There are a million ways to be heard in today's social digital world. Everyday there is a new overnight success story going viral. While the possibilities of reaching the masses can seem endless for new artists, it can also be difficult to set yourself apart as an artist with the potential for longevity and to capture the attention of industry veterans.
As Fat Joe's protégé and a Roc Nation artist, Angelica Vila is already building relationships with the industry's most respected. Preparing for a career in music since the age of seven, the Bronx-based R&B singer was discovered through YouTube. Today, through her social media savvy and undeniable talent, Angelica is strategic about making moves that are memorable. The video for her breakout hit "More In The Morning" garnered over a million views in the first week and has currently climbed to 9 million audio streams.
Taking to heart the advice she received from her mentor Fat Joe, "You can never make a first impression twice", Angelica is also learning the art form of business. Recently, we spoke with Angelica to get her advice on what artists can do to stay true to their vision and get their music heard by the right people.
Bet on yourself.
Photo credit: Mark Clennon
"I had to stop doubting myself. When I left high school, and I was working at American Eagle and college didn't work out, I just felt like it was a little bit difficult for me. I remember this was before I got signed with Fat Joe and Roc Nation, I was going to take a job at Skechers. The first day I was supposed to start my shift, was the same day that was Fat Joe's birthday party. He had invited me and my uncle. It was like a yacht party. So I thought, 'Do I take this chance?' Because no deal was ever in conversation or anything. We were just vibing and getting to know each other in a business and a creative aspect as well. So, I just went with my gut and I said listen, I'm going to go to this yacht party." With zero plans of looking back, taking that risk to follow her gut solidified a business partnership between her and Fat Joe.
Use your platform strategically.
"Social media is very important, especially if you want to be heard [and] if you want to get your name out there. Social media helps you gain your fanbase. Whenever I had to make a singing video or if I was in the mood to make a singing video, I would just do it on the spot and post it at the right time. I feel like more towards the nighttime, people really pay attention to my page. Around 8 pm, people are scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, etc." Having this deep understanding of what works is what has garnered and kept eyes on Angelica since she first made waves with a response remix to Justin Beiber's hit "Sorry" in 2016. Knowing how to use her talent to cut through the noise online is what has ultimately set the stage for the millions of people now tuned into the music she releases.
Photo credit: Mark Clennon
"Sometimes you are not going to get it right the first time. But it takes time. I've been doing music for 10 years now. I'm just now starting to get recognized. It really takes time and you have to be patient with yourself."
Patience will get you furthest.
"Believe in yourself and don't let others' opinions cloud your own judgement. Also, if you have a Plan A, don't plan a Plan B. Once you start planning your Plan B, you are already doubting yourself on what your true passion is. If your first way didn't work out to make your Plan A happen, find another way. Really, it is just about consistency and growth. Sometimes you are not going to get it right the first time. But it takes time. I've been doing music for 10 years now. I'm just now starting to get recognized. It really takes time and you have to be patient with yourself."
Stay true to you.
Photo credit: Mark Clennon
"A lot of times what happens is that an artist can have an idea but there are so many people around them that there are just way too many opinions. It just kind of confuses you because you may have a creative idea and then someone else says, 'I think it should go like this.' It can be tricky sometimes, but in order for you to stick to your sound, you shouldn't listen to other people. Also, you can listen to music for inspiration but don't compare yourself. Music is a vibe. As artists, we overthink a lot of what we are making. We think about what is popping now and we try to go for that rather than actually going with what you feel in the moment."
For more of Angelica, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image by Mark Clennon
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If there’s a President Barbie world, run by actress Issa Rae, then I absolutely want to live in it. The Insecure creator has had a fairytail trajectory from shooting her own YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl to becoming thatgirl on the big screen in this summer’s box office smash, Barbie. And while she easily has the most epic glow-up of our generation, the 38-year-old isn’t afraid to speak on the pressure she felt to be “Barbie-ready.”
In a recent interview with Glamour, Issa Rae opened up about her challenges with body image taking a toll on her preparation to play President Barbie following the end of her hit HBO series, Insecure.
“Right before [the role came to me], I was post-Insecure, post–Rap Sh!t, and post-the-final-season-of-Insecure-press-tour,” she recalls to the publication. “I was like, ‘Well, I'm going to let myself go. I'm eating everything.’ And then I got the call to do Barbie and was like, ‘Oh, no, I am not Barbie-shape ready.’”
Thankfully, Rae realized that the reimagined Barbie world that director Greta Gerwig was creating, reflected bodies of all shapes and sizes. “So, while I was still on my fitness journey, I felt less insecure about my Barbie body or lack thereof,” she says.
Rae’s “youthful, fun” and fresh take on the president is one that is inspired by the childhood version that she always envisioned. Growing up, she remembers how her mother and aunties making a point to give her Black Barbies made her “hyperaware” of her Blackness from an early age, which served as a gift in representation that she understood as she came of age.
“In some ways, I was made hyperaware of my Blackness because of how intense my mom and aunt were about, ‘We're giving you Black Barbies,” she shares. “They said, ‘It's important for you to play with dolls that look like you,’ which I didn't really understand. I was like, ‘Okay, more toys, thank you.’”
She continues, “I never played with Christie. I don't think I knew about Christie until later. It was just Barbie with blackface kind of, and it didn't necessarily have Black features. It didn't really mean anything to me until I got older and understood why it was so important for my mom and aunt for me to have this.”
What is expected to be a “self-aware” take on Barbie’s existential experience, the new Barbie movie imitates life in a way that represents the full spectrum of what Barbies of today would look like. With actresses like America Ferrera, Margot Robbie, and Alexandra Shipp all starting in the film, Rae emphasizes that no matter her shade or background there’s a Barbie in this Barbie world for you.
“Everyone in Barbie Land is a perfect Barbie. I found that so beautiful,” she says. “Almost everyone in the world is represented in some way here. That's not an easy piece. I'm sure someone might be like, ‘Where am I?’ But know that there was such an effort made to have Barbie Land be inclusive.”
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