Interview: Ms. Bee of B.O.S. On Recording With Ginuwine and Being A Female Rapper in the Local Scene

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B.O.S. is a relatively new local hip-hop collective with an impressive repertoire. Rebecca Plasencia (a.k.a. Ms. Bee), Olivier Jean-Joseph (a.k.a. Oli) and Michael Naylor (a.k.a. $leepytime) joined forces as B.O.S. in 2009. In that short time, the group has already performed across the country, opened for national artists, released a mixtape, and recorded several records' worth of material. The group's latest endeavor involves work with labelmate Ginuwine. Ms. Bee sat down with us to discuss the group's ongoing projects, as well as her solo career and experience working with the Bachelor.

B.O.S. is Oli, Ms. Bee and $leepytime - TAKA YANAGIMOTO
  • Taka Yanagimoto
  • B.O.S. is Oli, Ms. Bee and $leepytime

Chrissy Wilmes: How long have you been performing as a group? Ms. Bee: Long story short, we did the All Star Game in 2009. We opened up for Ginuwine -- it was actually Oli who was doing the opening -- and then he asked me to come in and do a couple verses. $leepy was doing the background vocals, and then after that we sort of [thought] we should probably be a group because the show went so well.

I had been doing verses for Oli, he had been doing hooks for me, $leepy had been making beats ... we decided to join forces.

I remember you saying you'd moved to St. Louis kind of recently? Yeah, It was actually about six years ago.

Where were you living before? Were you performing there? Outside of Detroit. Oh yeah. All three of us were solo artists before. So in Detroit there's a lot of open mics and ciphers and battles, so I would partake in that even though I was from outside the city. I'd drive out there pretty much every night of the week.

Has B.O.S. played any shows recently, or do you have any planned soon? We did the Pageant, we did the Gramophone, we've been out of town in Houston, we have something in Wisconsin coming up in May... we've just been trying to do our own things and then perform collectively as a group as well.

So you still perform solo? Yeah. Oli does a lot of weddings, $leepy's doing production all over the place. I'm hoping to get on the Slumfest ticket.

So is that how you met Ginuwine? Through the All Star Game? He signed to our label, it's called Notifi Music Group. So we're all signed under the same label. Oli and $leepy have actually done production and writing for him, on the past album and this new one also. And then I was able to feature on one of his songs with Trina.

What's the name of the track? It's called "Batteries."

Are you working on recording anything right now? Well, we have about three albums recorded, we're sort of shopping for a major to back us before we just give away these songs that are really awesome... they're like pop mixed with R&B mixed with hip-hop, just all over the place... we mix guitars in some of them. It's pretty awesome. We have some interest from some people in Europe, Ireland and the UK as well. We do have a song in iTunes called "Special 2 Me," so we've been pushing that as well as doing shows. *B.O.S. performing at Blueberry Hill

Isn't Notifi a subsidiary of a major label? Yeah sure. It's Warner Music Group. Ginuwine was popular back in the day for "Pony," and then he kind of just took a break and when he came back to music again, Ira Dewitt [president and CEO of Notifi] approached him and was putting together the label and trying to get a major to back it. Johnny Gill is also on the label.

It's cool because it's St. Louis-based, it's really a great label to be a part of. Ira's amazing , she's so nice, and her artists have creative control which is so rare these days.

Is there any talk of a tour with Ginuwine? Not necessarily with Ginuwine. I'm not sure that we have the same fanbase because B.O.S. is very pop compared to G, who's very R&B. We've all done shows with him; however, for us a tour would be more colleges. That's sort of what the Wisconsin show was about. We have some other colleges interested in having us come. It's interesting because as a group who doesn't have a song on the radio, sometimes they want you to do covers. It's just different when the kids don't know you, per se. But anywhere we have done shows they've more than [received us well]. Iowa, LA as well. We were just kind of traveling a lot.

This is all since 2009? Yeah. It's crazy. When we decided to do the group, I think in about two weeks we had over ten songs recorded -- because we're all writers, we're all creative... just every day in the lab. We'd have two songs every day. It's awesome to work with those guys. They're so inspiring. They really brought a lot out of me as an artist, to find myself, try different things. Being from Detroit, it's very battle rap and punchline and who's the best rapper... you know? And they kind of showed me how to find myself and be a girl. [laughs] Because I'm such a tomboy.

How different is your experience in the local hip-hop scene, being a woman? Well, there are pros and cons. When the Hi-Pointe was open, when I first moved here, it was very much like it was in Detroit - there's usually a cipher so you kind of stand in line and wait for the microphone then you get your sixteen bars of fame or whatever... everyone is looking at you crazy as they see you standing in line, like "What is this girl about to do?" And then halfway through the verse they're like -- hands up, and everyone's like "Yes!" You know? And it's funny because I think it kind of is helpful -- maybe I get more attention because they're like "Holy crap, she's actually good!"

At the same time, it's a challenge because you really have to prove yourself because being a woman they're not gonna let you get up there and suck. [Laughs] In Detroit there was this one open mic where they would tap you on the shoulder while you were rapping if you weren't good enough. They'd tap you and let you know you have to get off the stage. I never got the tap. [Laughs] it's definitely challenging, but I think it's inspiring as well to be able to prove yourself and be like "Oh, I can totally run with the boys." I don't think I'm good as a chick, I think I'm just good.

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