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The lovely, but deadly Atropa Belladonna

By Lainie | November 19, 2009


Hello everyone, I was checking Socially It’s Twitter messages one day and noticed a message from Bella Donna; a lovely female MC out of Long Beach, CA. She had seen the Socially It website and asked how to get an interview on there. Of course we don’t come across everyone we interview, and we do get requests from time to time. I had some free time so I checked out her Myspace page and took … in an ear full. I must say the Bella Donna does have a voice I have never heard before in this game. She has a very unique vibe to her, and is easy on the eyes. It was my pleasure to interview her for the website. Make sure you check her out and let her music speak for itself.


Lainie: Bella, whats next for you?
Bella Donna: Right now I’m gearing up for the release of my mixtape, “Devil’s Cherries”. I’ve been promoting that really heavily and just working on getting my exposure up. I’m also doing a reality show; a sort of  “The Makings of Devil’s Cherries,” where I have a camera follow me around and capture all of the things I go through as a female emcee doing her thing in a mostly all male dominated sphere. There’s gonna be lots of laughs, lots of funny shit, and lots and lots of drama. I’m not even the type of person who surrounds herself with drama like that, but I tell you the closer I get to this industry, the more things I learn about it and all it’s dirty, nasty, little secrets. I’ll be giving out more information about where you can catch the reality show on Twitter over the next couple of weeks so make sure you follow me! We’ll be shooting a video for “Spaceship,” which is one of the singles that’s going to be released off the mixtape soon, so be on the lookout for that too, and definitely live shows (live shows coming to a city near you). The scheduled performances will also be posted on my Twitter page @BellaDonnaizhot and on The Space Cadettes Twitter page @AtropBellaTeam. ATL, Miami, and Charlotte, I’ll be seeing you next summer!

Lainie: When did you decide that it was an MC you wanted to become?
Bella Donna: I’ve always been into music ever since I was a little kid. My two uncles both played the guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard and my mom played the saxophone and was also a singer and dancer so I grew up in a musical household. But I think I really decided I wanted to rap (like this is what I want to do with my life) … my freshman year of college. I had always been good at it and I always used to just write rhymes for fun and recite them to my friends or freestyle at lunch in high school, but at some point during that year, I decided I wanted to do it more than just for fun. I think it was around the time I had to decide my major. I just took general classes my first semester but then I had to start narrowing down the things I was good at and what I honestly loved to do. Everything I was good at had to do with music and in the end it’s the only thing I can’t live without. So I choose music and I’ve been pursuing it ever since. I guess you can say I majored in Rap.

Lainie: I see you have toured Europe. Tell me about the response you got over there?
Bella Donna: Europe was absolutely amazing! The Netherlands is like my second home now. I was over there for three weeks and loved every bit of it. The people were all down to earth, very eager to help lost Americans (laughs), and they loved hearing my music. France was pretty cool too! I have plenty of crazy stories about what happened in Paris (smile)! While I was there, I performed with a live band at The Sugar Factory in Amsterdam and the experience was awesome. Everybody was coming up to me after I performed to tell me how much they enjoyed it, and I was even asked to perform at two other clubs but I was leaving the next day so I didn’t get a chance. Europe is someplace I’m definitely eager to get back to.


Lainie: What question can’t you stand to be asked?
Bella Donna: I HATE being asked, “Who do you sound like” in reference to my music. I can never give anyone a straight answer when they ask me that, because I always strive to be original and bring a new perspective to the table. Although there are many artists who have inspired me such as Kelis and Little Brother, I can’t really say that I sound like any artist out right now.

Who would you like to work with?
Bella Donna: Hmmm, thats a good question … I’d love to work with Amy Whinehouse, Sade, Andre 3000, Pharrell, Drake, Lauryn Hill, Laura Marling, Jay-Z, Trey Songz, Kelis, Regina Spektor, Dragonette, Lupe … man too many people to name, but that’s definitely a good start. Definitely at the top of my list.


