it, I feel like we, the public, don’t know all that much about Selena Gomez to know what behavior would be “like” her. Ya know? Like, short of getting a kidney donated, what could I, the average listener, do that would be “like Selena”? No, I actually think there’s another answer here: the late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who was hugely influential as both a singer, model, actress, and fashion designer. Now that would be a tribute that would warrant using a first name in a song title. And it would also be incredible marketing, to get everyone all psyched for a shady ballad and instead get a homage banger.
Of course, I could easily be wrong, and that would be super embarrassing for me. Let me know if you buy my conspiracy theory or not!
Images: Shutterstock.com; thweekend / Instagram
In July, Taylor Swift caused something of a rift in the music industry and public opinion when she opened up about Scooter Braun’s company buying out Big Machine Records, the old label under which Swift recorded her first six albums. The reason anybody cared was because this meant Braun’s company would now own the masters to Taylor Swift’s first six albums, which affects her ability to earn money off the master recordings. (Like, royalties, basically.) It also means she does not have control over how those recordings are released. That second bit became especially relevant yesterday, when Taylor Swift released a very open statement accusing Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Label Group, of forbidding her from performing her old songs.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
In the statement, she claims that she will be honored with the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards, and wanted to perform a medley of her hits throughout the decade. Makes total sense. But, she alleges, “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.” She continues that, in addition, Netflix had been filming a documentary about her life, but “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
She claimed that Scott Borchetta told Taylor’s team that she would be allowed to use her music only if she agrees to not re-record “copycat versions” of her music next year, and if she stops talking (sh*t) about him and Scooter. In other words, as Taylor ominously puts it in her statement: “be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
This morning, Big Machine Label Group released a statement that straight-up denies each of Swift’s accusations. The statement says, “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.” Which is cool, but (deliberately or not) avoids the issue of did Big Machine say Taylor could not perform certain songs? The question is whether or not she was permitted to perform, it’s whether she was permitted to perform the songs she does not own the masters for.
Furthermore, they also claim, “Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.” This directly contradicts Taylor Swift’s assertions that Scooter Braun et. al. are basically holding her music hostage and preventing her from doing what she wants with it.
But in their statement, Big Machine Label Group takes it one step further and completely throws Taylor under the bus. “The truth is,” it reads, “Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career.” This is attempting to make Taylor look greedy; she is worth an estimated $360 million, and yet she is being accused of screwing over “hardworking” little people. This statement to me is suspect. Taylor Swift has the money—I’m inclined to believe that if she is withholding money and assets (aka songs), she has a good reason for it.
Then, they go on to say that they have tried to come to a solution with Taylor that benefits both parties, and thought they were getting somewhere, until Taylor nuked it yesterday with her statement enlisting her fans to go apesh*t on Braun and Borchetta. They said that in a more fluffed-up PR way, but it’s clear the message they are trying to convey: they are just innocent, hardworking people who are trying to work with Taylor, and she is the one standing in her own way. They claim, “Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.” Which, like, okay. Taylor Swift does have a rabid fanbase, but it’s not like she’s got actual hitters out here. Worst case scenario, I feel like Scooter Braun is going to have a lot of angry teenagers in his mentions and DMs.
But the statement ends with the real knockout punch: “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist.” When I read that, I audibly bellowed out, “oooooh!” with my hand over my mouth like I was at a f*cking rap battle. (My coworkers looked concerned.) This is what we in the business refer to as a callback—in this case, to Taylor Swift’s infamous response to the Kim/Kanye feud of 2016 when, after losing the battle against the Wests in the court of public opinion, Taylor said, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.” I’d bet that this was a very deliberate choice in words, meant to call into question Taylor’s credibility, and remind people that, at least according to the story Kim and Kanye told, which many people believe, Taylor Swift has attempted to manipulate facts to sway public opinion in her favor before.
