Saweetie On Breaking Into Music With Her Social Media Savvy

Inspired by Nicki Minaj, the rap icon reveals why it's a great time to be yourself.

Saweetie is just one of the many female rappers dominating the music industry charts right now. As someone who spent her early years idolizing Nicki Minaj, this shift excites the rising west coast icon. 

“I was inspired by (Nicki) being unapologetically herself. Being a woman in the hip-hop industry, we’re often criticized for anything,” Saweetie says, explaining the blowback she’s experienced in the past for being too “bubblegum” and for talking explicitly about her sexuality. “It’s a great time to be a female rapper. I’m just happy to be doing my own thing in the presence of other dope girls.” 

Saweetie credits social media as a big help to her own career and one of the main reasons why so many new artists are now able to break through and reach audiences. Her first hit, “ICY GRL,” was originally a freestyle rapped in her car that she posted to Instagram. “Social media is where I hustled, because social media is the new way of passing out your mixtape on the street.” 

Her series of “car raps” was originally just for fun, but quickly turned into something that resonated with a lot of people, much to Saweetie’s surprise. “My music is growing faster than me as an artist,” she says. “I’m trying to play catch up. I didn’t expect all this to happen so quickly.” 

From a young age, Saweetie says she felt lost and unsure of her path in life. She found her first artistic outlet in poetry, which she says was the first step to discovering her confident, unapologetic rap style. “It was just a young girl expressing herself about what she likes, boys, what she’s struggling with in school, and just saying things that I couldn’t really communicate with my friends and family. So, I found that outlet to express myself with no filter.” 

In a complete deviation from her rap persona, Saweetie sounds slightly embarrassed to be talking about her teenage ramblings. Now that her meteoric rise has caught her off guard, she plans to spend time in the studio honing in and discovering her sound. 

While quite a few of her standout tracks have paid homage to rap hits of the past through samples and interpolations, she’s planning to switch that up. “I think I’m gonna focus on more original beats,” she says. “Tapping into my creativity and really starting from scratch is very important to me, so moving forward I could find myself doing more beats that sound like a Saweetie sound.” 

But her success can sometimes be the very thing preventing her from doing that work. “My project’s doing really well, but eventually I’d like to go back to my roots, back to the studio and find out what that sound is.” 

Saweetie is in a high-profile relationship with Migos star Quavo, who she says has spent a lot of time helping her navigate the waters of the hip-hop industry and become a more versatile artist. “I’m a very soft-spoken, laid-back person, and that comes across in my music. However, not every song can sound like that.” 

Saweetie says Quavo has helped her step out of her comfort zone, becoming more aggressive at times and even singing on a couple tracks. He appears twice on her latest EP, ICY.  “When I’m around people like him, I can kind of take what I learned from my studio sessions and apply them to myself.” 

Despite her career taking off, Saweetie wants to find time to go back to school and complete a master’s degree in business. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a 3.6 GPA. With the background she has, she says it’s only natural to look at conquering the rap game from a business perspective. 

“My mind works different,” she says. “My approach to business, music, my relationships with people who I meet within the industry. It’s not something that I do intentionally, but if I’m being trained for five years of this stuff, I guess it’s kind of inherent to do it that way.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 print edition of BeatRoute.