Brianna Perry Talks 'Fortune Cookie,' Missy Elliott's Influence & Why She Feels 'Blessed' With Her Career
Since the age of 7, Miami rapper Brianna Perry has immersed herself in the hip-hop world, learning the ropes and putting the time in to become a star. Her journey began with Poe Boy Music Group, which was responsible for a number of major releases including Rick Ross’ Trilla and Flo Rida’s Mail on Sunday. Perry made her debut at 10 years old rapping on “Kandi” off Trina’s 2002 Diamond Princess album, and the feature led to Perry signing with The Goldmind, Inc., Missy Elliott’s record label. After parting ways with Elliott amicably in 2006, Perry gained notoriety with a list of notable mixtapes, such as Princess of Miami and The Graduation.
After her run in the mixtape circuit, Perry signed a deal with Atlantic Records in 2011 but ended up leaving the label three years later. That same year, she nabbed a spot on Oxygen’s Sisterhood of Hip Hop and worked solely with Poe Boy Music Group, continuing a run of mixtapes. To go into the new year, Perry is ready to further leave her mark in the game with her latest studio project, Fortune Cookie.
“Fortune Cookie, I feel like, is raw hip-hop. Just from when you first press play, it’s bars and I’m just coming straight in,” Perry tells Billboard while sipping on a glass of Luc Belaire Rosé; Perry is sponsored by the French sparkling wine company. “I’m talkin about some things on there. Things going on in the real world,” she says at a table in the middle of the Sovereign Brands offices in SoHo. “Real life stuff that you won’t be disappointed with. It’s heat and real rap.”
Through 16 tracks, Perry delivers blunt, gritty rhymes about her come-up, riches and clapping back at the opposition over hard-hitting production by Cheese Beats and Slade Da Monsta. She also stands tall trading verses with the likes of Offset, Blocboy JB, Gunna and more while establishing herself as one of the promising female MCs in hip-hop.
Billboard sat with Brianna Perry to speak more on Fortune Cookie, being a part of a talented wave of artists in Miami, why it’s a disadvantage having nearly 20 years in the game, and what it’s like being part of two important movements in Miami hip-hop.
You’ve been in hip-hop for almost 20 years now. With the years you have under your belt, do you feel that you have an advantage over your peers?
Maybe some people will think that, but to me, it's really a disadvantage. Sometimes, my mind-set is still stuck in that era and in that era, different things matter than what matters right now. In that era, being authentic and staying true to who you are mattered and things were based on other things like your music, how much you're putting in, if you're paying dues, not social media, not hype. I'm not going to lie to you, I struggled with that. That would be my focus like just the music, not worrying about what to post on social media today.
You’ve worked with Missy Elliott and Trina in the past -- two iconic women MCs. What did you learn from them that you applied to not only Fortune Cookie, but your career overall?
Both of those women you mentioned have had really long reigns and a lot of longevity, but what I took away was just how they are with their craft. Like, for example, how particular Missy was and how much she put into her visuals and just not playing with anything. Being a woman in the game, you get to play with not only your vocals, but with your looks and your glam. So I basically applied going hard with everything that I do.
What’s the meaning behind the title Fortune Cookie?
I feel like when people get fortune cookies, we all get a cookie but we all get a different message when we open the fortune cookie. I feel like with this project when people press play, they will all walk away with something different depending on where they are at in their life.
What's the overall message you want people to get from it?
Once they open the album and take it in, I want them just to understand that they can be themselves. Don't get caught into the trends, or the waves or whatever is going on. Just be your own wave, create your own lane and your own vibe.
What did you do differently this time as opposed to your other releases?
With this release, when it came to my creative process, I wasn't too open with just having a bunch of people in the studio giving me their opinions when I was creating. When it came down to picking the track listing and all of that, I kind of just kept everything in-house and I did everything that I wanted to do from the beginning to the very end.
What did you take away from each feature you worked with on this project?
Basically learning how to work with different artists. When you see their work ethic and their sauce and just being from different places, we all bring a different flavor. I just appreciated the sauce that these guys brought to the album as a whole. I can't pick which was my favorite because they're all incredibly talented. The first time I met Gunna was when we worked together at Hit Factory and he was really dope and humble. From the time that we had actually recorded the song to now, he's skyrocketed. So to see all that hard work, grind and hustle makes me happy and proud.
Was there a feature that made you feel you had to really give it your all?
All of them really, but the "Monkey Business" record with Offset bodying the hook like that and that beat being so crazy, I feel like I couldn't play. I still wanted to have fun with it but I had to go in. So with my flow and delivery, I think it was a crazy twist that not a lot of people were expecting.
What was the biggest challenge in making Fortune Cookie?
I was told that I shouldn't put so many records on it and I didn't listen. I felt like I did what I wanted to do and I just put 16 tracks on there. I think choosing which records to put out was difficult. I recorded so much so just track selection.
We're here in the middle of the Belaire offices, and seeing the partnership you have with them, what else do you see with branding?
Shout-out to Belaire, for real. I want to meet as many people as I can. I see a lot for myself. I can tell you not to limit Brianna Perry because there is no limit. God is good and he's the greatest and there's a lot of things coming. I can't even say now just know it's all God's doing. Just follow me on Instagram if you want to keep up with me. I'm doing more work with the posting so I'm getting that up [Laughs]. There's a lot to come.
With you coming out of South Florida, what's it like being a part of the rise in talent that’s been blossoming in the city?
I love it. I love being a part of it. I am Miami. So to be able to put on for my city and have all this attention and love come into the city, it's dope. I think we're all different, but we all represent the crib, you know? I don't know what it is. We have a different kind of hunger and a different kind of swag. I say that like being in other places and going back home I can see the differences.
It's a really inspiring city and it's a beautiful place. It's an extremely beautiful place with a lot of luxury, but there are also places that aren't that pretty and not that nice. But I think we get exposed to the high life. We get to see it but we don't get to touch it. I think that gives us motivation and something to work towards that we want to have one day ourselves. We use whatever we got to get there and we work to get it.
What separates you from the rest of the artists?
I think really just being myself. You know, real boss chick [Laughs]. But just being a real chick though, you know? I think when it comes to music and being a woman, certain records will come out and you know you vibing to it, the beat going, it's hard. But you’re saying words that are not really your life. I represent the real woman, the schoolgirl, the working woman or the girl who has real everyday struggles and real obstacles and things they have to overcome. I think it's just the realism and how I tap into my music.
What was it like being a part of another wave of Miami hip-hop with Slip-N-Slide Records?
Poe Boy Music Group has always been my family and my home. What they were able to achieve was incredible. That's where I would go and record and just be in the wave. From that, Trina found out about me and she called me to be on her Diamond Princess album. I was able to join her on certain shows, the ones I could go to [Laughs]. I got to meet Ted Lucas and being in the videos like "Take It To Da House" and just seeing what that did for Miami you can’t explain it. They've been like family and to be a part of that was amazing.
What’s one word you’d use to describe your career up to this point?
Blessed. I got into the booth for the first time at seven years old and I got opportunities that some can't say they got. Even with the losses that I've taken they all turned into lessons. I'm still here, still in the game, still doing what I love and still learning. I'm meeting new people and getting to touch people through my music. I'm still growing and that's the beauty of being blessed—-I haven't hit a ceiling where I can say I've done everything. There are so many things to do and experience. It's a blessing to be in this for so long and I still have so far to go.