Saweetie Gears Up For Her Ultimate Takeover

Get ready: The rap star teases her new music, fashion line and even a new TV show

While most of us can’t wait for 2020 to finally end, Saweetie’s just getting warmed up. With a new album, fashion collaboration, and even TV show in the works, the multi-hyphenate artist is taking the hip-hop world by storm – and might just snag that “Queen of Rap” title while she’s at it.

Saweetie (born Diamonté Harper) has come a long way from her social media rapping days, but she’s stayed true to her Bay Area roots and nineties-inspired raps. After graduating from the University of Southern California, a range of Instagram rapping videos led to uploading her first hit single “ICY GRL” on SoundCloud. The music video now boasts over 108 million views on Youtube and stands proudly alongside an unforgettable list of tracks, from “My Type,” which peaked at #21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, to her summer smash hit, “Tap In.” 

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Her first full-length album – slated to drop early next year – comes at just the right time for the self-proclaimed perfectionist, showing her evolution as an artist and songwriter. “I think I’m just super self-motivated, and I always want to be the best that I can be,” she said. “I’m really excited because I spent a lot of time perfecting and redoing each one of the songs.”

The album, titled Pretty Bitch Music, encompasses Saweetie’s iconic “Icy Girl” attitude – a combination of confidence, independence and success – that’s ingrained in every part of her music. The rapper knows how to put her own twist on words, and “bitch” in the title is no exception.

“Bitch means boss, it means independent, tough, creative. I’m from The Bay, so the H means ‘hyphy,’” she said. “I feel like all of those adjectives are found in every one of the songs and are on-brand for what I stand for.”

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Her love for “playing dress-up” has made Saweetie into a global muse in the fashion world, and an upcoming clothing capsule will soon mark her third project in the industry. Last year, her Pretty Little Thing x Saweetie collection debuted at New York Fashion Week, featuring artists like Lil’ Kim, Ashanti and Saweetie’s boyfriend, Quavo of the rap trio Migos (who briefly interrupted our interview to say a sweet goodbye to his girlfriend). Her most recent collection with PLT dropped in June, with the rapper and the fashion brand pledging to donate 100 percent of proceeds to Black Lives Matter.

Saweetie’s steady list of accomplishments and ultra-glamorous lifestyle is well documented in her “The Icy Life” series on Youtube, raking up over 6.2 million views so far and currently in the works to become her own reality television series in the near future.

Fresh off the release of her latest single “Back To The Streets” featuring Jhené Aiko, the rapper caught up with V and opened up about her new music, empowering fans and what her new projects mean for her soaring career.

V MAGAZINE Before we talk about your new music and upcoming album, what have you been up to during quarantine?

SAWEETIE Well, I’ve been working on the music and on the third capsule with a fashion partnership. Another hobby that I’ve picked up, interestingly, is painting. I’m really excited about that. I’ve been painting with acrylic because oil is a little hard, so I’m starting with the easier stuff.

V You’ve accomplished a lot in the past few years, what has that rise to fame been like for you?

S It’s very difficult for me because I was a regular citizen for a long time. I went to college for five years, graduated and was just a broke college grad for about two years, and then finally made it. I like doing a lot of things [on my own] like eating by myself at restaurants and going to the movies, but people started to notice me. I wasn’t raised in fame, so I didn’t know how to adjust. But now that I’m adjusting, there are some cool parts to it. 

V Was there a defining moment in your career where you realized that you’re making a name for yourself in the industry? 

S I think when I first hit the Billboard charts with “My Type.” I was really impressed and just proud of that moment. Starting from SoundCloud to Youtube and Instagram and then hitting the Billboard charts was just a great way to pat myself on the back.

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V On Twitter, you’ve been retweeting people “tapping in” with selfies. Where did that stem from and what does it mean for you?

S I love to uplift my fans. They come in all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and they’re all really unique to me. When I see them “tapping in” from different areas of the world, especially outside of America, I’m like, wow, I can’t believe my music is reaching that far. I like to uplift them because they uplift me every day, and the “pretty-girl tap in” was just a way to create a thread of all different types of women because pretty comes in all shapes and sizes and looks. 

V As a female rapper, do you feel like there are certain misconceptions or expectations of you that make it hard to be a woman in the industry?

S Yeah, I feel like they try to put [female rappers] into a box of what we can and can’t talk about, and how we should dress. But I think what’s so great about my “Icy” brand is that there are so many different layers to me. I’m a woman, I’m a college grad, I’m a rapper, I’m a daughter, I’m a fashionista. I don’t have just one box that I can fit into.

V Your forthcoming album is called Pretty Bitch Music, what inspired that title?

S My fans tell me that I make them feel pretty, confident, and I make them want to get to the bag. I make pretty bitch music because, for me, pretty is more than face value. It’s your energy, your confidence and your uniqueness.

V What can we expect from your new music? 

S I normally do only like seven tracks on an EP, but this is going to be 15 or more. So I’m really excited for the extended catalog that I’ll have. There’ll be more features. I don’t normally do them – I’m stingy with my music – but I think it’s time to expand my collaborations. 

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V How is the music on this album different from what we saw on your EPs, High Maintenance and Icy? 

S My first two EPs were great bodies of work, but I don’t think they were able to grasp my personality. There are a lot of things about me that I struggle to get across in my songs as far as self-expression. For this album, I wanted to make sure I loved each and every one of the songs, and it inspired me to want to be better and beat my first two bodies of work.

V We get a glimpse into your life through “The Icy Life” videos on YouTube. What made you want to document your day-to-day like that? 

S I’ve been given TV offers, but I didn’t feel like they were on-brand – there was always a twist. I wanted to start my own series because I could definitely see it getting picked up and being something on my own terms, like Kimora, Life in the Fab Lane. This is my way of showing that it’d be interesting without all the extra drama. I’m actually getting looked at by a couple of networks right now, so “The Icy Life” should be on TV if not this year then next year. 

V You’ve also worked with Pretty Little Thing a few times so far. Do you plan on doing any partnerships like that again when Fashion Week comes back, even digitally? 

S Definitely. I was one of the only artists to have a fashion show, so I had a lot of great influencers and celebrities in the building who came and showed love. I was grateful that they came by because Pretty Little Thing and I worked really hard on it. I’m an in-person type of girl – I want people to come feel, sit, smell what’s going on in the room. If [a digital show] is what it came to, I’d be down for that, but I’m definitely looking forward to an in-person fashion show. 

V What inspires your fashion sense? 

S That’s something that I’ve been trying to figure out in quarantine, what is Saweetie’s style? Coming up with that signature is always important. I’m trying to figure out what makes the “Icy” brand and the Saweetie girl different. I love playing dress-up and I’ve been trying to do a lot of research on super up-and-coming designers. I love showing love to people who are up-and-coming because I know what it feels like to be in that position.

Listen to Saweetie’s new single “Back to the Streets” below:

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