Frankly, it’s hard to know what to believe when we are receiving two completely contradictory accounts. I always like to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but there doesn’t seem room for much of a middle ground here: you either did forbid someone from performing at the AMAs, or you didn’t. You either blocked their Netflix special, or you didn’t. Maybe I lack imagination, but I don’t see how both scenarios could still hold truth.
Given her history, I have to believe that Taylor is telling the truth. She knows better than anyone what can happen to one’s career when they are perceived to be caught in a lie; to deliberately manufacture a false tale of victimhood would surely blow up in her face, and Taylor and her team would have to know this. If she was not being prohibited from performing at the AMAs and doing a Netflix special, then surely she would just do those things? Aside from news stories and an outpouring of support from people who already support her, Taylor Swift would have nothing to gain by making this up.
So then, it’s my opinion that this statement from Big Machine Label Group is nothing short of a hit job. Forget trying to spin Taylor’s story—they are upending it. They’re denying it ever happened. And by doing so, they’re trying to call her sanity into question. If Taylor’s account is true, then this statement is pure gaslighting—both her, and the public.
Images: taylorswift 13 / Twitter; Getty Images
Welp. Here we are. The day before Taylor Swift’s
over hyped new album will drop. Here’s what we know already: The album will be 15 tracks, with the first track being “…Ready For It?” and the sixth track being “LWYMMD”, presumably because 6 is the devil’s number. (I don’t actually know that is why it is the first track. That is just conjecture. Please do not sue me, Taylor. I know you’re reading this.) The Target edition of the album (lol) also comes with two 72 page magazines full of “poetry, watercolors, paintings, handwritten lyrics, and fashion photography.” So basically, a very sad handwritten book.
So that’s what we know, but there are still many questions. What fresh hell will this new album bring? Who will be roasted? (Everyone.) And who will be spared? (Taylor.) Only time will tell. But knowing Taylor—well, the old Taylor
who is kinda also the new Taylor—there are definitely a few things we know we can expect from the #1 album to ever be featured on the side of a UPS truck.
1. There Will Be Snake References
Well, this one is obvious. Taylor is pretty clearly still pissed about the whole “people calling her a snake” thing and has spent all year trying to “take back” the snake. Question: How long does a person have to try to take something back, before it turns around and takes back her take back? Taylor appears to be trapped in a ouroboros (look it up) of snake-related take backs, with no end in sight, so obviously there will be more snake references. TBH, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the tracks was called “Hiss Hiss”, and was literally just audio of her hissing for 15 minutes. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it hit #1 on the Billboard charts for 10 weeks in a row. It’s still Taylor Swift, after all.
2. Songs About Hiddleston, Calvin Harris, And Joe Alwyn
Again, this is fairly obvious. Swift’s last masterpiece, 1989, came out before any of these relationships occurred, meaning that they are all due for a thorough roasting. Considering how dramatic the Calvin Harris breakup was, and considering his penchant for talking shit about her in the media, I think it’s fair to say that he’ll be one of the main targets of New Taylor’s wrath. Many are already speculating that “Gorgeous” is about her
fake relationship with Hiddleston, whereas Joe may or may not make the cut, depending on how long they’ve been together, when she actually finished the album, and how much she secretly hates him.
3. The Old Taylor Is Actually Still Very Much Alive
Maybe this makes me a conspiracy theorist, but something about the New Taylor’s behavior seems suspiciously similar to the Old Taylor. Personally, I believe that the Old Taylor is really alive, living on an island with Tupac and Aaliyah, waiting for the right time to return to the U.S. as a hologram. Think about it. What I’m trying to say is, Taylor Swift is absolutely back on her bullshit, and this album will probably just be all the same shit we’ve seen from her in the past, with a slightly darker beat and a fuckton of eyeliner.
