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New & Next: Meet Miami Femcee, Brianna Perry

The 21-year-old rapper talks about her new mixtape, Symphony Number 9, and putting education first.

ESSENCE.com’s “New and Next” column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet Miami-bred female emcee Brianna Perry.

The 21-year-old Florida native has been making waves in the hip-hop community since the tender age of nine. Although she may be new to most audiences, Perry has a lengthy history in the business and has been groomed under some of the most influential female hip-hop artists like Trina and Missy Elliot. With a bevy of mixtapes and guest appearances under her belt, Perry is gearing up to release her official debut album later this year.

ESSENCE.com: Tell us about who you are as an artist.
BRIANNA PERRY: I was born and raised in Miami, Florida and music has been my life. I got in the booth for the first time at age seven. After school I was supposed to be doing my homework and I was watching the other artists—the Trick Daddys, the Trinas, the Rick Ross’, the Flo Ridas—in the studio. I was on my first album at age nine, Trina’s Diamond Princess album, and we did the track “Candy.” We remade New Edition’s “Candy Girl” so that was exciting. She took me to BET’s Rap City: The Basement and I made Best of the Booth and that was incredible. They talked about it in XXL magazine and Missy Elliott took notice and I got signed to her label. Missy’s essence, how she prepares for her concerts, her creative energy—just being able to watch someone who’s a musical icon and legacy was an incredible learning experience for me. I Just kept dishing out my mixtapes, kept grinding and I signed to Atlantic Records. I dropped the “Marilyn Monroe” single and things have just been going.

ESSENCE.com: How did you discover that you could rap?
PERRY: I always loved music. I would try to imitate what I heard on the radio. I was always a huge Eve fan, a big Missy fan and my mom used to have all these CDs and she was also a big TLC fan and a big Destiny’s Child fan. I’d try to perform the stuff like karaoke style. I went to creative performing arts summer camps and I was in poetry contests. My mom used to write poetry, so she started working on that with me. I just kept writing poems and being in the studio watching artists constructing their 16s and putting together their records.

ESSENCE.com: Outside of music, you’re a normal college student at the University of Miami. What are you studying?
PERRY: Business. [The University of Miami] was always my dream school ever since I visited the campus when I was about eight years old. I wanted to be a Miami Hurricane so bad and I always performed well in school. My parents backed me 100%. Just having that security—it’s so important. My mom taught me about mastery—getting a degree and balancing it out with music. I think it’s helping to mold me as a person and I knew it was something I could do.

ESSENCE.com: Tells us about your latest mixtape Symphony Number 9: The B Collection.
PERRY: Yes, Symphony Number 9: The B Collection! I was so excited about the release. I worked super hard on that project and it was like taking off the baby face and people seeing that I’m coming of age. I’m not the same little girl that’s nine years old rapping about candy. In Symphony I am really able to stamp that. I worked with some incredibly dope artists and you just see in the music I’m taking it to the next level. There’s so much diversity on all the tracks and I just had a lot of fun with that project. I’m getting ready to put out these visuals and I’m just excited about the project.

Symphony Number 9: The B Collection is available for a free download.

Check out the official video for “9” off Perry’s Symphony Number 9: The B Collection.