Queen Naija Bulls, a self-described black, Italian and Arab 23-year-old, is a rising YouTube star, singer and songwriter who has built a brand for herself as Queen Naija. Bulls found her first exposure as a 17-year-old when she competed on Season 8 of “American Idol” under the name Queen Bulls. She advanced as far as the Hollywood round of the popular TV show, but unfortunately missed the mark for the top 30.
Despite her loss on-screen, Bulls’ public following skyrocketed to 5.7 million followers on Instagram, 627,000 followers on Twitter and 3.8 million subscribers on YouTube. Her story proves that you can hatch a career on one platform, but develop it through exposure on multiple others.
In addition to her abilities as a performer, Bulls has also capitalized on her personal life to draw interest to herself. The musician is the mother of two children; the first, 3-year-old Christopher Sails Jr. (C.J.), is her child with her ex-husband, musician Christopher Sails. Recently, though, Bulls and current boyfriend, Clarence White, welcomed their son, Renzo, to the world.
Bulls originally helped build her YouTube career along her ex-husband, releasing songs like “Maybe,” “Come to This” and “Exclusive Girl” with her then-spouse. Eventually, she began collaborating with her close friends, Armon & Trey, to produce a variety of musical covers, remixes and original songs. Though none of these songs garnered much commercial success, they enjoyed substantial popularity on YouTube.
In 2016, Bulls and ex-husband Sails developed a YouTube channel, titled Chris & Queen, that featured challenges, story times, vlogs, pranks, and remixes of popular songs. The popularity of Chris & Queen grew rapidly, reaching over 2.3 million subscribers within a single year.
Though the project was passionately received by fans, the couple divorced in November 2017. Shortly after, Sails renamed the channel to focus on himself, while Bulls managed a new page to promote her individual goals. She created a personal channel early in the couple’s relationship, as a way to brand herself, and found herself able to rely on it after splitting from her ex.
At the same time, in addition to her individual channel, Bulls partnered with her new boyfriend Clarence White and son C.J. to create another YouTube channel, “Royal Family.” On this channel, the trio creates videos that focus on challenges, vlogs, story times and family content; as of last month, the family has accrued 1.7 million followers. The success shows that her love for her music doesn’t lessen her love for her family; instead, it strengthens it by keeping her connected with the ones she loves.
The public breakup prompted Bulls went through with her ex-husband to produce an emotional song based on her loss. In December 2017, she dropped “Medicine,” which would reach 2 million YouTube views in just two weeks. By March 2018, “Medicine” had over 10 million YouTube streams and, more impressively, 58 million Spotify streams. The original song would soon catch the attention of record labels across the country.
In an interview with Fader, Bulls explained the significance of the hit. “‘Medicine’ was basically made to confirm to my supporters on YouTube what happened in my marriage,” she said. “They wanted to know if I was leaving or not. I didn’t want to say anything because the first time after the cheating situation happened, I stayed. I felt stupid. But then it happened again privately and I didn’t want everyone to be like, ‘I told you so.’ So instead of talking about it, I told them I’d write a song about it.”
In April 2018, Bulls signed with Capitol Records. Then, just two months later, she released another hit single, titled “Karma.” She claimed that with “Karma,” she wanted to get more personal than she had in “Medicine,” to prove she was a good woman. In one week, “Karma” took No. 13 on the Billboard Digital Songs sales chart, and in July 2018, the song hit No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Capitol was able to provide Bull with opportunities beyond the platform she had already created for herself, and now the young musician has the power of a distribution network at her side. After years of her struggling and scrapping to get her music out to the world, it would appear that this is finally her chance.