Lainie: Describe yourself in one word.
Bella Donna: TheCoolest (smiles)!

Lainie: What’s the story behind the Space Cadets?
Bella Donna: (Laughs) … That spawned from a nickname that a few close friends used to call me. They used to call me “Space Cadet #1,” cuz I’d always be spacing out, or lost in a day dream or sum shit. I’m constantly thinking of new verses and hooks for songs and ideas for different videos in my head, so sometimes I just tune people out. (Laughs) … anyways I thought that would be a tight name for a group. So when I started getting my team together (my PR girl, my artistic director, my street team, and everybody else), we needed a name. The Space Cadettes sounded dope and so I rolled wit it. Now here we are … (smiles)!

Lainie: How would you define the word “success”?
Bella Donna: Success to me means being able to take care of and provide for your family. And I’m not just talking about your immediate family; I’m talking about your unborn kids and their unborn kids. It means more than getting out of debt and buying a big fancy house. Success is creating a legacy… a legacy that includes residuals and the fruits of your labor. Residuals that will continue to feed the Bella generations to come and allow them to take what great grandmother set up for them and multiply and expand it. Take granny’s legacy and flip it, because you have the capital to do so. On the other hand, success also means a celebration for removing yourself from all the bullshit. I’m talking about bullshit people and bullshit situations. It means gaining peace of mind and clarity, because now you have removed all the negativity out of your life and you can be happy and concentrate on what really matters. Success is a beautiful thing. It’s my favorite word.

Lainie: Would you change your lyrics to get on the radio?
Bella Donna: Sure. I’ll change “fuckin” to “freakin” or omit certain curse words (laughs). But actually do damage to my musical integrity? Can’t do it. If they tell me, “B you can’t talk about Black empowerment so much. They’re gonna think your militant or some shit.” I’ll say, “Okay, I’ll change.” Then I’ll just make the metaphors a little deeper. If they tell me they need some party shit, I’ll say, “Ok!” And just spit dope lyrics over an up-tempo, catchy beat and put an insane hook on it. I don’t believe in dumbing yourself down for the radio. If your shit knocks, it just knocks. They can’t deny you that.

Lainie: What image do you think your music conveys?
Bella Donna: I think my music reflects the complexities of a real woman and I think it instills a sense of classiness thats been absent from a lot of the music that female emcees tend to put out these days. Not that they’re all bad, because I know a lot of great ones, but the dominant image is of this wild bitch, excuse my French, who doesn’t give a fuck and who will do whatever and fuck whoever she needs to, to get where she needs to be. That’s cool for some but that’s just not me. I think there’s a way where you can still portray yourself as sexy and desirable without sacrificing your dignity and self-respect. Sometimes I’ll say the same shit, the same sexual shit as the most filthy-mouthed emcees, yet I’m coy with mine. I’ll disguise it in a metaphor. I want to show all aspects of womanhood and not just go along with the dominant discourse. I think you can be an about your money, be a bad ass chick, loyal friend, sexy, independent, take no shit avenger, intelligent scholar, hustlerette of the century, and girl next door all at the same time. We often teeter along a tight rope trying to balance these perceptions of ourselves that the world thinks that we should have, but I’m not afraid to fall off. I’m not afraid to be different. That’s what my music represents. The ability to be yourself and embrace other roles than those that are laid out for you. I take the road less traveled.


