Becky G Talks About TLC Influences, Hot Sauce + Her Desire to Work With Justin Bieber
"I felt like, if I'm going to put this out there, I want everyone to know who Becky G is within this minute-and-a-half."
And that's exactly what the 15-year-old did with her cover of 'Otis,' where she spits rapid-fire lyrics about being true to herself and her fans.
Now the young emcee and singer is signed to Dr. Luke's label, has features on Cody Simpson and Cher Lloyd singles, and a byline on an official Kesha remix. Will.i.am had an "awesome" dream about working with her, which resulted in a collaboration on a 'Hotel Transylvania' single. And she has plans to drop a new single in early 2013, followed by an album later in the year.
Becky G sat down with us to talk a bit about her family and roots, as well as her goals for next year and who she's dying to work with. She also reveals her soft spot for a specific brand of hot sauce and admits she's currently "bumping" TLC at her family's pad.
How old were you when you started writing your own lyrics?
I wrote my first song when I was like 9 or 10 years old. It was a song called 'Stay' and it was about a guy who I had a crush on and he lived in Florida and I didn't want him to leave, so I wrote a song about him staying. And then I kind of tapped into it here and there... but I really started songwriting when I picked up the guitar when I was 12, almost 13 years old, and I taught myself how to play. After that I was writing just for fun.
Did you grow up listening to a lot of hip-hop?
Yeah I did. I grew up listening to a lot of different kinds of music, but rap music was definitely one of them. Like Salt-n-Pepa, Kid 'n Play, Ice Cube, you know, all the OG rappers, Biggie Smalls. So old-school rap did play a big part. My parents were also very young when they had me, so hip-hop was definitely the [type of] music booming in the house.
Do you have any musical family members and did any of them influence you in terms of songwriting or just picking up the guitar?
Well the funny thing is, music was just played around the house. I think besides shower singing, nobody in my family really sings except for my generation... But in my household, I'm the only one who does the songwriting and the performing and stuff. Aside from that, music is such a big part in all of our lives -- like when we have barbecues, music is always playing, when we wake up in the morning, that's how dad gets us going. He plays really really loud music. So yeah, music has always played a really really big part. I think in general it just has inspired me and my family a lot.
Your big breakthrough happened once Dr. Luke heard your 'Otis' cover, which is pretty deep for someone your age. Can you tell us about how that all came about -- your conversation with him and why he wanted to sign you?
Well, starting with the reason why it's so deep in reference to the 'Otis' song... I think the lyrics, yeah they are kind of intense for a 15-year-old. You'd think it'd be a lot more cookie-cutter singing about boys, which I still do, I still sing about boys a lot. But there's another part of me where writing it, I felt like, if I'm going to put this out there, I want everyone to know who Becky G is within this minute-and-a-half... and everything I've been through I just wrote it down and I think that's why it was kind of deep even though I'm 15. I know I still have a lot of my life to go, I'm probably only at three percent right now compared to 100. But within that three percent I feel like I already discovered a lot of who I was and within that time I was [only] 14, not even close to being 15 when I recorded it.
Watch Becky G's 'Otis' Cover
When Luke watched [the video] he told me he was just bananas over it, and so my management got a call from RCA and was like, 'I have somebody who is dying to meet her. We need to have a meeting,' and we were like 'Uh okay cool'-- and this was literally only a week after we posted the music video. So the next day we go in and I meet Luke and he's just like, 'I love your music, whatever you want to do, lets do it. I want to work with you, I want to sign you to my label, lets do this,' and I was like, 'Okay cool!' After [the first] fifteen minutes we talked for a whole hour about food and hot sauce. I love food and I love hot sauce!
What's your favorite kind of hot sauce?
Cholula. I put Cholula on everything! So, that's kind of how it happened, and after we had the food conversation I was like, 'He totally gets me creatively, he gets me and food.' So after that I just knew it was the right decision and went on ahead and I got signed and now I've been working, working, working and it's actually not work to me -- it's fun.
You ended up teaming up with will.i.am on 'Problem (The Monster Remix)' for the 'Hotel Translyvania' soundtrack. What was it like working with him? Were you intimidated by him at all?
Oh yeah. A part of me was kind of like 'Oh my God, is this real? I'm going to have a session with will.i.am, okay this is interesting.' Luke and will were in the same recording studio, in studios next to each other, and Luke was like 'Look at this girl Becky G,' and will was like, 'This girl is dope.' He said that day he went to sleep, woke up the next day and had an awesome dream about us making music. After that he [said], 'That's a sign I need to make music with this girl,' because you don't go to sleep and think, 'Oh I'm going to dream about this tonight,' you know? So he's like, 'You literally imprinted yourself in my brain,' and I just knew we had to work together.
Which female emcees do you look up to right now in the industry?
Well, Nicki [Minaj] is definitely one of them. She's one that's going hard right now and for a long time. But I also look up to past female emcees, like the person that I idolize a lot is Left Eye from TLC. I absolutely love [her], I have been bumping 'Crazy, Sexy, Cool' in my house for the longest time right now. I'm going through a phase where it's just my album and she's one of the emcees that I study a lot. Even when I was younger, I know Left Eye in 'Waterfall' goes, 'Ah, come on.' When I was younger, before I would go into into a rap, I would do, 'Ah come on, come on!' It was just cool, I felt like I had something in common with her.
What made you decide to remix Kesha's (amazing) single 'Die Young'?
That's exactly why I decided to do it. I love Kesha. I mean, ever since 'Tik Tok' and the video (and I was only 13 when it came out), but I was like, 'This girl is sooo dope!' So yeah, I was just a huge fan of the song and I was like, 'I'm in the studio I should just do a remix and write to this,' and I did it. My cousin recorded it and then we posted the video and it's doing pretty awesome.
Listen to Becky G Cover Kesha's 'Die Young'
You co-wrote 'Oath' with Cher Lloyd. What was the inspiration behind that?
Well, actually I was in the studio and I was in a writing session and we were just throwing ideas around and I was like, 'Yo, there hasn't been a duet girl song that's kind of like female empowerment in a way, like two girls getting along, like a best friend anthem, you know?' I [wanted to] dedicate [this song] to my best friends and there were no songs like that and I was like, 'Yo, let's create a best friend anthem. Let's do this!' Then we wrote it and it came out amazing.
Have you ever had a dream or vision about working with someone, kind of like how will.i.am had a dream about working with you?
Justin Bieber is obviously one of them. That would be really, really awesome to do a song or to write a song with him. So, I don't know, I can't really think [right now]. There's so many people, even producer-wise ... so I can't really pinpoint exactly.