4. She Will Rap In Some Capacity
Taylor Swift has been
badly dancing around the idea of actually rapping for years. She’s done what all white pop stars who want to rap do and talk-sung her way through several tracks in the past (“Shake It Off”, “We Are Never Getting Back Together”, etc…) but she has never fully attempted rapping. I’m sorry to say, that I think this album will be the album where that happens, at which point a portal to hell will open up in the middle of TriBeca, and we will all surely be damned.
5. Maybe A Drake Collab?
Around this time last year, everybody was talking about
how the fuck Donald Trump became president the fact that Taylor Swift and Drake were hanging out. Were they dating? Were they friends? Were they PROFESSIONAL COLLABORATORS? Many Swifties (also known as “the criminally insane”) are predicting the Swift-Drake collab that only nightmares dreams are made of.
6. More Obvious References To Kim And Kanye
Say it loud for the people in the back: Taylor is still very pissed about the Kim/Kanye thing. And what does a pissed off Taylor Swift do? Write songs. That’s songs plural, meaning that the references to the feud in “LWYMMD” are only the tip of the iceberg. We’ll know when she’s talking about them because it’ll be the first time in history she’s ever mentioned brown eyes in a song.
As we all know, Taylor Swift likes to dabble in some
white light feminism, when the mood suits her. And by “feminism” we of course mean, “having friends who are models and also Lena Dunham,” because that’s usually as far as Taylor likes do go down the feminist rabbit hole. Move over, Gloria Steinem, there’s a new skank icon in town. Now obviously, Taylor isn’t going to release a feminist ballad or anything like that—she has to appeal to her base, who may or may not be white supremacists—but maybe she’ll like, release her own brand of Diva Cups or something?
8. Trump-Style Digs At The Media
If I said to name a very famous person who hates the media and should have better things to do, but instead spends their days responding to petty grievances on Twitter with legal threats, who would come to mind? If you said Donald Trump, you would be correct. If you said Taylor Swift, you would also be correct. See the connection? Considering the fact that this entire album is built around media slander (the album cover is literally clips of the media roasting her and I feel personally victimized that none of my articles made the cut), I feel like we know of at least one very powerful person who will be listening to it on the reg. And no, I’m not talking about Selena Gomez.
9. It Will Go Platinum
I mean, it’s Taylor Swift. She could release literally anything and it would go platinum. Also—and to pause my intense hating for a sec—Taylor Swift is like, good at music. The girl has yet to put out an album sans jams, so I highly doubt this one won’t have at least three tunes that will get stuck your head for all of time. I mean, even “LWYMMD” was catchy. And “Gorgeous” is a certified bop. If there’s one thing to be said about Taylor, it’s that she’s not fucking around.
10. She’ll Take The Opportunity To Apologize For Her Bullshit
Lol JK. If
lawsuits her fans are Taylor’s first love, not taking responsibility for actions is definitely her second.
After deleting her entire social media presence and replacing it with cryptic snake-based messages, it’s pretty safe to say that Taylor Swift is planning something. Something huge. Something…musical. Today, we got the final piece of the T-Swift puzzle when Taylor released the album art for what will be her sixth album, which we now know will be called Reputation. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say the snake emojis bothered her. A lot. And yeah, 2016 was not the best year for
America Taylor Swift. Between the over-saturation and love-turned-fiery-hatred of her “squad,” shade from exes and Katy Perry alike, and the now-infamous (alleged) dragging of Swiz by Kimye on Instagram, one can see why the word “reputation” would be on Taylor’s mind. But the real question is…how do we feel about it? Is this going to be the savage clap back against the haters that Taylor is clearly positioning it to be, or will it be a desperate attempt by the world’s least chill celebrity to try and seem above it all?
Honestly, either scenario is equally likely, so let’s
speculate wildly about an album we haven’t heard yet break down the cases for and against this album.
FOR: Remember “Blank Space”?
The last time Taylor Swift used a song to respond to a negative media image of her, it was the song “Blank Space”, and it was fucking amazing. I remember the first time I heard it. I legit started crying. That’s true. It’s also true that I was balls deep in a breakup with a fuckboy and not 100% sober but still—I cried. If this next drop is anything like “Blank Space”, I think it’s safe to say drunk
white girls will be screaming and hissing along to this tune for the next year and a half.
