BKtherula has never fit into one mold as an artist. Styled in dark, striking looks laced up with one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, bandanas, and combat boots, BK has cultivated a devoted fanbase with her inventive aesthetic and headbanging live shows. Born Brooklyn Rodrigues, she emerges on every beat as a supercharged version of herself: the young Black superhero character “the rula,” commanding the freestyle elements of cloud rap and the grit of punk rock to create a sound that is entirely her own.
Two weeks before her 20th birthday, Noisey spent 6 hours in the Atlanta rapper’s orbit before her set at Rolling Loud Miami, where she performed among a lineup of some of the biggest names in rap, including Kendrick Lamar and Future.
“BKtherula is a vessel without fear,” she told Noisey. Sitting outside her Airbnb in Hollywood, Florida, before the festival, she was surrounded by a grand piano, essential oils, and Victorian gothic decor—the elegant and spooky backdrop fit her personality well. BK is completely centered, open, and mindful, yet simultaneously able to completely leave her mind onstage and on a beat.
Before the show, she prepared her setlist with her DJ Hu Dat, and the two conjured up utter chaos for the Rolling Loud crowd. “I give the fans all my energy,” BK said. “If you don’t have a connection with your fans, you’re gonna fall.” The magnetic field surrounding BK is rooted in real connection and the love was palpable in the room as she prepared for her set. Her dad was by her side throughout the day, her bodyguard is a friend who’s known her since childhood, and she smiled when she reflected on her upbringing in Atlanta. “Just having experiences and growing up in Atlanta definitely made my music way more unorthodox,” she said.
“BKtherula is a vessel without fear.”
As a writer, she has a dark and theatrical sense of humor, and the sounds of the beats she appears on are equally abstract—it makes for an expansive emotional range that places BK alongside artists like BbyAfricka, Hook, Coi Leray, and Rico Nasty, with whom she collaborated on “Vaderz” earlier this year. From her 2020 mixtapes Nirvana and Love Santanna to her 2021 album LOVE BLACK, BK drifts easily from harder intensity (“SANTANNY”) to the smooth melodies of dreamy alternative tracks like “IDK WHAT TO TELL YOU,” never straying too far from the inner chill and contentment of her spirit. “As the years go on, we just evolve, evolve, evolve,” she said. “Meaning: I’m going to relay the message way better, frequency is way higher, music will just evolve.”
While rushing in unrelenting Miami traffic, with less than 10 minutes to make it for her set, BK took a deep breath and asked, “God, what are you trying to tell me right now?” Once she made it to Rolling Loud, just two minutes late, she hit the stage with explosive commitment and precision, rapping with her fans in the Miami sun. “If it wasn’t meant for me to do this, I wouldn’t have made that set,” she said.
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