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BIBI Drives into New Territory with Becky G in 'Amigos' as She Reveals 'True Self': 'Always Shapeshifting' (Exclusive)

"I just want to make music that tells my ugly side too," the South Korean solo artist says of her next chapter

From humble Soundcloud origins to a newly released collaboration with Becky G, there’s no doubt that BIBI is charting her own path to stardom.

Against a mountainous backdrop, the music video for “Amigos” showcases a playfully provocative story that toes the line between guilt and seduction.

With BIBI behind the wheel of a car and Becky G riding shotgun in the opening scene, it’s clear that the pair are headed into risky territory.

“I know we had a good time / And that you always want more / But if my boyfriend calls / We are friends, nothing more,” the song begins.

<p>Amy Lee</p> BIBI and Becky G

Amy Lee

BIBI and Becky G

The sensual lyrics feature another layer of complexity when BIBI sings them in Spanish with Becky G, alongside English and her native language of Korean.

The trilingual star flows between the languages, just like how she effortlessly switches between English and Korean while speaking about the song on a Thursday morning in Seoul.

“I just woke up,” BIBI says to PEOPLE over Zoom with a laugh. “I’m about to go climbing after this.”

Long before the South Korean solo artist and actress could discover her “favorite” exercise, the 25-year-old had always been a “big fan” of the Latin music industry. So when her label, 88rising, first suggested the collab with the 26-year-old pop singer, there was no hesitation on both ends.

Related: Becky G Says She's Learned That Being Latina Is a 'Blessing': 'So Much More' Than 'Checking a Box'

Becky G focused on creating an “infectious beat” that “proves music’s ability to transcend borders,” while BIBI harnessed her songwriting prowess.

“The music lyrics are very slutty, a little bit controversial,” BIBI says of her lyric-writing process.

But she makes one thing clear: “It’s not based on my experience.”

<p>Amy Lee</p> Becky G and BIBI

Amy Lee

Becky G and BIBI

That’s because the self-proclaimed “shapeshifter,” whose real name is Kim Hyung-seo, is always changing in her musical exploration, where she decides whether to draw from her own personal experiences or create an entirely new persona.

In fact, “Amigos” comes off the heels of a multifaceted career that is becoming just as internationally popular as the song itself. As soon as she released her debut album, Lowlife Princess: Noir in 2022, her single from the album, "BIBI Vengeance," quickly became a hit.

Even before the album took off, BIBI was already making waves with her edgy, indie-inspired pop. The broken records have proved that ever since “The Weekend” singer became the first South Korean female solo R&B artist to chart on U.S. Top 40 radio.

<p>Justin Shin/Getty</p> BIBI performs in South Korea in August 2022

Justin Shin/Getty

BIBI performs in South Korea in August 2022

Since then, the “Hongdae R&B” singer has performed on stages around the world, including 88rising’s Head in the Clouds musical festival.

It was at her Los Angeles festival debut in 2021 when BIBI made headlines after stepping down from the stage to kiss a female fan during her set. Later on, while performing "She Got It," the singer threw packs of condoms to a crowd with outstretched arms.

“In Korea, I never throw condoms and cigarettes,” BIBI says. “I just throw them some candies. I can’t be spicy everywhere, so I’m a person who can change.”

Her newfound confidence is certainly a far cry from the younger version of BIBI, whom she described as a “weird creature.”

“I didn’t know how to make friends and I was so awkward,” she recalls. “That’s why I jumped into my own world and just created things.”

At first, BIBI treated singing solely as a hobby to safeguard her privacy and because her father initially discouraged her after he quit his own dreams to become a singer once she was born.

To pass the time, BIBI bought her own mic and started uploading tracks onto SoundCloud under the name “naked bibi” — a reference to how babies are naturally born without clothes. That concept soon gave birth to her stage name, a metaphor for how she aspires to show her true self.

Then, in a sheer stroke of luck, hip-hop star Tiger JK and his wife, rap queen Yoon Mi-rae, stumbled upon the budding artist's music. Even when they invited BIBI to visit them in Seoul, the then star-struck 18-year-old still was convinced that it was just for fun. After all, with college looming in the distance, she thought it was too late to go further.

But when the couple offered to sign BIBI to their label in 2017, her father tearfully had a change of heart.

“‘Please try — it could be your last chance,’” BIBI recalls of her father’s words. After finishing just one semester at college, she would heed those wishes and release her debut single, "Binu," just two years later.

