“This tape is all fun. All fun and games,” says Deja Carter, the San Jose rapper who also goes by the nickname Bbyfce. “It’s not really a true meaning to the whole thing, it’s just a summertime tape.”
Carter was born and raised in San Jose on the East Side, so naturally her music reflects its imagery: lowriders, bulging blunts, fitted hats and gold chains. And while a lot of that is applicable to the rest of the Bay Area’s style, Carter is more likely to rock a Sharks jacket than a “The Town” hat, and definitely more likely to wear something with the letters “SJ” on it. Her upbringing in the South Bay even bleeds into her lyrics.
“Ain’t No Party like a San Jo party cause a San Jo party don’t stop,” she raps in “Don’t Fake The Funk,” the single from her 2021 EP GAME SOLD SEPARATE.
The cool, self-assured “Don’t Fake The Funk” came together as Carter began finding new devotion to her art while living at a friend’s house. For the first time, she started spending more money on the studio than on the clubs. Though the San Jose rapper started making music at the age of 13, her drive became more refined, as did her list of features, which now includes San Jose’s LJame$, Union City’s Mad Cleva, Oakland’s Chippass and more to come on her forthcoming full length.
“I don’t even plan on saying Imma be this millionaire rapper. I would love that, I should hope one day I can get there. But I’m also trying to build more passive income for myself,” Carter says. “I don’t want to be wealthy just off rap. I want to do other stuff and get passive freedom. Freedom is what I’m trying to look for, everyday freedom.”
What holds her back, she says, is “just living a regular lifestyle, having to have a job, pay rent.”
“Basically I’m in grind mode right now. I’m grinding and I’m hustling to where I want to be. It don’t come for free,” Carter says. “I’m trying to climb to the top.”
The young rapper and barber hustles a few ways to keep herself creatively inspired and keep money flowing in. She formerly worked in food service kitchens at Facebook but recently quit. Now she delivers food during the days before she goes to barber school at night.
“I represent integrity, being honest with yourself,” Carter said.“If you’re doing something wrong and you can check yourself about it then you’re going on the right path.”
Carter started building her dream of becoming a popular rap artist five years ago with a $500 investment into an audio mixer, microphone, laptop and recording software. She learned how to record and mix music on YouTube, then started finding people locally to collaborate on beats.
“I smoked a lot of weed. I would really just kind of sit on the porch, roll a wood and run through the beats that I had,” Carter said. “It’s very easy for me to be in my head with my headphones and write a bar here or there.”
What hasn’t been easy, however, is having a stable home life. Carter says she got kicked out of home before she turned 18 for getting in trouble at school too often. The last straw was she got caught selling weed cookies after class.
It’s also not easy maintaining the level of capital required to make the playa moves described in her songs. Old school Cadillacs don’t come cheap and neither do private barber shops. But Carter plans to stay on her grind with aspirations of owning at least one of each, hoping to be one of the few successful black, queer business owners in the increasingly gentrified San Jose brick-and-mortar shop market.
Her latest single released in April, called “How 2 Do This,” is just a small example of her persona and mindset. It’s about how she found a way to be a rapper, a “young shark in the water just trying to eat,” and how she focused on her career and art instead of just hollering at fly women.
“I’m just trying to work for myself, be self employed, have more freedom in life and just live it,” Carter says. “In five years do I want to keep working for someone else, or do I want my own money?”
Carter’s new album, still unnamed, is expected to drop mid-August.