Lainie: Describe your fashion style to us.
Bella Donna: Fashion is like my second love so I treat it as an extension of me. My outfits most times, depend on what mood I’m in. One day I’ll rock my red suede knee high boots and jeans, lookin like the flyy girl next door, and other days I’ll rock a vintage dress with a cocktail ring, lookin like a modern flashback (laughs). I usually change my personal style often, because I like to stay ahead of the masses. I don’t like it when too many people start to rock the same thing. That’s the ultimate fashion faux pas, to be spotted in the same fit as another girl. Ick! Right now I’m going through a futuristic/ bad ass chick in leather phase. Its winter time so it’s the perfect season to bust out the leather pants and accent everything with metallic dark colors. Dark blue, silver, bronze, and burgundy; I’m on that. One thing I never do and make a conscious effort not to do, is confuse classy with trashy. I think its easy to fall victim to a lot of the whispers swirling around your ears when your a female artist, telling you to lose more clothes and super sexify yourself (I think I made up that word), but I always do what feels comfortable for me. Being half naked in the wintertime, ass cheeks hangin out ain’t cute! We off that (laughs).
Lainie: Who has inspired you as an artist?
Bella Donna: I’d definitely have to say my idol;  Bette Davis, Kelis, Regina Spektor, Little Brother and Jay Z. Ever since I first saw her in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” Bette Davis has been my favorite actress. Most people my age don’t even know who she was but her whole demeanor and swagger was so off the charts to me. If you ever watch Bette Davis in any of her films, you can’t tell me she doesn’t have swag. She definitely inspires me in her approach to things. And Kelis and Regina Spektor, I’ve been a fan of theirs for so long, I can’t help but be inspired. Little Brother and Jay Z for the insane lyrical talent of course. I bumped Little Brother’s “The Minstrel Show” for like 3 straight months, nothin else (laughs), and Jay? No words, he embodies inspiration.


Bella Donna’s Bio:

Every female rapper likes to consider herself different from the rest and Bella Donna is no exception. However, Bella Donna’s hypnotic delivery, raspy voice, innovative and original lyricism, and eccentric style easily set her apart from other female artists and make her the exception. The name Bella Donna literally means “beautiful woman” in Italian and in English is the shortened name for “atropa belladonna”, a plant that contains hallucinogenic properties that when ingested creates vivid delusions that can be fatal, thus reflecting her dual sided nature (A Beauty and a Poison). Bella previously went by the stage alias “Bella Donna” but due to the widespread use of the name, she adopted the Atropa (pronounced Aa-tro-paw) and now goes by “Atropa BellaDonna”.

Bella isn’t scared to be the passionate, eclectic, mysterious, real, and feminine young woman that makes her unique. She aspires to show all aspects of womanhood through her music, and not just cater to the “hood” crowd, or the “conscious” or “prissy” crowds by showing that the same woman can be insanely swagged out one day, sensuous and sexy the next, independent and responsible the day after that, or all at the same time.


The California born emcee began her foray into the artistic realm early in life by writing poems and short stories that she would later recite to her close family and friends. Growing up in a family full of artistic individuals, self-expression through art came naturally to her. Bella’s mother was a dancer and classically trained singer who danced with Eartha Kitt’s troupe, Kittsville and also played the piano and saxophone. Her two uncles were also musicians and composers who played the piano, drums, synthesizer, guitar, and bass. Spurred on by her family’s encouragement, Bella Donna entered a national poetry competition in the 8th grade, resulting in two of her poems being published in a national poetry anthology. Bella continued to write poetry until the ninth grade when she fell in love with Rap and realized that she could combine her great love of words and music to create something very pure and original. While pursuing her burgeoning rap career, Bella Donna simultaneously also pursued modeling, journalism, and song writing, other early loves.

Bella Donna takes inspiration in her real life experiences, experiences of those close to her, day-to-day life, daydreams, and from influential artists from all facets of the entertainment world such as her idol, Bette Davis, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson. Bella has performed in venues all across southern California and Europe, including Paris France and at the “Sugar Factory” in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Bella is everything you never expected of a female rapper and upon first glance is often judged by her appearance, which motivated her to write her song “Chick like Me”. The lyrics, “They ain’t never seen a young chick like me, I’m bad on the mic but I look like I sing”, totally capture Bella’s personality and essence. Bella is definitely not one to be slept on and world domination is nothing short of attainable for this beautifully talented artist.



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