#HypeMoments: Money Badoo stepping into her power

In light of the launch of Love & Hip Hop South Africa – a reality show known for showcasing hip-hop stars juggling their careers, relationships and family dynamics – we take a look back at a HYPE Moment when cast member Money Badoo was featured as our very own HYPE cover star.

The rapper and singer showed promise with her infusion of rap, pop and R&B. After releasing her debut album PORN$TAR featuring Maglera Doe BoyLordkez, Sliqe and Yanga Chief, the genre-bending artist cemented her spot as a front-runner of the new wave.

Let’s take a look back at an exclusive interview we had with the sensational starlet as our issue #13 cover star.

Verbalz: Roo

I think it was back in late 2019 or early 2020 when I first caught wind of the existence of Money Badoo (all thanks to ‘All My Friends’), and from that moment, I was sold on the idea of the dynamic and change her presence would bring into our local music scene, specifically within hip hop culture. Look, at this stage, we all should know that there will always be a constant stream of young artists striving to get their piece of the pie by using the music that they create as a means of getting a seat at the table. But, it’s tough, and it’s that purging (tough) process that eventually highlights those who have adopted this artistic journey, not only as a way to change their lives, but who have also adopted the art as a creed.

Money Badoo currently has a seat at the table, but how much of her portion of the pie will be granted is yet to be fully witnessed, because a seat doesn’t necessarily promise you a meal, or at least a full one, especially when you’re aware of all the other hands that have been trying to do the same, and for a longer time than you…

“Yeah, I guess I’m just telling my own story, to be honest. What am I trying to say and what is it about me? I’ve realised that being authentic to who you are is a brand in itself, and that’s the type of brand that I am. And so, I’m just trying to tell my own story, and my story is that I don’t come from much. I have a lot of creativity, and I’m using that to my advantage, literally, to build a legacy for myself, my family and the next generation to come.”

However, regardless of whether you’ve gotten your fair portion or not, the fact that you’ve finally been able to grind enough to be considered a respected player within a game that’s constantly being played, is a good thing. And I think that’s why I respect Money Badoo so much. She’s getting better as time pushes on, eating more and not wasting the opportunities that present themselves to her. And, within hip hop, opportunities that can place you at the forefront are rare, but when they do come, then you’ve got to be ready.

With that said, the past two or three years felt like stages of preparation for Money, in my opinion, because although she’s actively been building up her reputation, one thing that’s always been missing is that “big statement-making moment” or an “artistic crescendo” that every artist needs to create as a means of proclaiming their portion. Pornstar is the name of Money Badoo’s debut album, which she’s worked on for three years, and is one of the main topics this cover story interview focuses on… So, I spent about half an hour talking to Money Badoo about the album, what it will all mean for her, and what we all can expect from it, amongst other things.

I just want to have an organic conversation with you… I was exposed to your music around the year 2019, and since then I’ve been witnessing your story unfold. When you reflect on all your achievements so far and where your path seems to be going, where would you say your head is at when it comes to your work and art?

To be honest, I just feel like I’m just getting started [laughs]. I mean, I’ve had a very intentional plan and it’s worked thus far, and now I’m just ready to spread my wings and fly, dawg… That’s what my plan is, you know? It’s all trial and error, to be honest, but I think where I’m at right now is just… It’s just my time, man, and that’s why I feel like I’ve put a lot of work into my debut project. Almost three years working on it, and that’s a long time for an artist to put anything together. I overcame a lot of pressure, obstacles, and just understood how to move, what moves to make, and I’ve been so grateful to just be accepted by a lot of my peers in the industry who I look up to. So, I think, coming this far and actually understanding the impact is kind of crazy, and I feel like I haven’t even put a foot into it.

Before we talk about the debut album… I like the term you used there – “trial and error”. I’m always intrigued about the identity process artists go through in the beginning. That process of understanding who they are or what their contribution is. Do you have a complete understanding of where you stand?

To be honest, I feel like, as a brand, I might have an idea, but I think as a musician, it’s something that’s always growing, changing and evolving with me. I’ve just learnt to accept that I’m constantly evolving. But I also feel that it has a lot to do with me being very confident, powerful, showing my feminine side, and I think that’s what people gravitate to – how unapologetic I am about anything I do. And I think it’s very convincing when you’re as confident as I am about what you do.

I think a lot of people have gotten used to the very hard trapper side of me and that was extremely intentional, because I saw a gap, not just like in the industry, but in SA… Until I started moshpitting, I had never seen a female moshpit in SA until I saw the gap, and I knew that myself and Sauwcy are very versatile, incredible artists who could really infiltrate trap music in SA… We’ve also ultimately been exposed to it (trap), you know [laughs], and so it’s basically our take on what trap music is. But now I think that I’m ready to show the world every single side of me. Show the world that I’m not just a hard trapper; that’s maybe just a small little part of what I do. I’m extremely versatile… I’m a singer, songwriter, visual artist, a creative as a whole, and I think that’s what I’m stepping into right now. Just showing the world all the parts of me, you know?

