The weekend after Thanksgiving in the States, Saweetie is in an LA studio taking inventory of the backdrop for her Clash photoshoot.
“I think it’s really interesting how people build backdrops,” she notes. “You can’t even tell from the photos the environment you’re in.”
Prior to her shoot, Saweetie spent Thanksgiving at her grandmother’s house - the woman responsible for her moniker, as she called her “Saweetie” as a child. The name followed her to MySpace and now sublime rap stardom. “My grandma likes reading stuff about me, so when I tell the story of how I got my name she gets so excited.”
It was just around a year ago when Saweetie quietly dropped her aspirational ‘ICY GRL’ as part of her now-infamous car freestyles on Instagram. The clip was flipped over fellow rapper Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’ beat and eventually turned into Saweetie’s sleeper hit, unbeknownst to everyone. Especially herself.
“I loved the [Khia] beat a lot,” she explains, “so I kept playing it on loop in my car and was trying to figure out the flow. Then “can’t stop, won’t stop” just kind of flowed out of my mouth.”
Initially, she penned that little ditty to be self-motivational during a time in her life when she really needed it. “It definitely was a pep talk,” she adds, it ultimately becoming one for her new legion of fans.
The 25-year-old Bay Area vixen has had a whirlwind 2018 following that moment. Her critically acclaimed debut EP ‘High Maintenance’ arrived in the spring, led still by the charge of the infectious ‘ICY GRL’.
The Kehlani-assisted ‘Bae Mix’ fanned the single’s flames this past year, as Saweetie found herself collaborating with other big names like Quavo on his ‘Quavo Huncho’ track ‘Give It To Em’, Dua Lipa on the ‘IDGAF’ remix, David Guetta on ‘I’m That Bitch’, and ‘Up Now’ with fellow Bay Area rapper G-Eazy and London On Da Track. Those are just a few of the Ws Saweetie has racked up on her rise to the top, and she’s really just getting started.
“I think a lot of foundation was laid and a lot of hard work,” Saweetie says of her past year. “When you’re trying to grow and break as an artist, you have to meet the press and the radio stations and have all these conversations. This year was definitely a lot of groundwork for me.”
Saweetie got started writing raps at the age of 14, though it took her a considerable amount of time to hone her craft. “I didn’t always sound like this,” she laughs. “I sounded like I was just trying to memorise my raps, and that was it.”
With limited studio access, she finally landed a solid place to record two years ago, and is where she truly found her voice. “I was able to figure out what tone to use and what sounded good,” she explains.
A graduate of California’s USC with a major in Communications and a concentration in Business (plus a 3.6 GPA and full scholarship), Saweetie came out of the gate armed with an understanding of the wild world known as the music industry. It also helped her interacting with all different personalities. “Communications gave me the confidence to communicate with people and hold a conversation,” she says.
Following her Clash shoot in LA, she was New York City bound in anticipation of the single ‘Pissed’, off her upcoming project. “I’m excited but kind of nervous,” she reveals. “‘ICY GRL’ set such a high standard for me, and I’m very thankful for the notoriety I gained from it. It put me up there, but now I’ve gotta come with it.”
The track is a chin check to the good ol’ social media commenters who offer their hot takes just for some lowbrow recognition. “So basically we have access to all of these comments, and I have to say a lot of my comments are good, but there are these people who come into your page @ing you and they like talking shit.”
She pauses and then continues: “I notice these things. I don’t respond to them, so they don’t think I notice but it gets me upset. We’re humans too, so I’ve gotta get a lot of stuff off my chest. That’s what ‘Pissed’ is about; it’s about me talking about people coming at me for no reason. And it’s like, why y’all pissed?”
Initially, her follow-up was slated for a November 2018 release, but Saweetie is taking her time, releasing a handful of singles before letting the full project loose.
“The songs that we have are really good and the project can use more songs like that because I’m growing every day,” she expresses. “I didn’t want to rush into it.” Working with the legendary likes of Timbaland thus far (who she describes as a “magic machine”), she’s hoping to continue to “work with dope people” to build upon her next work.
Saweetie has the luxury of time, though, considering she’s managed to solidify her brand in less than a year’s time and, like her introduction said, she can’t and won’t stop.
“I feel like what separates me [from other artists] is just me being me. I’m not trying to sound like anybody else and I feel like I’ve worked in solitude just to ensure that my sound is my sound,” she says. “I feel like I definitely put in a lot work, but still have a lot of room for improvement. I’m excited to see what I sound like next year because I learn really quick, so I’m just excited to see the growth that’s to come.”
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Words: Kathy Iandoli
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