Bahja Rodriguez was first introduced to the world as one-fourth (and later one-third) of the teenaged R&B group, the OMG Girlz—founded by singer and reality star, Tomeka “Tiny” Harris. Bright tutus color-blocked with equally bold-hued stockings and sneakers were the group’s signatures. Fast-paced, slick talking yet youthful R&B records created their sound. As they matured and group members switched (rapper Lil Wayne’s daughter, Reginae Carter, left the group early on to pursue other interests; Rodriguez’s little sister, Lourdes Rodriguez, also left)—their signature look evolved into more mature ensemble choices, though their colorful hair remained. Catchy records like “Gucci This, Gucci That”, “Where The Boys At?” and “Baddie” earned the singers a cult following and plenty of stages to rock.
But before the OMG Girlz could release a full-length album, the group disbanded. Though they were too new to feel the same shock fans felt when, say, B2K abruptly left us hanging circa 2004—it still sucked because the group actually had promising records.
Rodriguez found herself without the band mates (Tiny’s daughter, Zonnique Pullins, and Breaunna Womack) she’d grown to depend on and began building a solo sound sans the trio’s harmonies and their signature purple, blue and pink hair.
Not singing was never an option, so she had to find another way to eat with her craft.
Fast forward to 2017 and the young beauty has two solo EP’s under her belt—It Gets Better (2015) and Luv (2016)— a growing list of features (i.e. Kodi Shane, Jacob Latimore and former band mate, Zonnique Pullins) and is also set to kick out her first LP this year.
We caught up with the 20-year old to see what she’s up to now and what fans can expect from this next step in her journey.
How far along are you with the prep for the album due out this year?
I would say, in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty far. I just want to be certain about it and I want to have a theme surrounding it and I haven’t really decided what that theme is gonna be. So once I figure that out, everything else will move right along.
Transitioning from the first EP to the second, it really seemed like you grew. What is your main focus concerning your sound right now?
With the writing, I really take my time and make sure that lyrically, everything is up to par. I really pride myself on that with the progression of my music. Just making sure my lyrics are really matching the production.
Who or what’s inspiring you now as you write your songs
Just everything around me. I would definitely say my age is what inspires me. I’m not getting younger. I’ll be 21 this year. I really want to just do this and do it for real. If I keep at it long enough and keep bettering myself and my craft, I’ll become one of the greats.
You’ve been on the music scene since you were 12. Would you say this was your childhood dream?
Definitely living my childhood dream. Ever since I heard music at a young age, I ran with it. Nobody around me ever told me that it was something that I couldn’t do. My family was always really supportive of my dream and helped me make it a reality.
Aside from the album, do you have any other projects you are working on?
I’m putting my energy into my videos. I have some that will be coming out next month for my EP. I’m putting my energy into my brand and just making that bigger than life. I’m working on shows right now, trying to do SXSW. That’s pretty much what I’m working on. Just being visible.
I know you were the brand ambassador of Revel Cosmetics last year. Still working on that?
At this time, no. They are an amazing brand and I feel like everyone should support them. I just want to focus on the music, but the door is always open on that. They’re really great over there.
Like your own make-up line?
I definitely like fashion and make-up but I really want to do hair care. That’s what I’m working on right now—my own hair care line for Black women. Women who have 4C hair and things of that nature.
Are there any hair care regimens or products that you really stick by?
Miss Jessie’s Multicultural curls. I stand by that.
When I’m not working, I’m kind of just in my room. I practice my guitar and my piano. I hang out with my friends. I’m super into my hair, so I’ll probably do that. For the most part, it’s not anything glamorous.
So what have you learned the most about yourself as a solo artist?
I learned you never know it all. I think that’s so important to be aware of the fact that you always get better. That’s why I’m able to progress the way that I am because I’m aware that I’m not the best. It gives me room to grow and to be creative and to figure out what it is that I really want to do.
What are you the most proud of at this point in your career?
I’m just super proud just of my solo career. It really takes a lot of guts to do it by yourself. And to keep at it because it doesn’t happen overnight. It is frustrating and it is hard, but I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to overcome so many obstacles.
5 years from now, what do you hope to have accomplished?
I just want to be great. Whatever that is and whatever that means. I just want to be great. I want people to remember me for being a genuine and really dope artist.