(AllHipHop Features) Biba Adams began her entertainment industry career as an Artist Development Representative for Warner Elektra Atlantic Corporation, then becoming a Product Manager for Barak Records-home of Slum Village and legendary producer, James “J. Dilla” Yancey. Her reputation of working with Detroit’s most successful artists earned her the nickname “Detroit’s Daughter.” In the mid-2000s, Biba stumbled into a career in hip-hop journalism given her connections in the industry and innate talent for the craft of writing. Since, Biba has contributed to Jezebel Magazine, The Atlantan, Ebony Magazine, AllHipHop, Revolt, The Root, The Grio and more. She has written hundreds of articles celebrating hip-hop music and culture with her specialties being retrospective pieces about the golden era, as well as insightful feature articles about her hometown music scene.
Biba also worked for seven years at Year Up, Inc-a national workforce development program for young adults where she taught and mentored hundreds of students. Her passion for hip-hop is only matched by her belief in urban young adults and love of community service. She recently relocated back to her hometown of Detroit where she founded The Detroit Hip Hop Organization, a non-profit focused on preserving, promoting, and protecting the legacy of Detroit’s hip-hop music and culture. She also serves on a variety of boards and is active in local politics. A valued Digital Marketing and Content Strategist, Biba Adams is also a Brand Consultant to a variety of lifestyle brands, high-profile clients, and entertainment companies.
A classic “Gemini,” Biba is known for the quick wit, insightfulness, and playful energy that she brings to every project she puts her hands on.
AllHipHop: You recently moved back to you hometown. Talk about Detroit and how it factors into who you are.
Biba Adams: Detroit is everything to me. I grew up in the 80s which was a very tumultuous time in Detroit. Like most major cities, we were heavily impacted by the crack epidemic, we also had a very contentious mayor in the late Coleman A. Young. Detroit also experienced a very high rate of white flight, for most of my life the city was about 90% black. As Detroiters we learn very early that we are the center of the state, and a very powerful city (being the hub of the auto industry), but our blackness also made us heavily disliked and the butt of national jokes and disdain. It puts a chip on your shoulder. You can see that in the artistry and the images of Detroit. People think we are some gangster town, but the way "they" talk about Detroit is all just code for black.
AllHipHop: You are Detroit's Daughter. I've always had a love of the brand of Hip-Hop Detroit produces and you as the conduit to the industry.
Biba Adams: Aw, thanks. It's hard for me to say, but is factual that I am a Matriarch of Detroit Hip Hop. There are never a whole lot of women on any hip-hop scene and that was true here too. I was very passionate about the Detroit hip-hop community because we were a community. We were (and still are) friends, family even. The brand of hip-hop that we make here is born out of that same need to prove ourselves and our worth to the world. As well of a little bit of "F**k you." Detroit has always been a musical city. When you grow up in the shadows of Motown, that doesn't leave. Although the company left, the energy that created it, and a lot of people who were responsible for that sound were still here. We are the children and grandchildren of Motown, which is probably one of America's most recognizable and influential musical eras. We have a strong sense of pride. These are also just amazing emcees, they are really smart, amazing dudes. Guys like Royce, Guilty, Elzhi, Black Milk, Marvwon, the rappers from my hip-hop shop era, as well as younger dudes. There are a lot of people that I can't mention because of time and forgetfulness, but this is a city full of amazing rappers. Steel sharpens steel. I admire them a lot.
AllHipHop: How does business factor into the art of Detroit?
Biba Adams: One of my favorite music business people from Detroit is Al Nuke. He currently manages Zaytoven. Nuke is under-credited, but he was always so innovative. He was one of the first guys to promote our music across the river in Windsor, making him one of the first international Artists. But, there is also a dearth of business here. There are a lot of amazing rappers, but not a lot of amazing writers, publicists, managers, etc. So we still need more of the business polish to get what it is that we deserve.
AllHipHop: Explain what your present role entails work and business-wise?
Biba Adams: I wanted moving home to be something special. I tried the label thing in New York and Atlanta. I knew that when I came home, in the midst of this amazing resurgence that is largely benefitting white people, that I wanted to serve small, black businesses and artists. I recently founded The Detroit Hip Hop Organization which is a non-profit organization that is focused on protecting, preserving, and promoting the legacy of Detroit Hip-Hop through events, educational programming, and strategic partnerships. Right now, a big part of what I do is getting people to work together productively. I brokered the deal for Detroit vs Everybody to offer discounts to customers of Dilla's Delights donut shop, for example. I'm really big on cooperative economics because Detroit has a big underground economy and a lot of minority owned businesses.
