[INTERVIEW] Babs Bunny Has Come A Long Way Since Da Band, With ‘Queen of the Ring’ & New Music
Babs Bunny Tells Us About Life And Music Since Da Band
Having first caught the attention of the masses as an integral member of MTV’s Making the Band reality show, Babs Bunny, née Lynese Wiley helped spawn the breakout collective, Da Band. The Brooklyn bred femcee, and her band-mates secured a, then, promising recording contract with Sean Combs’ Bad Boy Records with the end result being their gold selling 2003 debut album, Too Hot for TV.
Da Band ultimately dissolved in 2004 leaving Babs Bunny and her five counterparts with a bit of notoriety, and a couple extra dollars, but little else to show for their time. Some of the members would have very public feud with each other, others would bash Diddy, but that wouldn’t keep their names in the spotlight for long. While some of the members signed solo deals, no one was truly able to overcome the curse of Bad Boy.
We caught up with Babs Bunny to talk about her new music, her time with Bad Boy and what she’s been up to the last few years.
Parlé Mag: You’ve come a very long way since first appearing on Making the Band over fourteen years ago, can you catch everyone up to speed as far as what all exactly you’ve been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, over the years?
Babs Bunny: Since the Da Band, I just been working nonstop, whether seen or unseen. Releasing mixtapes, expanding my brand as Babs Bunny and ultimately creating a platform for all females.
…About 3 years ago, I had my first son, which is the most rewarding job in itself.
…Building ‘Queen of the Ring‘ has been my main focus over the last few years. Really helping this brand become worldwide, and allowing female acts, that otherwise would not have been seen, a chance to shine.
Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into your latest single/video “#FYM,” featuring 3D Na’Tee—tell me about the track? How did it actually come to fruition?
Babs Bunny: You know how you have a melody stuck in your head to the point you just coming up with words? Well, “#FYM” was just like that; it just flowed into existence. Immediately after writing, I went straight to the booth. After I laid the record, I knew I wanted to add someone to it. Me and Na’Tee been cool for a while now, we always supported each other as women in this industry, and I thought she would have been a great addition to this strong record. I always thought Na’Tee was dope, and I felt like this record was perfect for two females with bars to really go off!
Parlé Mag: “#FYM” comes courtesy of your forthcoming solo project, slated for release I believe in December, correct?
Babs Bunny: Yes, the album is slated for December; I can’t wait! I really pushed myself to produce a piece of work that I’m proud of. I was really trying to establish a fresh sound for myself, so I spent time working with a lot of DOPE new producers, that I felt fit my style.
Watch The Video For “#FYM” Below:
Parlé Mag: What’s the title of the album and your favorite track on the upcoming project?
Babs Bunny: This album is (the) making up of me and each record expresses my creativity differently, so it’s kind of hard to pick a favorite. I named it Gumbo because I feel all I’ve been through – professionally and personally – has all come together to create this project. It’s a little bit of my pain, a little bit of my happiness, a little bit of party, mixed with a few other things. All coming together to create a masterpiece without being too much of the one or the other.
Parlé Mag: Reflecting, when did you first become interested in music? And, how did it all begin for Babs Bunny?
Babs Bunny: I became interested in music at the age of 14. I grew up on the same block as the group M.O.P., and watching them come from where I came from and become stars influenced me big time. I saw M.O.P. like, “if they can do it, then so could I!” Shortly after I started to put my rhymes to music, before I knew it I making waves in the neighborhood.
Parlé Mag: Now you’re a Brooklyn native, so growing up in the ‘City Of Rocks,’ who all did/do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Babs Bunny: Brooklyn ALL DAY! My strongest influences were, of course, all Brooklyn legends:
- Foxy Brown
- Lil’ Kim
- Biggie Smalls
Parlé Mag: How then would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?
Babs Bunny: I would describe it as edgy, realistic, soulful and relatable Hip Hop. My style has always been different from other females, because of my content choice and how I relay the message.
Parlé Mag: Where does your moniker originally derive from? It obviously pays homage to the Looney Tunes character of the same name.
Babs Bunny: When I was in junior high, a friend of mine told me I acted just like the Looney Tune character, and before I knew it, her and everyone I knew started calling me “Babs Bunny.”
Parlé Mag: What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
Babs Bunny: I offer music of content, and storylines that I feel are relatable to our inner cities, as well as those on the outskirts. It’s hard for a female to be well rounded in that aspect, because of what this industry demands…but I try my best to give you that club record, and that record with some substance.
Parlé Mag: What are some of the biggest problems you’ve encountered in getting to this point in your career?
Babs Bunny: Tuh! I’ve encountered many issues, from being a female rap artist in a male dominated industry to being a former reality TV star who exposed her personal life before she was ready, but I truly appreciate my team and the way I was brought into the game, because it aided as mental strength to getting to this point. I, like all artists, have struggled but never stopped, because I believe that what is meant to be, will be.
Parlé Mag: What do you want people to get from your music?
Babs Bunny: I want people to feel inspired from my music. I want someone to put my song on at work and allow it to motivate them to push past all obstacles. My career was full of hurdles, and I want my fans to know that hard-work pays off so I try to infuse that into my music.
Parlé Mag: If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Babs Bunny: It would be Beyoncé for sure, so the world could see my dance skills hits Milly Rock! Beyoncé‘s whole feminist movement is something that I relate to a lot, with running an all-female platform. I think that collaboration would be dope, because we represent a similar audience in regards to women’s empowerment and strength. Also, Fabolous is somebody I always wanted to collaborate with. I think he’s really a dope artist, extremely creative and he from Brooklyn! His style and my style I think would mesh really well together on a song.
