Bebe Rexha's new single secretly says 'F you' to music biz: 'I didn't play the part they wanted'
The pop star previews her new project, ‘All Your Fault: Pt. 2’ and talks about working with Louis Tomlinson
Bebe Rexha calls herself a “pop disruptor,” and you can see why just from looking at her musical output in 2017. Instead of releasing a traditional debut album, she’s introducing herself to the world in installments. All Your Fault: Pt. 1, featuring her hit single “I Got You” and the G-Eazy collaboration “F.F.F.,” arrived in February. This week, she just announced the Aug. 11 release date and pre-order info for All Your Fault: Pt. 2, which contains her latest single, “The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody).”
The six-song set boasts guest spots from rappers like 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane as well as more surprising guests: “Meant to Be” is a duet with Florida Georgia Line. Rexha says the project mimics the feel of listening to her own custom playlists. “I’ll have a classical song, a hip-hop song. I’ll have Calvin Harris, Lil Yachty, and then a Puccini song,” she explains. “It’s all over the place. I thought, ‘I’m going to make [Pt. 2] like that.'”
Below, Rexha tells EW about what to expect from Pt. 2, whether there’ll be a Pt. 3, and the surprising origin story behind her Lil Wayne collab.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the guiding theme of this project? How did you decide which songs to include?
BEBE REXHA: I just put on whatever I think my dopest s— is. It’s really cool, because each record is so different from the others. I guess the overall theme is instead of this bruised [take on the] “All Your Fault” [idea], now I’m stronger. There’s a song called “That’s It” that’s so in-your-face. The verses are just Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz talking s—.
So Pt. 2 is more empowered than Pt. 1.
Yeah. There’s a record called “I Got Time,” and it’s about how I’m going to live my life how I want and love who I want and how I don’t care what anyone says. I have “The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody),” which is an anthem [saying], “Love me for who I am, or don’t — I’m not going to play into whoever you think I should be.” There’s a song called “Comfortable” about when you’re in a relationship and you’re like, “Why don’t you open the door for me? Why don’t you buy me flowers?”
“Comfortable” stood out as one of my favorites when I first listened to the project.
Did you get the version with Kranium on it? I love him so much. I know he’s already successful, but I hope he makes a really big splash in the pop world and on U.S. radio.
You teased the Florida Georgia Line collaboration, “Meant to Be,” earlier this year, but it’s still a surprise to hear from you. What was it like writing country music?
It was fun. I had a bunch of sessions that day, and my manager was like, “I really want you to get in the studio with Florida Georgia Line and write a country song.” I was like, “Uh, okay.” And then I walk into the studio and [FGL] were like, “Ready to write?” I had just done two sessions that day and was not ready to do a third! I didn’t tell them that, but I’m calling my manager frantically like, “Oh hell no, I can’t write right now, my brain is fried.” But we just sat down and started talking, and the song just flowed. We were talking about real-life stuff, how some things are meant to be, some things aren’t. Tyler [Hubbard] was talking about his wife. I loved working with him.
A lot of artists talk about how sometimes the most important song on a project is the one they almost didn’t record or didn’t have time for.
Yeah. It’s funny that you like “Comfortable.” [That song] to me is the most basic one. Not in a terrible way — it’s on my EP. But it’s interesting to hear you say that. Out of all of them, it’s the most throwaway to me. But I could be wrong. I could try to be artsy and overthink it, but it could always be the simple one that you never expect [that does well].
Well, my other favorite is “That’s It.”
I played it for my 14-year-old old cousin the other day. I was like, “Who is your favorite artist right now?” She has blonde hair and blue eyes and told me Gucci Mane. I was like, “Gucci Mane!? You’re 14-years-old and you love Gucci Mane?” I played her the song and her face lit up. She was freaking out. These kids are still listening to Julia Michaels and pop records, but what they’re really listening to is rap and hip-hop: Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Migos, Lil Yachty. That’s the culture right now.
You told me earlier this year that you had a song with Offset from Migos coming on Pt. 2. What happened?
I had him on a song called “Naughty,” but I didn’t put it on.
Are you saving it for the next installment?
I don’t know. I just write tons of music. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I not put the right songs on the EP?” Because there are many good ones. My manager at one point was like, “Let’s just make it an album, we’re cutting too much good stuff.” But I decided to do an EP. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The first one did so well, so I’m just going to put this one out.
Are you still thinking of having the third part be a full-length, compiling the best songs from the first two parts along with some new songs?
