Saweetie Talks ‘ICY GRL,’ Working with No I.D. & Upcoming EP
The Bay Area rapper behind the buzzy track “ICY GRL” may be named Saweetie but she rarely sugarcoats. After sharing her hard-hitting ICY GRL playlist, TIDAL Rising’s Artist of the Week gets real about her love for writing, penning her breakthrough hit in a room with only a mattress and linking up with legendary producer, No I.D.
Allow Saweetie to take it from here.
On falling in love with hip-hop:
I grew up in a hip-hop household. My mom and dad listened to Tupac, Biggie, all the greats were played in my household. I fell in love with it, and when I started writing on my own on Limewire, I found Nicki Minaj and I’m like, she’s so bomb. My AIM [AOL Instant Messenger] name was richbarbie. I was already writing poetry, so I started writing raps. I performed it for a couple of friends and they loved it and that kinda gave me the confidence to move forward.
On growing up in the Bay Area:
I think it’s just the culture. We have the hyphy movement. The songs are just full of energy, super authentic, and I feel like every artist is original because originality is what makes you you in the Bay. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of copy cats out there.
On the origin of her stage name:
So my grandma used to call me it and you know everybody had their nicknames on MySpace, so I was like, okay I like Sweetie but I don’t like the word “sweetie” so I’m going to spell it this way. What kind of solidified the name was my stepmom got me a chain my sophomore year in high school so everybody wanted to be new new and had the gold chains. I had my Saweetie chain so everybody started calling me it.
On her Filipino and Chinese roots:
Well, it definitely helped me become a more well-rounded person as far as being culturally sensitive to different people and just being aware that everyone is different, so I got the opportunity to see that not every person or family or cluster of people is the same. So definitely a big cultural difference ‘cause I don’t have an Americanized, not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I have traditional Filipino grandparents so it’s different.
Just respect. I learned respect from both sides of my family, but my Asian side is super strict. They’re all about addressing their elders a certain way, so that kinda stayed with me.
On juggling multiple jobs while in college at University of Southern California:
I’m a busy body so I love just being involved as many things as possible, and if it’s making me money, then the more, the merrier. I feel like it’s just different, like people don’t know academics is a hustle as well so you gotta learn the system of your class, and if you’re able to know how to navigate through your course with your professor, ‘cause every professor is different, then it’s just like magic.
I was still rapping. I love writing so much, and sometimes, I’ll get carried away and write ’til 4 or 5 in the morning but then I’d have class at 8 a.m. and absolutely have no energy. Once I’m in writing, I’m fully in it, so I was like, I need to focus on college. If I’m going to one of the top schools in the country, USC [majoring in communications], I need to give it all. I’m not here to play around.
I interviewed at a lot of hospitals to get that money ‘cause they pay a lot. I actually got a couple offers but every time I was interviewing and I was offered a position, I would get sick like that sick feeling you get when you know that something’s not right like I’m not supposed to be doing this. I turned down my offers, was doing side hustles and making car raps and thankfully, I found my manager.
On the inspiration behind “ICY GRL”:
I only had a mattress in my room and was just not satisfied with life. I went from having two to three jobs, being a full-time student to not making any money and sitting in an apartment with no furniture. I was renting rooms off of Craigslist which is not the most fun thing to do. It humbled me a lot but it was also the bottom point of my life and I was like, you’re not this person so you need to be consistent with rapping. “ICY GRL” was just kind of the motivational anthem I made for myself and I’m so happy it’s able to uplift men and women in the same way it did for me.
On working with No I.D.:
I’m working with No I.D. right now, who recently produced the 4:44 album. I met him through my manager. He’s a really down to earth, authentic individual so he’s not going to gas me up but he gives me wisdom and things I can take with me. If someone is nurturing you, then obviously they see something in you, so that means a lot to me. He’s like a Yoda. We’re working and feeling it out.
On her upcoming EP:
I’m dropping it in February. The title will be High Maintenance, but when I say “high maintenance,” [I mean] my education is high maintenance. USC is not an inexpensive school. It’s a lot of money. Materialistically, of course, I’m high maintenance but my relationships like friends, boyfriends, with whoever I’m with is high maintenance. A lot of people don’t really value their relationships nowadays, but I’m really traditional with that. People don’t have a lot of morals and are so power hungry that they’re willing to just do whatever it takes. I really nurture and care for the people around me, so my spirit is high maintenance. I pray a lot. Like everything about me, I put a lot of work into it.
I am a product of the women in my family. They are all smart, high maintenance and they’re just really role models. When they didn’t do something right, they sat me down and were like, “This is what I did wrong, I want you to learn from my mistake,” which is why I say to the women who are watching me, I might not do everything that you agree with but take something and learn from it.
I really love the Kanyes, Nicki Minaj… When you hear their music, you feel it. I will actually listen to an artist and then write. I did that a lot with JAY-Z. I listened to “Ignorant Shit” a lot. I just loved his emotion and what he was portraying. I might not be saying exactly what he’s saying but I hear the hunger and the ambition in the lyrics so I hope people can be inspired by my body of work.
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