<p>The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty</p> BIBI in Seoul, South Korea in May 2023

The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty

BIBI in Seoul, South Korea in May 2023

In another universe, BIBI says she would have debuted with a mask. She imagined herself covering her face in such a way as to hide the fear she had about letting “everybody know” who she was.

“I wanted to hide myself because I didn’t want everybody to judge me by my art,” BIBI muses. “If you’re an actor, you don’t get judged by your role. But singers and artists are always judged by their songs.”

“I was afraid of that, but I’m too pretty to hide my face,” BIBI adds with a chuckle.

It’s that very beauty that the “Bad Sad and Mad” singer says her continuously growing fanbase, the BIBI Bullets, knows best. However, they haven’t yet gotten to know the “ugly part” of herself that she has kept away from critical eyes so far.

Her true self isn’t the one on stage, nor is it the one constantly in front of the camera, she claims. In fact, it’s just an "alter ego" to who the performer really is.

“Before, I thought, ‘Stage me is the most amazing me – I’m living life,’” BIBI explains of her early career. “These days, I’m just like, ‘This is work.’ I enjoy it, and I go crazy too. But I always try to remember: this is not really you, this is just another persona of you. So I can’t get [off] the stage and not hurt and feel lonely.”

<p>Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty</p> BIBI performs in Singapore in September 2023

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty

BIBI performs in Singapore in September 2023

With a motion of her hand, BIBI visualizes the ups and downs she has faced in a career where it’s difficult not to let criticism of her alter-ego impose upon her inner self-worth. Through that journey, she learned the importance of keeping a firm boundary between the two.

“If you don’t study how to divide it, you have to keep [being] in the world that an artist stays,” BIBI says. “The world that an artist stays in is not a good thing. It’s so hard and so dark.”

That’s why the Hopeless actress has learned to set “seasons” during her creative process. In the music season, she solely focuses on writing songs for her next album. When the next season rolls around, she’s ready to produce the album. The one after that? She’s either stepping into marketing and designing roles or working as an actress.

By limiting her music-writing efforts to only a few months out of the year, she doesn’t keep herself “melancholy” for too long.

“It’s really hard to get out of it, but I get out of it through everything,” BIBI says.

Even though the idea of showing her “uglier side” makes the "Life is a Bi…" singer “afraid,” she always makes sure to stay honest with her fans in moments of struggle.

“I always tell them, ‘Oh, I’m having a hard time,’” BIBI says. “I always say I’m so tired because I’m born tired, man.”

<p>PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty</p> BIBI in Cannes in May 2023

PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty

BIBI in Cannes in May 2023

That bit of vulnerability is what the performer channels to emphasize she’s the “same as everybody else.”

When her career is completely out of the picture, she’s just a “normal” person who enjoys climbing, reading books, drawing, eating her favorite Korean food of fermented fish and watching her current favorite anime, Spy x Family.

“I think I’m a very aggressive person, and I’m very, very sensitive,” BIBI continues. “I always complain a lot. I’m the kind of person who thinks, ‘This drink is not cold enough,’ but I don’t [say it] because everybody would think I’m an asshole. But everybody’s doing it, isn’t it?”

“When I get cold, I squat. When I get anxiety, I squat,” the exercise fanatic adds of her go-to move.

Showing these aspects of her true self to her audience is going to be a “little by little” process, she says. For now, she feels most free around her close friends and even in becoming her own best friend.

“‘Oh, you want to go shopping?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘You’re so pretty and you’re so cute.’ ‘Thank you, BIBI.’” the singer says while mimicking an inner dialogue with herself. “That’s what I mean by being my best friend to me.”

That kind of self-love also includes congratulating herself on the smaller, more personal wins.

For instance, after she posted a teaser for the “Amigos” collaboration with Becky G on her Instagram for the first time, her “favorite taco place out there,” @vgtacos, sent her a message.

“They DMed me like, ‘Oh, I think that’s a really good idea BIBI, I’m proud of you,’” she recalls with a triumphant smile. “I was like, ‘Yes, my favorite taco place is proud of me!”

When BIBI now thinks about the future, her next goal is to “keep it simple, back to the culture that I loved and just do whatever I like.”

“I’m always hiding myself in music, but I just want to make music that tells my ugly side too,” the songwriter hints about her next album theme.

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She’s also continuously looking to give back to her coworkers, who are part of the “music family” that she has grown to love.

“I just want to make them rich and make them happy to work with me,” BIBI says with a smile. “I want to show them how much I love them. Love is good.”

“And money is also really good,” she adds with a laugh.

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