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For an artist whose new album is called “Better Mistakes,” Bebe Rexha sure has made a lot of the right moves in her career.
First having success as a songwriter, co-writing the 2013 Eminem and Rihanna smash “The Monster,” she went on to score her own hits — including 2015’s “Me, Myself & I” (with G-Eazy) and 2017’s “Meant To Be” (with Florida Georgia Line) — and earn a Best New Artist Grammy nomination for her 2018 debut album, “Expectations.”
Now, with her latest album out Friday, the 31-year-old pop diva — an Albanian-American who was born Bleta Rexha in Brooklyn before moving to Staten Island as a child — reveals how she got a a co-sign from Queen, why she shares her mental health struggles and what makes her a “no-bulls–t” New Yorker (even though she lives in Los Angeles).
The title of your album is “Better Mistakes.” So what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
It wasn’t a mistake that I made — it was a mistake that another artist made. My manager had called me and said that Florida Georgia Line was in the studio and that this other artist had canceled on them and that they wanted to write [with me] … So I went into the studio, and we ended up writing “Meant To Be.”
‘I’m a little f–ked up — but so are you. You know, like, we all are.’
Bebe Rexha, on the true story behind her new song ‘Mama’
You collaborate with Rick Ross on your new song “Amore,” which is a hip-hop take on “That’s Amore.” The original is way before your time, so where did that idea come from?
It’s my dad’s favorite song. When I was growing up, that’s all he would play, and he would sing “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie …” And I was like, “How could we flip ‘Amore’ in, like, a cool way and make it more current and fresh?” And so that’s how we did it.
And then your album ends on a very personal note with “Mama.” How did your relationship with your own mother influence that song?
My mom had me when she was really young. She was 17. And I think that when I was growing up, she was growing up with me … And I think with that song, I was like, “Listen, you’ve done the best you could. And I’m a little f–ked up, but so are you. You know, like, we all are.”
I heard a little bit of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in “Mama,” and Freddie Mercury is credited as a co-writer on the song.
I think [co-writer Brian Lee] had that in the back of his head subconsciously. And, of course, after writing the song, we’re like, “OK, we need to make sure this gets cleared.” And once Queen cleared it, we were really happy.
Is there one song that you wish you had written when you listen to it?
I really love “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. I think that’s a great record. And then I also think that “Chandelier” by Sia is a great record. I love those two songs, like, a lot.
This is Mental Health Awareness Month, and you’ve been really open about being bipolar. Why has that been so important for you?
I think that when I was young and going through anxiety and depression and feeling really lonely, I would have loved to hear about one of my favorite celebrities or artists or somebody that I looked up to talking about that, ’cause then I would feel less alone … That’s why I like to be really open with my mental health [issues], and hopefully it helps whoever out there needs it in some way, shape or form.
Growing up in New York, how did the city shape you as an artist?
For me, it was just the energy and the cultural melting pot. One of my next-door neighbors was Puerto Rican; one of them was Italian. I was constantly listening and being introduced to new music from all these different countries and all these different cultures. And [because of] the fact that hip-hop was so big in New York, too, I grew up on a lot of hip-hop … New York City really has shaped me into the person I am today. I’m a no bulls–t person. I say it like it is.
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