Pretty Bulli: Then x Now

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Photo courtesy of Kidd Called Quest

Buffalo Hip-Hop artists Pretty Bulli and Kidd Called Quest teamed up to deliver one of the best albums of 2024, “Then & Now.” Then & Now is an album that delivers on every front. Bulli’s aggressive lyrics blend beautifully with the soulful and lush production of Quest, making Then & Now a must-listen for Hip-Hop lovers.

Then & Now is a 13- track release produced entirely by Kidd Called Quest. The album features appearances by Curtis Coke, The Source Academy Kid, Ken-C, and Jaz-O.

Pretty Bulli spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about presenting more of her personal life in her music, the importance of storytelling, working with Kidd Called Quest, and her album, Then & Now.

TRHH: I spoke to you a year and a half ago and you said you and Quest were working on an EP. How does it feel to finally drop the project?

Pretty Bulli: Wow, it’s been that long [laughs]? Ah, man, it’s crazy how it came up because like when I talked to you we had so many singles leading up to this progress I didn’t realize we had a whole album. We were just going to do it an EP, but we ended up having so much music along the way that this baby was formed. So, I’m definitely excited about this.

TRHH: Were you ever going to stick with the EP plan and just stash the other songs?

Pretty Bulli: That was the plan because I’ve never planned on dropping an album. For as long as I’ve been doing this I wanted everything to be probably at a higher standpoint before I dropped an album. But it feels right and I’m not fighting it [laughs].

TRHH: So, what’s it like working with Quest?

Pretty Bulli: He is phenomenal! That’s my brother. Shout out to Quest, that’s definitely my brother. Over the years we’ve really gotten close. We talk almost every day and we have that kind of bond where we bounce ideas off of each other. The whole conversation is like, “Oh, we could do this” or “we could do that” and we’re acting on it. So, the whole time we’re in motion. That’s my bro. Can’t nobody tell me nothing about Quest [laughs].

TRHH: Why did you title it Then & Now?

Pretty Bulli: Because it pretty much represents the project. Like I said, we weren’t doing an album, so we didn’t have a name, we didn’t have a goal, we didn’t have a direction, none of that. But when we actually sat down and listened to what we had it spoke for itself. Because some of the tracks I’m talking about how I grew up, where I came from, what influenced me, and then fast forward to present day it’s like, “Oh!” It just made sense.

TRHH: On the song “Confidence” you say, “I ain’t trying to be famous, I’m just sick of being broke.” That’s such a real line. I remember you telling me that you had many different hustles. Is the goal to have music as your only hustle?

Pretty Bulli: You know what, music is a bonus, and it took me growing to figure that out. When I first started this I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m gonna get on, Im’ma get rich,” like this was years ago though. So, that was my mentality at first, but now it’s an avenue for me to speak on everything else that I do. For me to talk about life, to reach other people, I don’t see it as a money bag anymore.

TRHH: When did that change though?

Pretty Bulli: I would have to say the last three years. It was recently, I’m not going to hold you, because I was really on trying to push the project the wrong way. Trying to push music to get revenue is the wrong way. As I figured out who I was pushing to, everything else just clicked into place, like, “Ah, that’s not how I’m supposed to do this.” You know [laughs]?

TRHH: A lot of people should take note of that.

Pretty Bulli: It’s like a hidden gem and a lot of artists don’t want to talk about it, but I’m the type of person that if I can save you from doing the things that I did that hindered me and held me up, I got you! I can drop jewels all day, absolutely. Figure out who you’re talking to and then everything else falls into place.

TRHH: Do you mentor other artists in your area?

Pretty Bulli: Not on purpose. I’m very private, so I’m not really outside much. If I’m outside I’m kind of like a unicorn — I’m popping up and you’re not expecting me — that type deal. So, when I do enter rooms with certain people and we have conversations and it’s organic then, yes. But I never put myself in a position to do so, if that makes sense. But if you’re willing to pick my brain, I got you.

TRHH: The storytelling on the song “Don’t Judge Me” is top tier.

Pretty Bulli: Thank you.

TRHH: You’re welcome. Do you prefer creating stories over braggadocios rap?

Pretty Bulli: Yes, absolutely. I can say that quick [laughs]. How can I put this? Braggadocios is easy. To actually get into the art of storytelling and to make someone feel what you’re saying, that’s not an easy task and I like to challenge myself. Anybody can talk shit — that’s easily done. I mean, you could do it in a clever way that no one can do it like, I get that, but it’s different to tap into different avenues to speak from different perspectives. It’s layers and I’m loving that. The more I get into this I’m loving it because I’ve always been a storyteller, writing poetry and things of that nature. So, now to incorporate it into my music, it just feels like home. I’m snuggling [laughs].

TRHH: There is a lot of online debate, but in your opinion, who is the best storytelling emcee of all-time?

Pretty Bulli: Aw, man. See, that’s not fair, only because music is based on opinions anyway. So, from my perspective, I wouldn’t say the best, but from my era to me Pac was so strong with it. Like, he put me there. He made me want to do it. So, I wouldn’t say that he’s like the best of all times, but he was one of my favorites.

TRHH: What’s your favorite 2Pac storytelling song?

Pretty Bulli: Brenda’s Got a Baby, oh! Like, what? I felt like I was Brenda, I wasn’t, obviously, at the time, but it was so descriptive that it puts you right there. You didn’t even need the video; the video was a bonus. But his descriptive writing was top tier.

TRHH: Very vivid. You have two very personal songs back to back, “Thank You” and “Break.” You mention your mother and your daughter’s father in these songs. When you’re writing these songs do you worry about the response you might get from the people you’re rhyming about?

Pretty Bulli: Yes, absolutely. Conversations need to be had prior to releasing things like this, because it’s never malicious intent, but when you’re venting from a real place it comes out just like that. So, you may have to have that sit down with my baby before this comes out like, “Listen,” just to let her know what’s to come because she’s 16. Her friends and everything listen to the music, too.

I’ve already had the conversation with my mom, like I said, there’s no malicious intent but that is my story. So, “Mom, just a heads up,” that type deal. So, yes, I absolutely worried about how they would feel. But for so long I kept in hidden issues, things that bothered me, because of that. But now I see it as we’ve already moved past it, so this story that I’m telling is not really for me — somebody else needs to hear it.

TRHH: What was your mother’s response?

Pretty Bulli: We had a really good conversation. It wasn’t like she was mad or anything. We can laugh about it a little bit, but that that was pretty much that. Because again, we’re not there anymore. That was a long time ago, long time ago. But like I said, it’s still a part of my story.

TRHH: What about your ex?

Pretty Bulli: Oh, I don’t know, I ain’t talk to that nigga [laughs].


Pretty Bulli: I don’t give a shit how he feels about it. That’s just a fact.

TRHH: Understood, understood. Who is the Then & Now album made for?

Pretty Bulli: It’s made for the listening ear. With my last project it was more from a lyrical standpoint to see what I can do and just to show people my range. But now I wanted the audience to be able to tap into who I am more, because I didn’t do that with my last few projects. So, a lot of people are asking, “Who is Bulli?” That’s what Then & Now is. It’s me across the board from start to current day.

Purchase: Pretty Bulli & Kidd Called Quest – Then & Now

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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