Interview: Bri Steves Dives into Her Unapologetic & Empowering Anthem “ANTI QUEEN”

Bri Steves © Derek Blanks
Bri Steves © Derek Blanks

This Black History Month, Atwood Magazine has invited artists to participate in a series of essays, interviews, reviews, poetry, playlists, and more features in recognition of, and out of respect for the symbolism and significance of this month.


Today, Philadelphia’s phenomenal Bri Steves dives into the intimate depths of her unapologetic and empowering new anthem “ANTI QUEEN” as a part of Atwood Magazine‘s Black History Month series. An Atlantic Records signed rapper, singer, producer, and musician, Bri Steves is a dynamic and fast-rising force to be reckoned with. Since debuting with a string of arresting singles in late 2018, the East Falls-born artist has continuously asserted her indomitable strengths as a compelling lyricist and expressive, head-turning performer. Her soaring singing is matched only by her effortless rap flow, as Steves displayed in 2018’s dazzling hit single “Jealousy.”
Bri Steves © Derek Blanks
Bri Steves © Derek Blanks
Following late 2020’s releases “Stick Up” (ft. Poundside Pop) and “Sober,” Bri Steves returned at the top of 2021 with yet another definitive, defiant showcase of her talents: A seductive, subversive, and stunning outpouring of unapologetic and empowering self-expression, “ANTI QUEEN” is as catchy as it is meaningful. Steves reimagines what a female MC can and should look and sound like through a fusion of rap and singing, femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability. 
Directed by Atlanta-based photographer and filmmaker Derek Blanks, Steves’ “ANTI QUEEN” music video adds a whole new perspective to her song’s story and message as she tributes the women who came before, and inspired her. “‘ANTI QUEEN’ challenges people’s expectations and perceptions of female artists,” Steves says. “I’m pointing out there’s more than one way to wear the crown. In my video, I pay homage to a few women who came before me – Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez. These women inspired and influenced hip-hop by not fitting the mold. They are the original ANTI QUEENS… Now it’s my turn.”
They say I’m not a queen because I walk like that
And I talk like this, and I don’t hold back
They say I’m not a queen, when I act like this
When I dress like that, when I flex like this
ANTI QUEEN - Bri Steves
ANTI QUEEN – Bri Steves
“ANTI QUEEN” starts an important conversation about what it means to be a female in hip-hop, and Bri Steves is happy to start the discussion off strong with a fervent, heated critique of society’s standards that, in turn, exalts those special eccentricities and nuances that make us different – the characteristics that help us stand out. An independent spirit, Steves embraces her individuality through a savage upheaval that is as cool and confident as it is deeply honest and intimate. “ANTI QUEEN” is the cathartic self-empowered anthem we can all sing with pride in 2021.
“The goal was always to say something honest and needed. I felt like the world was missing a record like “ANTI QUEEN” – a straightforward song about embracing everything that should make you different. I started off listing things I was told would take away from my artistry, and it all came out as a big “f what they say, I’m here to stay” anthem for me.” – Bri Steves
•• ••
They say I’m not a queen because I walk like that
And I talk like this, and I don’t hold back
They say I’m not a queen, when I act like this
When I dress like that (Ooh), when I flex like this
They say I’m not a queen, ’cause I talk my shit
And I back it up (Ooh), and I don’t ride dick
They say I’m not a queen, ’cause I had an abortion
Oh, she thinks she important?
It’s all bullshit
I’m way too savage, I don’t meet industry standards
I get way too honest when I’m in front of a camera
I had to bet on myself, invest in myself
A queen, that’s on God, can’t think less of myself
I gave you all of me, I need the rest to myself
Why you callin’ me if you don’t want my help?
Stay far from me if you against my health
No one will stop what I just built, hmm
– “ANTI QUEEN,” Bri Steves

•• ••

A CONVERSATION WITH BRI STEVES

ANTI QUEEN - Bri Steves

Atwood Magazine: Thanks for taking the time out today, Bri! I’ve been absolutely infatuated with “ANTI QUEEN” from the moment I heard it. Can you share a little about the story behind this song?

Bri Steves: I wrote “ANTI QUEEN” as a response to the all the bullshit I was feeling about the industry in general. As a black women in music, people are always tryna box you in, telling you you have to look a certain way, dress a certain way etc. I’ve experienced it all. This was my way of sayin F you to the stereotypes. You can be whoever you want and still be a successful Queen in this game.