AGAINST: Remember The “Bad Blood” Video?
Ugh. I still have PTSD from the campaign for this video. The last time Taylor revved up her social media hype machine this much, it was the unfortunate introduction of her “squad” via the “Bad Blood” video, aka “Supermodels With Stupid Names Green Screened In Front Of Fire In A Weird Attempt To Intimidate Katy Perry”. Taylor gathered every model she could find and Mariska Hargitay for what was supposed to be a badass girl power anthem, and turned out to be a bunch of awkward non-actors in leather and Lena Dunham smoking a cigar. If the word “squad” makes your stomach churn, you can trace that feeling back to this fucking video. If Taylor’s latest social campaign is anything like her last, Swifties will ruin the concept of “snakes” so fast Satan will have to re-brand.
^ Anytime I feel underdressed, I think about Lena Dunham in this photo and feel instantly better.
FOR: I Mean, It’s Taylor Swift
Say what you want about Taylor—that she’s a snake (she is), a delusional dater (oh honey yes), and just like kind of annoying (yup), but homegirl has never released a bad album. Never. Red? That shit was jam. Speak Now? Yes please. Literally the entirety of 1989? Iconic. If literally every album Taylor Swift has ever released is any indication, this one will probably be good.
AGAINST: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much
Sorry to get all
Cliff’s Notes Shakespeare on ya, but this all feels a little desperate, doesn’t it? It’s like, the girl who tries to prove she’s over her ex by talking about how over her ex she is every second. At this point, I think the only thing that is 100% clear about this album is that Taylor Swift did not appreciate the snake memes, and would like to be excluded from this narrative, but also wants to control the narrative with an iron fist. Like, is this an album, or a pity party? Also just like, take a shot and get over it girl, you’re still a fucking millionaire.
So there we have it. It’s a draw. This album is either going to be the best fucking drop of 2017 (likely) or a cringe-worthy Pinterest board of cliché comebacks set to a mediocre club beat (**cough* “Swish Swish”**cough**) that will make us miss the days when she was filling our newsfeeds with pictures of her and Cara Delevigne and using white feminism to boost record sales. If there’s one thing the we do know, however, it’s that this new Dark Taylor is definitely coming for Kim Kardashian, and I literally cannot wait to see how Kim responds.
If you feel like you had a rough weekend, this story will 100% make you feel better about your life and choices. Aaron Carter, our first major childhood crush and bonafide has-been, was arrested for a DUI on Saturday night, and it’s not pretty. He was supposed to be doing a concert in Kansas City that night, but his team had tweeted earlier in the day that he wouldn’t make it due to “transportation issues.” We have some questions. First of all, Aaron Carter still does concerts?? Like sorry bro, but we’re not spending our hard-earned/parent-given money on tickets to an Aaron Carter show.
The transportation issues are even more questionable, considering he got arrested in Georgia, which is….fucking far from Kansas City. He and his girlfriend were apparently driving from Florida to North Carolina, neither of which are remotely close to Kansas. His girlfriend was arrested and they were both charged with marijuana possession, but they’ll probably get that to go away. Man, this is just so sad. AC used to be on top of the world, playing little bro to one of the hottest Backstreet Boys and beating Shaq at one-on-one games of basketball. Now look at him:
Can you believe we ever let this man anywhere near Hilary Duff? I can’t. She’s far too precious.
Aaron has struggled publicly with addiction in the past, spending time at the Betty Ford Center a few years back for a drug and alcohol problem. Apparently things aren’t going so hot, considering his mugshot looks like the after photo in a PSA about meth. The road from teen superstar to weird, maybe Trump supporter with a neck tattoo is paved with bad decisions.Aaron turns 30 later this year, but he looks like a 100 year old zombie.