Interview with Danielle Bregoli

I first met Boynton Beaches Danielle Bregoli outside of CJ’s Island Grill in Lake Worth during their annual Street Painting Festival. This was before she was involved in some fisticuffs at the adjacent location. A friend of mine that was bartending, Nicole Abelove, had just denied her request for service. I spoke to her briefly about my project of interviewing

Fast forward seven months later and I get an unknown number calling me. I pick up and it’s someone (named John, or James, Jared, or something else that was short and began with a J) introduced themselves as part of Danielle’s team.

I was rather surprised to be contacted by Danielle’s handlers. After all, I’m no major media outlet. I said as such to them, secretly wondering if this was a joke. But then he explained that he felt the interviews that she’d done with Maxim and Vice were purposefully shortened and edited to make her look bad and after reading the interviews I’d done with other South Florida musicians and artists (such as Kimmy Drake, Adam Sheetz, Niina Pollari) they felt that I would be a good person to sit down with Danielle and help “bring out a more thoughtful side” and give some context to music she was soon going to be releasing. Hearing about this “thoughtful side” of Bregoli was intriguing, as I’d honestly not seen anything that would make me think she had that, so I agreed to meet her to talk about her deal with Atlantic records and the controversy surrounding her being made into a star.

We met at one of my favorite coffee shops, SubCulture Delray Beach, and spoke there. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Ariel Sheen

Hello there.

Danielle Bregoli

Sup?

Ariel Sheen

So should I call you Danielle or Bhad Bhabie?

Danielle Bregoli

You can call me Danielle. Bhad Bhabie’s who I be when I’m behind a microphone.

Ariel Sheen

Got it, Danielle. So would you say that Bhad Bhabie is more of a stage persona then?

Danielle Bregoli

It’s more like me being me but put to a beat. Ya know? It adds layers to me, like lasagna.

Ariel Sheen

Gotcha. So, you just dropped some music yesterday. This is your first time appearing as a rapper – you want to tell me a little bit about it?

Danielle Bregoli

Well, after my appearance on Dr. Phil I had so many people trying to get a piece of me just because of who I am and how I am it was crazy. I’m more than just a meme, and this is my chance to show that.

Ariel Sheen

I bet you had a lot of people trying to get a piece of your shine! I saw quite a lot of memes related to you online after that show. People I knew that are nowhere near your normal demographic were quoting you and talking about you.

Danielle Bregoli

Not surprised, I got a lot of haters.

Ariel Sheen

Why do you think that you have so many haters?

Danielle

Culture wars, man. Old people think I should be acting some way and are pissed that I’m not. Young people know that most of the old people telling them what to do and how to act are full of shit. They either relate or hate because I’m doing better than them without following the high school, college, career path that they think will get them what they want.

Ariel Sheen

I agree with you to an extent, but as someone who’s worked for several years a teacher I know how detrimental such an attitude can be to oneself and others when at your age when your primary responsibility is schooling. I think of the beginning of XXXtentacion’s song Look At Me as a prime example of such irresponsible thinking and behavior. I’ve seen enough kids that went through my classroom to know that those that idolize such anti-social behavior don’t make it to where they think they will in life.

Danielle Bregoli

You honestly going to sit here and tell me that learning about the technological developments around the Fertile Crescent are going to be useful to any part of my life?

Ariel Sheen

Like I said, I agree with you to an extent. That’s a good example you gave and a point I am sympathetic to. Can you give me a little more detail about what you mean? This sounds like something you’ve thought a lot about.

Danielle Bregoli

Yeah, sure. Well, I’m home-schooled. Since I’ve been doing that I’ve been able to learn a lot more. The way I see it the one-size fits all approach to education is bullshit. I know that’s not how things are supposed to be, and yet I’ve seen how this imperative to differentiate curriculum for students wears out teachers. Look at Florida’s retention rates, it’s ridiculous!

Ariel Sheen

I’m still with you.

Danielle Bregoli

Well you’re told that if you do good in school you’ll go to a good college, but that’s not always true either. Legacies have a much better chance of getting into the colleges that will give you the connections you need to really succeed. Plus those who come from wealthier families can help their kids out by supporting them through an unpaid internship and can help them buy houses – a foundational requirement for growing personal wealth.

Ariel Sheen

I think you’re making a fair point there – but I’m not sure that alone merits the kind of wholescale rejection of the system that you seem to now be proposing.

Danielle Bregoli

Well the same goes for a lot of other things. Journalists are supposed to tell the truth about things, but you can’t trust them because they’re either owned by big corporations or are dependent upon them for advertising or need to follow the government line lest they lose the ability to get information and quotes. Look at the contrasting coverage on what’s going on in Catalonia now compared to Venezuela?! Or compare how media covers black compared to white crime and how that affects sentencing.

Ariel Sheen

It sounds like you have a lot to say about things that upset you about America, why aren’t you using the following you’ve created on social media to bring awareness to these things.

Danielle Bregoli

Cause I don’t want to deal with the FBI or CIA watching over me like they have so many other rappers. We know cause of Edward Snowden that they already have operations designed to surveil kids going on and thanks to some good reporting we know that local police departments would like to do the same.

