In 2017, rapper Saweetie had her breakout moment with the track “ICY GRL,” a cocky freestyle over the beat of Khia’s “My Neck My Back.” Quelling any notions of being a one-hit wonder, Saweetie scored another viral hit with 2019’s undeniable song of the summer, “My Type,” an anthem of particular preferences rapped to the tune of Petey Pablo’s “Freek-a-Leek.”
But even with two platinum hits, two well-received EPs, racking up more than 1 billion streams, and blipping on everyone’s radar as the one to watch, Saweetie didn’t feel successful.
“I’m always keeping the big picture,” Saweetie says in the latest episode of Fast Company‘s podcast Creative Conversation. “I’m always setting goals for myself. I feel like I will be able to grasp a feeling of success after this body of work.”
Saweetie is talking about her upcoming debut full-length album, Pretty Bitch Music.
Keeping in line with her penchant for rapping over familiar beats, Saweetie’s lead single “Tap In” leans into her Bay Area roots by sampling Too Short’s classic “Blow the Whistle.”
However, Saweetie makes clear that she’s not relying on a gimmick, as some of her critics have suggested.
“My specialty is able to have an ear for a beat that would sound good if I flipped it or if I sampled it,” she says. “Hip-hop is built on samples.”
But in case people still had doubts, Saweetie intentionally released “Pretty Bitch Freestyle” right after “Tap In.”
“I’m going to cater to both audiences. I’m going to cater to the radio, because shout out to them. They helped with the career of creating a megastar,” Saweetie says. “And I’m going to also cater to my day-one fans who fell in love with me for just going over a beat, just straight bars, no hook, no bridges.”
For Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music is both a full-circle moment and her finally stepping into hip-hop the way she wants to be seen.
“The world will get a better grasp of me as a woman, a human, and an artist when they hear this body of work,” she says.
In this conversation, Saweetie explains the deeper meaning behind her project and its title, her rather scholarly approach to writing rhymes, how she’s breaking down misconceptions of what it means to be a woman (let alone a woman who raps), and more.
Listen to the episode below (or wherever you get your podcasts) and read some highlights below.
That’s B.I.T.C.H. to you
“It took me a while to say ‘bitch’ only because I grew up such a tomboy. Some of my home girls in first and second grade were calling themselves bad bitches. I didn’t, because I grew up with a whole bunch of men. While I never looked down on that, I just never said it out my mouth. But as I got older, as I began to create music, I was like, ‘Okay, bitch is something that you throw around in songs.’ When I create these songs, I want my fans to know when I’m saying bitch, this is what it means, because it has a acronym associated with it: It means ‘boss,’ ‘independent,’ ‘tough,’ ‘CEO,’ and for the people who are not tapped into the West Coast, ‘hyphy’ the H word in BITCH, it means turning up and having a good time.”
Rap Lit. 101
“I write down topics I want to touch on. I have premises for the song. I have a list of things I want to talk about, and then I expand with the bars that support it. It’s college stuff—I’m sorry! Each paragraph has a premise and then you have the facts and the evidence to support it. I have a short attention span, and I can go from being inspirational to twerking that ass real quick. So I got to give myself some guidelines!”
Looking at the bigger picture behind backlash
“I remember when I came out with ‘YUSO,’ it broke the internet in a bad way. It was like, ‘Saweetie is so educated. Saweetie is the girl next door. Saweetie is X, Y, and Z. Why is she rapping so nasty?’
“I always tell myself, ‘If I’m going to be nasty, I’m going to be nasty like Missy [Elliott.] It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be creative. And it’s going to make you laugh.’ I did my due diligence to make sure that I was staying true to myself, but I got a lot of backlash. Instead of being discouraged, I felt motivated because I don’t feel like I’m the only woman that feels like this. Like I said, I have a lot of layers to me. I came here for a purpose. I always felt like the purpose of me even being here was to have a voice. I think that it supersedes and it goes beyond just music.”