Pride 2022: Saucy Santana

Pride 2022: Saucy Santana

GEN V

Pride 2022: Saucy Santana

Saucy Santana dishes on all things summertime, rap artistry, and the queerness of being in his digital cover story

Saucy Santana dishes on all things summertime, rap artistry, and the queerness of being in his digital cover story

Photography: Domen & Van De Velde

Styling: Davey Sutton

Styling: Nicola Formichetti

Text: Ahad Sanwari

Saucy Santana came bursting onto the hip-hop scene almost by accident, a fairytale you could say, when a rap he created for a theme song for his podcast started gaining traction. A few viral TikTok challenges later, he’s one of the hottest new acts in the game, collaborating with some of the fiercest performers out there, and establishing a presence all his own, for a purpose he never thought to fulfill.

As a queer, femme, Black, plus-sized performer coming up in the Florida scene, he was creating a space that hadn’t really existed in the mainstream hip-hop industry up to that point, so you’d think that the pressure of representing for the many people he stands for would get to him, especially in a space he didn’t even see himself being part of in the first place. Right?

saucy santana

Saucy Santana wears Pride tee, Balenciaga blue trench, Laurel Dewitt gold and silver cape, 8 by Yoox crochet pants, 8 by Yoox combat boots , Givenchy pearl headband, Laurel Dewitt gold fan

“I don’t give a fuck,” is his response. Santana has no qualms about just going in there and being himself, as gay as he needs to be, as loud as he needs to be, and as vivacious as he needs to be. In our conversation, even in the moments of taking quiet gratitude, he’s playful, quick, straight up fun. The person you see is exactly the artist you’re getting, boppy melodies and savage bars and all. 

From his hilarious social media presence to his taste-the-rainbow style, spanning the gamut of fur-lined hats and leather skirts, the rapper is proudly who he is, and that’s exactly why he’s THAT next big thing, if he ain’t the big thing already. We talk about coming out, pride, his viral path to stardom, and everything coming up on the Saucy Santana show.

V Magazine: I wanted to start from the very beginning. Tell me about your upbringing, what was the experience of spending the early years in suburban Connecticut like?

Saucy Santana: I lived in Connecticut until I was 10, then I moved to Florida. I also lived in New York, in the Bronx and Harlem. The northern lifestyle, it was just fun, experiencing snow, being snowed in, we ain’t going to school. It wasn’t like that in Florida, we don’t get no snow. So there was no staying at home. I had my first hot Christmas in Florida, so it was just very different growing up in Connecticut.

V: And what was your coming out experience like?

SS: I came out on my 17th birthday. I initially came out as bisexual because I was kind of scared to say that I was all the way gay. And I figured that if I just say you know, hey, I’m bisexual, people will just think, ‘oh, okay, he’s gay, whatever’. I still had girls that had a crush on me. So I was like, ‘oh no, that’s not what I was going for’. But at 17, that’s when I started venturing off in makeup, wearing girls’ clothes, getting my nails done. Eventually, I just came out and told everybody, ‘okay, you know, I’m gay, it is what it is’ and I want to date boys.

saucy santana

V: You’ve mentioned before that you even dated girls in high school, what was that like?

SS: It was fun! I had all the bad bitches, all of my girlfriends were very pretty. It was cool, as I grew up, that’s what I was used to. Even though I knew that I liked the boys, I just felt love for bad bitches. How I am to this day!

V: Of course! How did you develop an interest in music and rap at the time?

SS: I’ve always loved music since I was a kid. But I never saw it for myself. It wasn’t until I had started a podcast with my friends. And we were just playing around and thought that we needed to have us a theme song. So we went to a studio, we made a theme song for our show, and literally we got so much good feedback, everybody was saying, ‘oh my god, Santana, I didn’t know you could rap’, and I went, ‘wait, me? I was just going off’. So I started rapping freestyles, people wanted me to come to clubs and perform freestyles. And I felt like everybody was really liking my stuff, so let me go back to the drawing board and produce a good song. Initially I was just thinking that I would go to clubs to perform, and I still wasn’t thinking about being a rapper. So I went and did “Walk Em Like A Dog,” which I released on July 4, 2019. And it got a million plays in one week on SoundCloud, and everything’s changed since then.

V: Going viral on SoundCloud, picking up a few TikTok challenges along the way, was that the path you saw your career going?

SS: No, I always thought I was gonna be a celebrity makeup artist because that’s what I used to do before I was rapping. So even when “Walk Em Like A Dog” blew up, I still didn’t know what was in store for me because the first deal I got was a distribution deal for three months. So I didn’t even have anyone that wanted to work with me long term. People were just wanting to utilize the song.  I still didn’t know what was in the cards for me.

V: Who did you listen to growing up?