Parlé Mag: If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Babs Bunny: Summer Jam, regardless of the time that passed, I feel like I didn’t get that opportunity when I was with Da Band. That’s one showcase that I always wanted to be a part of. Summer Jam is the biggest show of the year in my city, and is an important component to Hip-Hop overall, so it’s on my bucket list to bless that stage.
Parlé Mag: One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
Babs Bunny: “#FYM” is a great description of who I am. “Fuck you mean, that I ain’t mean, like I ain’t light up the scene,” is pretty self-explanatory. I was the person on Da Band that had to fight the most for my spot. I had to fight to make people tune into ‘Queen of the Ring,’ and “#FYM” is that motivational record that represents my attitude through it all. I feel like people doubt or count you out often, and with that record I showed them that counting me out is not an option…I mean, my work speaks for itself. I’m a fighter and “#FYM” is my theme music.
Parlé Mag: What are your future plans and/or goals for sustaining longevity in music?
Babs Bunny: NEVER TRY TO BE SOMETHING I’M NOT! I became who I was by truly being me and representing my life in my music. That longevity comes with consistency and knowing your market, as well as your brand. The audience I represent is there; I just have to give them a voice. The most successful artist caters to their market, and bring fans from other genres in. Jay-Z , Puff Daddy and even Mary J. Blige prove that being true to you is what works.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Babs Bunny: I truly want to run a label and develop artists. Aside from that, I want to start working in the film industry. I recently started working on a documentary surrounding the battle industry, and putting together a movie that I think is going to be BIG! Film is definitely my next move. I have too many ideas to allow music to be my only outlet.
Parlé Mag: You’re a big part of in this ‘Queen of the Ring’ competition, what can you tell me about your involvement and how did it get started?
Babs Bunny: I am actually part owner and host of ‘Queen of the Ring.’ This entertainment platform, formed almost 7 years ago, as a spin off from its male counterpart, ‘King of the Ring,’ literally as a way to allow some of our local female talent to shine and before we knew it, it was girls coming from all over. ‘Queen of the Ring’ created a home for female battle rap when there wasn’t one, developed artists, and also shed light on talented artists who now have a chance at breaking into the music industry because of the exposure. Female battling was frowned upon for so long, that it took for a movement like this to really show that as a unit, women are unstoppable. Being a part of something like this was big for me, because I always felt women never got their just due in this industry, and this was my attempt to fix that.
Parlé Mag: Are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop? And, even more specifically, women in rap, or the lack thereof?
Babs Bunny: I’m happy with the state of Hip-Hop actually, it’s growing and taking risks. But the issue with female representation has been something consistent from the start of this art form. I always felt it should be able to be more than 1 or 2 females out at the same time. But most industries leave women at a lesser advantage to their male counterparts. There are so many women of Hip-Hop, but there definitely should be more. ‘Queen of the Ring’ is our chance to balance the scales of this entertainment industry.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment, at least thus far anyway?
Babs Bunny: The biggest moment in my career was when me and my band members had the #2 debut album in the country. It really meant a lot to me for my fans to physically go out to cop a copy of my art. These days things are so accessible, so to know that my fans at that time were on-line, hitting the pavement just to grab a copy of my album, definitely always makes me feel good.
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
Babs Bunny: I see myself running a label and directing/writing movies. I love breaking new artists and developing talent, so regardless of what I do, I’m always going to support the females and help them blossom.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for you?
Babs Bunny: Releasing this album; it’s long overdue and I’m really excited! My fans have waited for this project, and I made sure that it’s everything they want from me and more. Also, directing a documentary and working on a TV show based around ‘Queen of the Ring.’ I have a ‘Queen of the Ring’ event coming up as well this coming January. Babs will always be working on or off the cam.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, do you still keep up with any of your friends/former group-mates; Sara Stokes, Dylan Dilinjah, Chopper, E. Ness and/or Freddy P? What about your former boss, Puff Daddy?
Babs Bunny: I haven’t spoken to Puff in a while, but I do hope to run into him soon. I would love for him to come out to one of my ‘Queen of the Ring’ events and see how I’m running thangs.
I speak to my former band-mates often; everybody is working and making it happen. Sara and (I) actually released a song together while she was shooting her reality show, called “Sneak Peek“. Although we don’t see each other often, I speak to all of ’em whenever I get the chance.
Parlé Mag: Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?
Babs Bunny: Coming off of reality TV years ago, and to still be relevant today is something that means a lot to me. I’ve had adults who used to watch the show and kids who watch ‘Queen of the Ring,’ show me so much love. I’ve dedicated much of my career to creating a platform where women could win, and it feels good to know that that’s being appreciated. I consider myself to be one of the most selfless artists in this industry, don’t know many artists who would have did what I’ve done.
Parlé Mag: Any “parting” message(s) for our readers?
Babs Bunny: For all the people who been following me, thank you so much for the support! And, those who need the updates on what’s going on with the ‘1st Lady of The Street,’ hit that Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud; @BrooklynBabs. I’m out here working, album coming real soon, new single “Can we Talk?” coming to ya ASAP. Check out www.QueenoftheRing.tv and, last but far from not the least, #GiveItUpForTheLadies!!
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