How do you feel “ANTI QUEEN” reintroduces you and captures your artistry in 2021?

Bri Steves: It was a super vulnerable record for me. Talking about having had an abortion before was hard for me. But it’s necessary, I want people to know my story. Know I’m not perfect. I think “ANTI QUEEN” is the perfect song to prepare everyone for my project. You gonna get more raw honesty.

Your PR team proudly proclaimed that you've ''redefined the female hip-hop image'' with this song. What was your vision going into this record, and did that change over the course of writing and recording it?

Bri Steves: The goal was always to say something honest and needed. I felt like the world was missing a record like “ANTI QUEEN”, a straightforward song about embracing everything that should make you different. I started off listing things I was told would take away from my artistry, and it all came out as a big “f what they say, I’m here to stay” anthem for me.

It all came out as a big “f what they say, I’m here to stay” anthem for me.

Bri Steves © Derek Blanks
Bri Steves © Derek Blanks

''They say I'm not a queen because I walk like that, and I talk like this, and I don't hold back,'' you sing unapologetically from the start. These lines really struck me; what do they mean, for you?

Bri Steves: Right from the gate I wanted people to hear that I could care less what they gotta say, even tho I hear it. That opening line was me being unapologetic about who I am. Whether anybody likes it or not hahaha.

So much of this song feels wrapped up in self-love and acceptance, as well as rejecting others’ expectations and setting your own standards. What is it about these concepts that was so inspiring to you?

Bri Steves: I’ve been inspired by women who are unapologetically themselves. Like Missy, like Left Eye… Lauryn… that’s what made me do my own take on “ANTI QUEEN”. You don’t get anywhere not being yourself. All those Queens gave me the blueprint. Be yourself, don’t hold back. It’s powerful.

You’ve been actively making music for years now, and it’s been an especially busy past three years since you joined Atlantic. Was “ANTI QUEEN” defined at all by your own personal experiences within the music industry?

Bri Steves: Absolutely. I was told for years I’d have a tough time getting ahead cause I was too tomboy-ish, or cause my hair wasn’t straight, crazy stuff like that lol. I decided the best thing I could do was to write about it and shake shit up. So I did.

What was your experience like working with Derek Blanks for the ''ANTI QUEEN'' video?

Bri Steves: He’s a legend!!!!! He was so easy to work with and made everything fun for me. His team is next level. It was a 16-hour shoot but it felt like we was all just hanging out. He’s the man.

You've talked about paying homage to women like Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez; what is it about them that broke the mold, for you?

Bri Steves: They all went against the grain. They was sexy but it was the artistry you cared about. When they spoke, you listened. And each was all so different, each with they own style. Each one shook shit up when they came out, they stood out and ain’t care if you fucked with it or not. That’s what I aspire to be. Unapologetic.

Do you have any personal highlights from the video shoot and your experience bringing this song to life?

Bri Steves: Favorite part from the video shoot was when they turned me into Missy and I got to recreate her iconic shot spinning upside down on her head from the work it video. That was wish fulfillment for me, I always wanted to do that!!! For the song, I worked in the studio with Trinidad James for the first time, and he is one of my heroes. Crazy experience, we just clicked when doing “ANTI QUEEN,” he was instrumental in bringing this song to life.

Bri Steves
Bri Steves

How do you feel the music video expands on the song? I personally feel like it adds a whole new perspective to your story and the message you’re conveying!

Bri Steves: Paying homage to the women who inspire me just drove my point home more. You can be whoever you wanna be and achieve success, and the Queens did exactly that before me. Now it’s my turn. I gave people my story and I paid respect to the women who gave me the blueprint to stand out and just be myself.

As a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lyrics in this song?

Bri Steves: “I’m way too savage, I don’t meet industry standards, I get way too honest when I’m in front of a camera. Had to bet on myself, invest in myself, a Queen, that’s on God, I can’t think less of myself…

What do you hope listeners take away from “ANTI QUEEN”? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Bri Steves: I hope there’s some woman out there that’ll be inspired to just be herself. I took away that it’s always best to say “f it” and be you.

— —

:: purchase/stream “ANTI QUEEN” here ::
Stream: “ANTI QUEEN” – Bri Steves



— — — —

ANTI QUEEN - Bri Steves

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📸 © Derek Blanks

:: Bri Steves ::



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