SS: Trina, Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj, a lot of pop music, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, I used to listen to Pink, I listened to Beyonce growing up. There are so many people, I’ve always loved music.

saucy santana

Saucy Santana wears Balenciaga blue trench; pride tee, 8 by Yoox black crochet pants, 8 by Yoox combat boots

V: The classics. And how would you describe your own style of music to someone who came up to you and had never listened to it before?

SS: I would say my music is fun. My music can be ratchet. And empowering.

V: Oh I can definitely tell. And one thing that really piqued my interest is that your love for referencing other music in your own really shines through, like with “Booty” and “Get TF Out My Face.” Where does that interest come from?

SS: That just comes from, literally, my love of music. You know how when you hear something and we just remember it from when it was a hit when we were younger, or we remember how the first time we heard the initial song, how it made us feel. And I’m just really into digging back in my roots and playing on sounds that I enjoyed as a kid or that I just enjoyed as a regular person before I became a celebrity or a rapper. I still enjoy those sounds. You know when you hear a song and you’re like ‘ooh, I love this song’, it’s fun now to be able to be in my shoes and be able to recreate them.

V: I feel you, the excitement is present.

SS: For sure!

V: And you specifically fill this space in the hip-hop scene that’s pretty sparsely populated, being a queer, Black, femme, plus-sized performer. Do you ever feel the pressure to represent for a specific community of people?

SS: No, I actually think that “queer” is becoming so normalized now. First of all, I don’t give a fuck. It’s just easy for me to be me, it’s easy for me to walk into a room and be myself. And just stand up there, just me and my culture, that’s how I feel. Surprisingly a lot of people fuck with it. So I’m just glad that it’s not as foreign or weird as it used to be.

V: What does it mean for you to see how much you influence the lives of others by just being there?

SS: It means everything. I love what I do and I love when I see people imitating me, people recreating me, or me just giving someone the strength to be themselves or be fearless, living their truth. That’s my biggest thing, being authentic and being genuine. The energy that I give will rub off on other people.

V: What does pride mean to you, personally?

SS: Pride personally means to me just what it says, pride, being prideful, being proud of who you are regardless of who doesn’t like it. I feel like when people try to hide who they are, or have to pretend to be something that they’re not, it’s like a sense of imprisonment, you just feel trapped or in a cage. So what pride means to me is to just have pride in everything you do. And to be proud and to be prideful in who you are.

saucy santana

Saucy Santana wears neon yellow Balenciaga jacket, pride shirt, 8 by Yoox crochet pants, 8 by Yoox combat boots, Givenchy pearl headband

V: How do those aspects of your life affect your music?

SS: I feel like it just helps my music come out genuine and real. And that’s why people love it, because you just hear my music and it’s a vibe. And the people that are also in love with my personality, it’s like they get a two-for-one, they’re like, ‘oh my god, his music is just as infectious as his personality’, so you kind of love it even more. And it’s easy for me to do that because I’m proud of who I am. I represent myself through music.

V: I love that. And I wanted to also congratulate you on making it to the XXL Freshmen class for this year, a huge deal in hip-hop. How did that feel?

SS: That’s history, that’s a very big deal. It’s huge to me. The other day I was just sitting in a hotel room and thinking that it was huge for me, as an openly Black gay boy. I’m very proud and excited and blessed that I was chosen.

V: While we talked a bit about “queer” becoming normalized, I’ve also noticed that some people have termed being “queer” as being a privilege. What are your thoughts on that?

SS: I don’t know how being queer can turn into a privilege, because we have to work extra hard. And I’ve had to work ten times harder than males and females to get where I’m at. I made sure I was always putting out music and working hard. Being queer and being in hip-hop is hard enough, so I don’t know how anyone can feel like being queer can be a privilege. We just are who are and we go through obstacles like anybody else, and we’re just great at overcoming them.

V: And where do you see yourself going with your career and your own personal journey?

SS: I see myself being a mega star, an influence, a mogul. So many great things, I don’t even have enough space in my head for the things that I know that I can do. I can keep rapping, I can act. There are so many things, the sky’s the limit for me.

V: What’s next for Saucy Santana? What can we expect?

SS: It’s gonna be a Saucy Santana summer, so there’s gonna be a whole lot of gags this summertime!

Credits: FASHION DIRECTION NICOLA FORMICHETTI, FASHION COORDINATOR HUNTER CLEM, STYLIST ASSISTANT COLE DIJIACT, HAIRSTYLIST IGGY ROSALES, MAKEUP ARTIST LISELOTTE VAN SAARLOOS, MAKEUP ARTIST ASSISTANT MILA KWAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JOHNNY PASCUCCI, SR. PRODUCER SARA BIELECKI, PRODUCTION COORDINATOR VICENTE LUNA, KEY PRODUCTION OMAR QUIROGA, SET DESIGNER ENOCH CHOI, SET DESIGNER ASSISTANT DEBORAH CHECK, DUST STUDIOS

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