Man, I actually miss seeing moshpits now, because I can’t even remember the last I saw that. You used the word “gap” there, which is interesting. What were your thoughts or opinions on our music industry or culture prior to you making your presence known?

I’ve been working in the entertainment industry since I was 17/18, for a very long time, not just in music, but most of the time behind the scenes as a model or whatever… I guess I got a first-hand look into what it looks like behind the glitz, the glam and flashing lights… I felt that it was never all the way there. I never did think that there were a lot more females. I feel that hip hop, as a whole, went through phases, and I think that’s how it goes in any country. Obviously, for us, we can’t wait to really make the transition into the world as well, now we’ve got people like Nasty C and Elaine and so many people; Muzi even… Something is happening. But I think that, before – pre-pandemic – I think that’s the only thing I felt was a huge gap… Us to the world, you know?

Hmm…

But now it’s very evident that it’s happening, like the Jorja Smith thing with amapiano and stuff, so I guess it just took time. And I think that’s what I always thought. I don’t think we were ever lacking. I know a lot of people put pressure on hip hop, but I don’t think that is something that can just happen right now in terms of what we want it to be. It’s something that’s growing and evolving, like I said. Even the way we are as a society in SA, that’s got a lot to do with so many things, you know? We’ve only had about 20-something years of democracy and so, with that… hip hop has grown. There’s more growth than there was 10 years ago, and more rappers, so I think I’ve also just watched that and have also been an observer of culture.

Okay, let’s focus on the challenges. I know that faith plays a big role in your life in terms of bringing you up when things are at the bottom. Can you talk about other aspects you utilise to continue your creativity forward, to push you beyond? This music game is not easy, and we’ve seen many attempts to win and eventually feel discouraged when things go against them.

Yeah, I agree, it’s all so tough. I’ve seen so many artists… So, it’s kind of sad. I guess, for me, it’s like the “eye on the prize”. It’s just about keeping your eye on the prize and knowing what your plan is. If you have a plan, no matter what comes your way, you’ll have to come with a solution. I’ve realised that a lot of people think that it’s just you putting a song together and just blowing up, but that’s the difference between going viral and having a sustainable career. And there’s a very big difference. So I look at myself as a brand… Nothing can come my way, because I understand it comes with ups and downs, so I just always keep my eye on the prize, and that’s very important to me. And roll with the punches, man…

So, what gravitates me towards you is how there always seems to be a purpose behind everything you do – from the song, how it’s packaged, to how you dress. Do you know what type of story you’re narrating, not only through the music, but how Money Badoo carries herself?

Yeah, I guess I’m just telling my own story, to be honest. What am I trying to say and what is it about me? I’ve realised that being authentic to who you are is a brand in itself, and that’s the type of brand that I am; and so, I’m just trying to tell my own story. And my story is that I don’t come from much. I have a lot of creativity and I’m using that to my advantage, literally to build a legacy for myself, my family and the next generation to come. And I think I’m very intentional with the female work that I do. So far, I’ve only done work with females… My collaboration with females has been extremely intentional. I enjoy building with other women, and I know other women have helped me in this department. Yeah, so all I’m telling you is that you’ve just got to be who you are and just roll with that.

So, do you being intentional in working with females make you aware of the influence you have on other female artists? Do you being at the frontline of female representation add some sort of pressure to always be creatively high? Does that add depth to what you’re doing?

Thank you for saying that, but I do now [laughs]. I cannot get lost in the sauce, hey, but I just focus on me and what I’m doing. I feel like I had a foot in when it came to executing, because other people are seeing what you are doing, but I’ve also been doing it in support of a lot of people. This project that I’ve been working on is going to be the actual “this is who I am…”. I’ve also kind of been on the side-line so far and that’s why I feel like, intentionally, I know exactly what I’m doing. I put in a lot of work and know exactly how I’m about to build up the rest of my career, and I hope everybody shakes when it happens, because I felt like a lot of things are “easy come, easy go”.

But I’m ready to shake things all the way up in terms of creativity, the art, and selling the music in a different way. And I’ve seen so many people around the world do it with their music, and I just think that not enough effort is being put into how we’re doing it here, you know? But I am seeing people start, like Una Rams… There are a lot of people taking it there. I guess, with me, it’s about totally doing what I say and what I come across. In the next 10 years I’ll be, like, the biggest sex symbol to come out of SA to go into the world, and that will simply be because that was my intention.

