Q & A: Empire’s newest star, Bre-Z
If you’re a fan of “Empire,” then plot-twists, cliffhangers and surprises are no stranger to you. Each week, there’s a new element added to the story, whether it’s a new relationship (I really wanted Malcolm and Cookie to stay together), another betrayal or the storylines that mimic what’s going on off-screen, such as the issues of mass incarceration or police brutality. So, when season 2 premiered, we were ready for whatever Lee Daniels threw our way, except for the emergence of a new character that quickly stole the last moments of the show with her raw acting talent and tight freestyle that left everyone wondering: Who is that girl?
Well, that girl’s name is Bre-Z, and although she may be new to most of us, she’s been putting in work for years by working with top artists such as Dr. Dre, The Game and fellow Philly native, Freeway. Not only that, she’s become one of Atlanta’s most well-known celebrity barbers. Keep an eye on Bre-Z, as I’m sure one of her flows will be breezing through your radio soon.
Here’s our Q&A with Bre-Z:
You’ve been cutting hair and rapping for a long time, and both of those are considered to be ‘male-dominated’ industries. How do you deal with the pressures of being a woman in those two areas?
Honestly, I wasn’t phased by anything. I was 100% confident in what I did when it came to my music and when it came to cutting hair. So, for people to say that this is a male-dominated industry on either end, really didn’t faze me at all. And, I feel that when you’re comfortable with what you do, and when you’re 100% confident in what you do — can’t nobody tell you what is what.
So, I just looked at it as, “I’m gonna go in anywhere and do my best.” So, they can call it what they want. I didn’t look at it like that at all.
Who inspired you to get into rapping and cutting hair?
The cutting hair was just in my blood. I come from a family of barbers, from my dad to his father and to his brothers, so you know, it was just already in me. Once I picked up my first pair of clippers, I was on and poppin’. So, I definitely looked up to my family members before me that did it. And once I got into it of course, I looked up to people who had been doing it longer than me, and I just sat back and analyzed how they carried themselves in a business aspect. And as far as music, I got with Freeway back when I was 15, and just being able to watch him and his peers and see the things they do and I saw that people could really make money off of this, and make careers and create a lifestyle for themselves. So when it comes to just being an artist, of course we have our typical Jay-Zs and Beyoncés that everybody looks up to, but I more so just studied how people do business and how they carry themselves, and the way the can do what they do and stay out the way. It wasn’t really one person in particular — you just take a little bit from everybody and make it what you want from there.
How did you develop your style of rapping, and what serves as the inspiration for your songs?
I just use life lessons and everyday situations — just life itself. Hearing other people’s stories and watching what other people go through, it’s just all around the board emotional.
Again, you’re just taking pieces of what you know, what you’ve been through and what you see, and you just put it in the music.
Vocally, it depends on how I feel and how it’s going to come across. If you’re sad, you’re going to cry. If you’re happy, you’re going to laugh. I feel like it’s the same thing with music. So I don’t even really put myself in a box because honestly when I get in a studio, however I’m feeling, that’s how it’s going to come across. If I’m sad or feeling a little low, my tone might get deeper, or if I’m excited, you’re gonna be able to tell.
It seems like the most popular female hip-hop artists today have a very girly look and sound. How do you deal with the expectation that women in hip-hop have to ‘cater’ to a male audience?
Honestly, I don’t even think about that stuff. I look at myself as an exception because I’m coming in the door 100% percent confident, and if I’m not feeling confident, I work on getting myself together so you won’t even know it. I don’t feel like “I have to do this” or “I have to do that” because I’ve never faced those issues. I’ve never had anyone tell me I had to do this or I had to do things a certain way. Of course, everyone has their opinions, but I’m just not one of those people where you can just come and share your opinion, and I’m just gonna up and jump to what you say. So even throughout the music and my artistry, I handle things the way I want them to be done. And, I’m pretty grateful to have that leisure, and it’s very exceptional because in most situations, talent just isn’t enough. So you have someone to “create” something. So I just thank God I’m not in one of those positions, and I can truly be who I am, and I don’t have to fake it.
I’m growing into a woman and I embrace my beauty and my femininity and I’m comfortable with that. The way I look, the way I sound, it’s something I’m 100% comfortable with and nobody made this decision for me.
How did you develop your style? How has that changed over time as you’ve grown as an artist and a woman?
When I was younger, I was wild. I was scraping my knees on the concrete and didn’t care and my hair wasn’t done. But as you get older and you grow — I’m just embracing what’s been given to me. Good looks, nice skin, a nice build… I’m just embracing what I have. I definitely dress to where I’m comfortable, everything is all comfortable to me. The minute I get uncomfortable, the minute the world has a problem. So when I get dressed, I dress the way I feel. If I’m feeling cute one day, I might show some arms. If I’m feeling like a goon, I’m putting on a hoodie and some boots. It just depends on how you feel. I always tell people, “Feel free to be yourself.”
I want you to be who you are because you can never go wrong.
Tell us about your haircut. Have you always had short hair, or was that something you grew into?
I’ve had my hair cut short since I was about 13. I hate hair. I hate hair. Even though my background is in doing hair, I don’t like touching it, I don’t want that stuff on my hands. And people are like, “Dang, you cut hair,” but I don’t care, I don’t like it. I don’t want hair in my face. So even now, I’m experimenting with cute little short haircuts, but it’s cool and I’m getting used to it. I’ve always loved the short hair. I can get up and go. I don’t have to be in the salon every week if I don’t want to.
What are some of your favorite products?
It depends. When my hair is relaxed, I love Mizani. But when it’s more natural, I like Carol’s Daughter products. I’m just a fan of being light and free, I don’t want heavy, greasy stuff. So, I’m really not a huge product person. It’s gotta be more about the conditioner and something to keep it moisturized. I’m not into gel, I hate that stuff.
Want to know more about Bre-Z and listen to some of her music? Visit her website here.