A year after releasing her debut EP High Maintenance, Bay Area rapper Saweetie is back today (March 29) with her latest offering, the ICY EP. With the ferocious confidence to match the brains and bars she brings to the table, Saweetie is on a mission to remind listeners to boss up, look good, and always be about your business.
Saweetie has been transparent about the road to her rapper dreams, often sharing stories about college days to the humbling job search that came after. With a degree from the prestigious University of Southern California, she hit the pavement running in search of a day job, but ultimately wound up turning down job after job when none of them sat well with her due to the different agenda she had for herself in her heart. She pushed the practicality of settling for just any high-paying gig to the side, and instead found herself renting rooms Craigslist while posting videos on social media of her rapping in her car in an unshakable pursuit of her dreams.
If Saweetie had given up then, her music goals wouldn’t have come to fruition — little did she know her pivotal moment was right around the corner. In late 2017, opportunity met timing as her hit “Icy Girl,” which she wrote in one of her Craigslist-rented rooms, started to go viral. Slowly but surely the glitz and glamour she rapped about in that track started to become a reality, and today, the hit RIAA Gold-certified hit boasts over 100 million streams across all streaming platforms.
After “Icy Girl” landed her a record deal with Warner Bros. Records in February 2018, Saweetie has linked up for some more strong hits under her belt, including “Up Now” with Rich the Kid and G-Eazy, and the “Icy Girl (Bae Mix)” remix with her fellow Bay Area sis, Kehlani. On ICY, Quavo is the only feature, going bar for bar on “Tip Toes” and showing out on her next sure-fire hit, “Emotional.”
Her mission with her music is simple: make women feel confident. Whether it’s giving women the strength to leave a toxic relationships through girl power anthems like “B.A.N.,” or constantly reminding listeners their time is coming, Saweetie aims to inspire. "If my music is touching girls and women in that way, giving them the courage to just be confident in knowing they deserve better, then I feel like I’m doing my job,” she tells Billboard.
Check out our interview below.
Your project ICY is finally here. Why did you decide to make another EP instead of something album-length?
I’m still a baby artist and I’m learning, so before I prepare my big official debut, I’ma just continue to experiment and find my sound. It’s been a year since I dropped High Maintenance, and these days you see people dropping maybe every other month or every few months — but it’s been a year [for me]. I’ve been taking my time and it’s given me the opportunity to grow as an artist.
Out of all the producers on this — Hit-Boy, Murda Beatz, Buddha Blessed, NOVA Wav, London on Da Track, Cronkite — who do you have the best chemistry with?
Well, most of my sessions have been with Hit-Boy and London, so I haven’t had the opportunity to really vibe a lot in person with the other producers. But they’re super open to experimenting and taking direction really well and they have good energy. I feel like when you’re collaborating with other people, being able to connect and truly have fun is important.
Is there a record on ICY that didn’t come out as you originally planned?
I have a song on there called “Tip Toes,” and it has another Quavo feature on it, in addition to the “Emotional” record. “Tip Toes” made it at the very last minute. I missed my flight to L.A. because when you’re working a lot, you just get your days mixed up sometimes and it was one of those days. I missed my flight and we wound up going to the studio and just freestyling back and forth, bantering. It came out as just this really fun and dope record. It literally just made my EP cut, like it wasn’t even going to make it, but hey, I missed my flight and we made a hit because of it. The best moments are moments like that.
I can speak for a lot of girls my age when I say you’re super relatable. Who is the first artist person you truly saw yourself in?
I felt that way when I was a freshman in high school and I was a big Wayne fan and my friend was like, “You need to check out this girl named Nicki.” I was like, “Who?” and then I think I listened to “Sunshine.” My AIM username at the time was “Rich Barbie” and she was calling herself a Barbie. Then, I listened to Playtime Is Over and she was just talking about a bunch of boss and girly shit, nails, pretty hair, just being a girly girl but still being about her business. I was like, “Damn, I wanna do that, too.”
In your HardKnockTV interview, you open up about your mental breakdown from taking on too much. Since then, you’ve only become bigger. How have you been able to cope with all this added pressure? Has it gotten easier?
I haven’t had any more moments like that because I’ve learned to be vocal. I’m the type of person where I’ll take on anything because I like to work so much. I think that control now comes with looking at my schedule and really taking the time to see what can work and what can’t. In the beginning, I took on every opportunity because I was so determined to get my name and music out there. You can get your sleep, but honestly your brain needs a break, too, and so many people forget that. That’s where those mental breakdowns can come from. I’ve learned to say no.
How is your music making an impact? What do you hear from listeners?
I hear a lot of breakup stories. [Laughs.] A lot of women reach out to me and tell me my music has given them the courage and confidence to break up with not just any boyfriend, but an unhealthy relationship. I have a song called “B.A.N.” which stands for “Bum Ass N—as,” and I remember this girl told me she left a 10-year relationship. If my music is touching girls and women in that way, giving them the courage to be confident in knowing they deserve better, then I feel like I’m doing my job. The goal obviously isn’t to have everyone breaking up with their man, but I know my music really helps girls feel themselves, feel good, and boss up, and that’s the best part.
Your life is full of full circle moments: writing your first freestyle to Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and then appearing on a track with him, or going back to speak at USC, your alma mater. What's your favorite full circle moment?
I have a good one. So I’m signed to my agency, CAA (Creative Artists Agency), and I remember back when I was trying to get literally any job. I interviewed across the street from that agency a year prior to my music poppin’ off. I was being considered to being this financial advisor girl, again, trying to get any job possible. I had even applied to hella jobs in the medical field and got some of those, but turned them down. Then, I tried this financial advisor one because I wanted to find a job that was a bit more interesting to me. I went to a career fair, got an application, had a great interview, went two more rounds.
I didn’t get it and at the time I was disappointed, but honestly in my heart I wasn’t super disappointed because I knew that wasn’t what my passion was. But it was crazy because a year later, after getting rejected, I signed with an agency that was across the street from that financial job I had once wanted so bad. It just goes to show what’s meant to be for you will always be there for you, in front of your face — but it will come when the timing is right.
Tell me something about yourself people would be surprised to know.
I’m actually really good at football. I come from a very athletic family and playing football was like jumping rope for me as a kid. That’s just what we all did and I didn’t ever distinguish between what’s a “girl sport” and a “boy sport.” It was just something I always did with my cousins. My team is the 49ers.
My favorite bar that keeps me going is “Keep grinding, boy. Your life can change in one year.”
“And even when it’s dark out, the sun is shining somewhere.” Nah, I love J. Cole so much. He’s the only rapper I’ve consistently bought every single album each time. I even went to a concert by myself because that’s how bad I wanted to see him.
Think back to your life a year ago — how does it feel given where you’re standing now?
Whew, it’s a lot. It’s scary but in a good way, because it’s like, “Damn, I did this in just a year. Imagine what I can do in four years.” I’m excited for what’s to come because I have a great team and we have great ideas. I have not only the two EPs under my belt, but we’re launching merch, a lip gloss is coming, and “Icy” chains. With the way things are going, who knows where I’ma end up?