Possibly. I just never know what happens. I could put this out and people might die over it, or not.
Where did the idea to split up the releases first come from?
I was talking to my manager, and he was like, “Everything is moving so quick, maybe we shouldn’t put an album out because you’re new to the [music] world.” I thought it was genius, because when I listen to an album on Spotify, I only pick three songs and never listen to the rest of the album. I’m very ADD with it. When I look at my playlists, I’ll have a classical song, a hip-hop song. I’ll have Calvin Harris, Lil Yachty, and then Puccini. It’s all over the place. I thought, “I’m going to make an EP like that.”
The hashtag #TheWayIAre took on an interesting life of its own with your fans the other day.
I felt really s—-y that day. I took a bad picture of myself and posted it like, “This is the way I are, no Photoshop!” Everyone just started sending me these pictures. I was like, “The uglier the better! Let’s get ugly!”
What’s it like watching that song take on this whole body positivity meaning that you didn’t anticipate when you were writing it?
The song was originally about when I first got dropped [by a former record label]. I sat in the studio with [co-writers and producers] Joel Little, Clarence Coffee Jr., and Jonas Jeberg. They were like, “How are you feeling?” I was like, “I’m not happy right now, because I can’t seem to find my sound. The labels don’t seem to understand who I am. I’m not what they think I am.” I was annoyed I wouldn’t be picked up by blogs at the time because I wasn’t cool enough or whatnot. The lyrics were like, “I’m sorry I’m not the most pretty/ I’ll never ever sing like Whitney/ I’m sorry that my lyrics ain’t cool and I’m not what you’re used to.” It was an eff-you to all the people in the music industry that doubted me because I didn’t play the part they wanted.
The song is about living in L.A. and how, no, I’m not going to f—ing go to your parties and do coke with you and try to look however you want. It’s a “f— you” to the entertainment industry. That’s what it’s actually really about.
Do you feel more understood now?
I don’t know. I think so? I can’t tell because I’m so in it. I know I have more followers and more shows, and that’s exciting to me. I just don’t know.
Tell me about your relationship with your fans. I love that they tweet you about unreleased songs like, “This better be on the project!”
They’re amazing. I love them so much. I go on Twitter or Instagram and talk to them, and they make me feel better. They’re so incredible. I listen to what they say. I do. I try to read their comments as much as I can. It’s really important to be open to them.
It’s funny that they give you unsolicited advice about your career: “Make this the next single! Do more promo!”
They’ve been doing that with “Bad Bitch” [a non-single from All Your Fault: Pt. 1 that has performed well on Spotify]. They’re so mad: “Why are you sleeping on this?” I get yelled at! I’m like, “I’m sorry!” They’ll send me pictures with knives. I’m like, “You guys are too much!”
Your fans call themselves Rexhars, but I still think you should have gone with Tyrannosaurus Rexhas. Or T-Rexhas.
I wanted them to be Bebe’s Babies but they chose Rexhars. T-Rexhas? That’s cute. I like that.
Do you ever learn news about your schedule or career from fans on Twitter?
Yeah. They’re like, “Bebe Rexha is performing in Bulgaria on this date,” and I’m like, “I am? I had no idea!” I was having dinner at [New York City restaurant] Il Mulino last night and Instagrammed that I was there. There was a fan waiting outside who was like, “I just really wanted to come see you because I can’t make it on Thursday.” I was like, “What’s Thursday?” He’s like, “Your AOL Build thing.” I go tell my manager: “There’s a fan outside.” My manager is like, “You’ve probably had too much wine, you’re just paranoid.” So I was like, “He just told me about that AOL thing on Thursday?” And [my manager] was like, “We just literally approved that two hours ago. How did he know that?” They’re on it!
Besides All Your Fault: Pt. 2, you also have a collaboration with Louis Tomlinson from One Direction. What can we expect?
He sent me the song, and the first 10 seconds caught my ear. Later I went to take a shower and get ready for the day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it in the shower. I just wanted to listen to it again. I went to my phone, but the link had expired. I was texting my manager like, “You have to send me a new link or email me the mp3, you just need to send it to me.” I ended up cutting my parts and meeting Louis. He was really sweet and kind. One Direction was really big, so I didn’t know what to expect. But he was very nice to everybody around me and my team. No diva. No ego. He seemed really down to earth and centered. Just a normal guy.
What does it sound like? Is it a banger? A ballad? Pop? EDM?
It’s a mid-tempo — I can’t give too much away! But the production is very cool, very fresh.