The 22-year-old Rising Hip Hop Star Talks will.i.am, Instagram and Family

At just 22 years of age, India Love has already accomplished more than most could hope for in their lifetime. She began her career as an influencer, amassing a staggering 3.7 million followers on Instagram and earning her very own television show on BET. Since then, she’s made her debut as a hip hop artist under will.i.am’s personal mentorship. And while Love has both fame and followers, she’s managed to stay grounded and uses her platform to spread the messages of self-love and Black girl magic. We caught up with Love at will’s Los Feliz studio to learn how the phrase “God’s Will” has made a monumental impact on both her personal and professional lives.

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Where did your career as an influencer begin and what was your kind of earliest claim to fame online? My earliest claim to fame online would be my Tumblr days. I would just go to grocery stores and take all of the bags of chips off the shelf, then take pictures with them. I felt like people would think that’s creative and it started there. People really started gravitating toward me and relating to a lot of the things that I posted. I was just taking it with a grain of salt because I didn’t know how much influence I really had. But knowing how much influence I have now, I would.

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How do you think that your persona online changed over time? I think it changed dramatically over time, because it all came through life experiences, learning different lessons and growing through things that I didn’t even know I had to go through. Just being a young lady in this industry, having the spotlight on me was very hard. All of my mistakes and all the things I was going through were put under a microscope unlike a regular girl my age.

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What was your first tattoo and how was it received by your family?

My first tattoo was hidden right under my armpit. I got it there specifically so that I could hide it from my mom. It says “God’s Will 01/01/00.” My mom had a baby in 2000, but he didn’t make it and she named him Will. I felt like that was God’s will and I’ve always had that in my head. I wanted that tattooed because I remember that day like it was yesterday. But I have my miracle little brother now who’s 12, so I’m grateful for that.

Growing up to now, family plays a really important part in your life. What are the best and the worst parts of being in a family that’s in the public eye? The worst part would be the expectations of others put on you. We did like reality show on BET, which was great, but now everybody’s like, “you only did one season?” But it was our choice not to do another season, we wanted to take a more cautious route and keep our family bond without having it misconstrued in some reality show. And then the best part, it’s our family bond in general. There’s no slacker in the family. Everybody’s on their own grind trying to hustle and mark our last name on this world.

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As the youngest of four sisters, how have your older siblings helped you to become the woman you are today? My sisters had a lot to do with my confidence. My oldest sister, Brooke, was like my second mom. They all let me know my purpose, why I’m here, and they never want me to slack off, and I do the same for them. They’re the best motivators ever and it’s incredible.

While you got your start as an influencer and a model, you’ve since become a rising star in hip hop. What made you decide to pursue a career in music? will.i.am presented me the opportunity after I did his music video, “Boys & Girls.” That was our first introduction and then, weeks later, he sat me down and asked me to be the brand ambassador for his Apple headphones. He told me, “I see more in you than you probably see in yourself. I would love to bring that out of you if you trust me with this journey. I would love to try to help you to be an artist.” After that, I took a step back because I’m very shy and it was hard for me to get behind the mic. Then, when I agreed, he put me in the studio literally 30 minutes later and I made my first song “Loco.”

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What makes will.i.am a good mentor? First of all, his life experiences; he is very wise. He’s almost like a computer with all of the information that’s stored in his brain. When he talks to you, you almost want to write every little thing down. I soak it all in like a sponge because I appreciate him having the patience and the time to be in the studio with me. He could put me in there with different producers, but he’s the one who’s behind the computer helping me and giving feedback. I always appreciate him taking the time for me, because I know he’s super busy.

What has he taught you about maintaining a lasting career in music? Patience is huge, because in this generation everyone’s attention span is short. People don’t really have the patience to see the drawn out story. But will really instilled it in me that it’s important as an artist to give them a buildup and to show them your development, rather than just trying to go for the hit every time. They need to see your growth as an artist to know that you’re really trying to be a rising star and not just make it to the top; just be this whatever person.

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What inspired you to talk about self love and self confidence in your song, “Talk Yo Sh!t?” I got bullied throughout elementary, middle school and high school—both on and off the Internet. It was very important for me to let others know because, like I say in my song, that was the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life. It’s very important to have it rooted in your mind and in your heart that no one can tell you anything about yourself and that you’re beautiful your own way. So this song is really about self motivation.

Coming up, what can fans expect in terms of future collaborations and new music? Right now, I’m strictly working with will as far as the collaboration thing goes. I’m still developing myself and I want to be confident in my own sound. will and I have a plan where I’m releasing a song and a visual every month consistently. There’s never going to be a time where I don’t have a visual with my single, because I just feel like I’m a visual artist. I don’t want them to just hear my song, I want them to see it and feel it.