AllHipHop: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job and your duties?
Biba Adams: Being home is the best part. Being with my family. Seeing friends. Seeing the success of people that I love. My sister just opened an amazing French café, Le Petit Zinc. I love just being a part of the city again. I'm a very passionate person, and Detroit is so full of opportunity that every day can be exciting and interesting.
AllHipHop: What is the hardest part:
Biba Adams: It's hard, sometimes, to find forgiveness. I still feel under-respected, underutilized, underpaid sometimes. So, I have to go within very often and realize that the work that I am doing is bigger than me. I want kids to write book reports about Detroit hip-hop. I want the city, it's artists, and myself to have the respect we deserve (and the money that comes with it on a larger scale.) I'm fortunate that I have an amazing family, and my brother, Dean, works with me, as well as runs his own marketing company, Humble Flei. The hardest part exists mostly in my head. When I get out of there and just do the work, I have great days.
AllHipHop: Can you describe a moment of adversity personal and in your career?
Biba Adams: I feel like, as a woman in this industry, that I haven't been given (or taken) opportunities. In addition to my work in hip-hop, I also work in the non-profit/service space. I've been discriminated against, I've been gossiped about. I've had the struggles most people have, and especially people who have any kind of high-profile. It's important for me to always stay clear about what is an adversity? Am I causing it? Can I change it? Most importantly, can I go around it to get what I want?
AllHipHop: What keeps you from giving up?
Biba Adams: I love my city. I love the music we make. I am a fan first. I am a fan of the people that I work with. I love J. Dilla with all my heart, I loved Proof with all my heart. The love and legacy for Detroit and Detroit hip-hop makes me want to keep going every day. I had a difficult time in my late teens and early 20s, I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that this music and this culture, in this city, saved my life. I owe it my best.
AllHipHop: Who inspired you to become a leader or boss?
Biba Adams: My Grammie. My grandmother always worked two jobs. If you didn't have a job and a side hustle, she questioned your character. She owned a flower shop when I was growing up and I admired her tenacity. After the flower shop, she made and sold church hats, successfully. She is a very hard-working woman. She's also really funny, loves God with her whole heart, and loves her family. She, my mother, and my daughter inspire me every day.
AllHipHop: How do you balance work, and personal life?
Biba Adams: What personal life? I have kind of resigned myself that I am an extremely independent woman. I'm not in a relationship right now, because it is sometimes a challenge for men to have to play the background to a woman who works as much as I do. I really like the Chris Rock analogy that being in a relationship is like being in a band. Sometimes you are on lead vocals, and sometimes you play the tambourine. But, when you do, play it with all your heart. Don't compete, support each other's success. That's what I'm hoping for in my next relationship. As far as my family life, I give myself in service to my family. I take the trash out, I clean, I take my grandmother to doctor's appointments. I give, give, give...somehow, I find that it also fills me, in return.
AllHipHop: What do you like to do for fun?
Biba Adams: How awesome is it that my professional life is fun for me? I don't really have an "off" switch. But when I'm not working, I LOVE to read. I learned to read at 3 years old and haven't stopped since. I read a book a week, at least. I also have a pretty strong spiritual practice, so I like to read stuff about metaphysics, A Course in Miracles, that kind of thing. My mom is a big movie buff, so I watch a lot of movies with her or on my own. And, I hang out with my dog.
AllHipHop: Final words?
Biba Adams: I am thankful for this opportunity. You are a dear friend and AllHipHop will always feel like home to me. It's SO important that hip-hop music and culture love and celebrate women. We contribute to it, we make amazing music, we run these labels, we love this culture as much as the men do. I hope that we continue to open doors for female emcees, and other contributors to the culture. Respect women, Listen to women, Trust women, Love women, Invest in women, especially Black women.
AllHipHop: Oh, do you hate ironside hex (formerly known as hex murda)?
Biba Adams: [Laughs] No... Hex is a big old pumpkin. He is such a legend in Detroit hip-hop. I'm so grateful that he is embracing his talent as a writer, and telling all these amazing stories. He just wrote a mini-history for the D-Cyphered book by Jenny Risher. I love how active he is on social media. I could never hate Hex. I love him very much. He hates you though. Kidding, I think the only person he TRULY hates is Trump.
Detroit, What?! .[Laughs]