Let’s talk about the project. I’m very curious about it, because this debut album is going to be a crucial moment for you…

So, my debut project is called Pornstar, and Pornstar is all my ideas and thoughts put together, I guess. It’s the embodiment of what I feel is the process of what my growth and journey have been thus far. I’m only in my mid-20s and I’ve experienced a lot as a South Africa woman. And I just wanted to tell this story that… I guess I speak as a female South African, because that’s what I obviously am, but it’s definitely a non-binary story that’s just about stepping into your power and like, say, being very unapologetic about that.

And I know that, as someone like me, who dresses the way I do and how I carry myself, it does come with some type of stereotype or being defined by the way people interact with me based on that, but I want to change that narrative. Pornstar is obviously a play on words… Like I don’t want my body to be…

READ: MONEY BADOO’S DEBUT ALBUM ‘PORN$TAR’ ISN’T JUST ABOUT SEX

Objectified?

Feeling something that can just be easily sexualised when it’s just something that we all have, you know? And I think that, as a society, that’s where we’re headed. We’re seeing things in a much different way than we did in the past. And I definitely have been thinking about this for a very long time… And it’s just also me saying that I’m a really amazing songwriter, and the way that I put my music together, these pieces are so important, and it’s going to be something that people will look back at and find very… It’s a story… I don’t even have words for it, because I just feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work I’ve put into this. So, basically, my debut project is Pornstar and it’s going to make things shake. I feel like on the surface it’s hip hop, but it’s just not what people think I am. I’m just jumping out of the box that people have put me in [laughs].

And three years of working on this is a long time…

Literally.

And what did you learn about yourself while working on it?

I learnt that I am multi-faceted [laughs]. I learnt that, with being in the entertainment industry, there’s a big rush… And for a point in time, especially for MK-Ultra, I felt the need to rush what I’m doing, but then I also learnt that that’s not the type of artist I am. I am extremely curated and what I do is so important, it has so much passion behind it. I want that to come through and that I took the time to put the work into this. So, I learnt a lot about myself.

I’ve made so much music. I’ve had about three projects before I made this project. Even this year, it (Pornstar) was meant to come out, but we were still curating the project. I’ve learnt to be patient with the process, but also to be able to find other ways of working, and find loopholes to make a name for yourself while still doing what you’re doing. Everything that I can do, whether it’s music or the art world, yeah… I learnt a lot about not succumbing to social media, clout chasing or listening to other people’s perceptions and opinions of you.

Now, I’m so proud and so excited, I literally cannot wait for it to come out [laughs]. Yeah, I came out with this idea when I had no music except for the name in 2019, and obviously, at that time, had like billions of managers, different teams, different lifestyles… Now, to be in 2021, I look back at when I came up with this idea and I just feel so grateful to the universe and to God for choosing me. I feel like, finally, I’m on the path I was meant to be on. I feel super alive with my dreams and with every single thing that I ever doubted or feared… It’s all coming full circle for me.

So, I’m assuming the project is 100% done. Are you nervous about putting it out there, because of how important the moment will be?

Yeah, I think the nerves are good. I’m just a nervous wreck in general, to be honest [laughs]. I hide it well, though… I just pray that this project helps me do everything I want to do, travel the world, hear people sing back my songs… It’s much bigger than just dropping a project, you know? It’s just about really taking my life there, changing my life and the lives of my family… So, I guess I am nervous [laughs], but also, at the same time, I’m nervous because I’m really excited and sure. If this was a year ago, I would probably have been way more nervous, but I’m in a different space this year, because even some of the songs I made last year didn’t even make the album… I had to listen to my team.

Now I just feel so ready to spread my wings and I really don’t care if five people or one person loves it. I am beyond in love with the full body of work that I’ve put together. I just know how much work I put in, and also how well the ideas are put together. I’m just excited for the rest of the world to experience it. So, am I nervous? Definitely. But, overall, just mad excited, man.

I’m excited too, and I think, just to wrap it up, I want to find out what the ultimate goal is right now. It’s crazy how the idea for Pornstar was birthed in 2019, but here we are, in 2021, talking about it. What are the next five years looking like for you, your team and the Money Badoo brand? Are you projecting or just going with the flow?

I am definitely going with the flow, because I feel like we’ll have this plan, and then God will laugh at us, like, “haha…” So, my plan is to make sure that this album is one of the greatest to come out of SA, I hope and pray… But also, just for me, the next move for me is to tour the world and open up some of these doors for other artists like myself to the rest of the world. I just want to take off completely, you know… I want to be able to take my music to different places in the world, but also different kinds of places in terms of the industry.

So I have really big ideas. I want to be as big as I can be, become a superstar with the music and, as a creative, build all those ideas and figure out ways to not just change the world, but to also change people’s lives, you know? Change the lives of my team. Have multiple forms of income… Being a businesswoman is a very big part of the musician I am, and I think that’s something I want to grow into and that’s the biggest plan for me, growing as a business.

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