Ariel Sheen

I mean, I get that, but do you really think they’d target you specifically?

Danielle Bregoli

The FBI and the CIA, well, they’re like the sheep dogs of American culture. They work to ensure that no author, artist or musician develops values outside the narrative that they’ve established – a narrative that perpetuates elite cultural values that helps engender antipathy towards lower class people in general and African Americans in particular. If some artist does step outside those lines, well, they either allow the wolves to get them, put them down themselves or get involved in their life to somehow harm them from continuing to produce such music.

 Ariel Sheen

That’s a perspective that has been voiced by other rappers in the past. Do you have any evidence to back that up, or have you been approached by people?

Danielle Bregoli

That’s a small question with a big answer. I think it best to approach it not necessarily by looking at history.

It’s well documented that the CIA was formed by anti-communists who held white supremacist views. Their bloody, sordid history in other countries is well known but people often forget they’ve operated domestically, contrary to legality, in a variety of ways.

During the Cold War, for instance, they sought to enlist American students in the crusade against communism. This, however, was just one of many intellectual and cultural fronts for the CIA. They actively engaged in the world of arts and letters, as well collaborating, funding and even help distributing television series and films that aligned with the world view that they wanted to be hegemonic.

Given their history of significant assistance to artists, intellectuals, and musicians in the past and the lack of government transparency in domestic affairs and its history I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. Now is it just them? No, I don’t think so.-There’s lots of political and economic affinities that draw people together to the message the government seeks to amplify about parts of the populace and profit off it.

I think this in part explains why myself, Kodak Black, XXXTentaction and Stitches and a number of others have been able to achieve a modicum of success despite having negligible talent and personal lives that leads people with positive social values to be repulsed by us. They ain’t the sole supporters, but they help behind the scenes.

Ariel Sheen

Wait, are you admitting that you, Kodak Black, XXXTentaction and Stitches are all supported, in part, by the FBI and CIA?!

Danielle Bregoli

I mean, I don’t have any definitive proof to provide, but I’d wager that in the future after certain documents are made public we’ll see that was the case. It is unusual, don’t you think, that my dad’s a police officer and so is Stitches step-father?

Ariel Sheen

It is, but I don’t know… It still seems a bit far-fetched.

Danielle Bregoli

Fair enough, let me give you an example. Have you seen Cardi B’s video for Bodak Yellow?

Ariel Sheen

Can’t say that I have.

Danielle Bregoli

Well first of all let me just say this. Cardi B looks like trash and raps like trash. Trust me, you know how people say real recognizes real? Well trash recognizes trash when they see it. I can’t imagine all the dicks she had to take in order to make it to where she at right now.

Anyway, putting aside that her lyrics are either banal or senseless, in the video Cardi B is, like, wearing this anarchist symbol along with all these punk rock symbols in one part of the video. Yet at the same time singing in the song: “I’m a boss, you a worker, bitch, I make bloody moves.” Like, think about that. Despite the fact that a lot of people were involved in her becoming famous she disregards their contribution and claims all fame for herself.

Then there’s Rihanna’s song Work, Brittney Spears song Work Bitch, Iggy Azelea’s song Work, Fifth Harmony’s song Work from Home… Compare all these songs that normalize work, praise the power of the lone individual over the collective and help perpetuate the American Dream myth with Nina Simone’s Work Song, and it’s world apart. Work there isn’t just some means to obtaining status symbols but a dreary enterprise force by economic necessity that has a social dimension, which if realized by the workers can be changed.

Ariel Sheen

Well I’ll be damned! So there’s a purposeful encouragement of an individualistic mindset whose hegemony benefits the ownership class because people see their struggles as personal rather than collective and their deprivation as a cause of insufficient energy exertion in the right manner rather than a symptom of American capitalism’s formation of economic and social institutions.

Danielle Bregoli

Precisely.

Ariel Sheen

I can understand now why your team wanted to have this interview with me – you have a much greater grasp of the relationships between music and society than I thought.

Danielle Bregoli

YUP! I might not be the best spokesperson for the undirected resentment for the establishment that most of the today’s youth feels – but that’s the point. Like Killer Mike says, you have to look at the man behind the man behind the man behind the throne… Once you’ve recognized that then you can see how everything else falls in to place. So long as what I say in one way or another helps prop up that order, I know I’m going to bank.

Ariel Sheen

Knowing all this, why do you still want to contribute through your behavior to the alienation of people that follow you?

Danielle Bregoli

Yo, the whole point is I’m getting fucking paid! I don’t give a fuck about anybody unless they giving me money – and even then I only care about them cause they giving me money. I don’t care how I gets it so long as how I gets it. My possibilities for upward mobility in this country outside of what I’m doing now are incredibly limited, so I want to sell out and make as much as possible.

Ariel Sheen

Is that why you are looking to get a reality T.V. show?

Danielle Bregoli

Yup! It’s something that people without talent, like me, can do to make money. It’s cultural schadenfreude.

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If you enjoyed this entirely fictional interview, check out my equally insightful 2015 interview with Stitches.

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