When it comes to today’s internet rap scene, one of two things can happen to your career: You can drop mediocre mixtapes on SoundCloud, resulting in a fan base of only your mom, dog, and best friend, or you can drop your debut single and go viral, landing a record deal. What are the chances of you blowing up? No one is sure. All we know is that for Bay Area rapper Saweetie, trash beats and subpar flows were not an option. She’s too icy. She also loves Chick-fil-A.
“Can I please get the grilled chicken with cheese? Fries and a Sprite? Oh, and three Chick-fil-A sauces,” Saweetie says over the phone while speaking with New Times last week. “I’m so sorry — I haven’t eaten all day.” Saweetie works hard. Since her track "Icy Grl" became a viral hit, she has signed to Warner Bros. Records and is one of the 12 women on this weekend's Rolling Loud lineup. “I’m excited to partner with Warner," Saweetie says. "I love working with people who believe in me and are passionate about my music.”
But being passionate isn’t always the only tool to success. Some artists have spent decades developing their careers. Saweetie credits her college degree, being prepared with a followup, and the internet for her success. “The internet gave me more opportunity, and I’m grateful," she says. "I didn’t always have access to the studio because I was in school."
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Born Diamonté Harper, Saweetie has always found rap to be her grind. “I started rapping when I was 14,” she says. “I would listen to old-school beats, then write to them and then post them on Instagram.” After she graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in communications and business, she began concentrating on a rap career. “Before even going to a record label, my project was 80 percent finished,” she says. She was sitting on more than ten original tracks, and the success of the internet allowed her to distribute music before a label gave her an extra push.
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That push landed her in the stereotypical realm of the “female rapper.” It’s easy to lump her in with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, but Saweetie’s college degree and high-maintenance looks bring more to the table than bubblegum rap and a sleek ponytail. “Going to college allowed me to share a different perspective,” Saweetie says. Though her freestyles are quite braggadocious, she comes from the struggle of being a college student and writes from that hustle. “I wanted to finish [school] because I don’t quit shit. I motivate women in my career.”
Her career is just getting started. From delivering whimsical bars live from the driver’s seat to releasing her debut EP, High Maintenance, Saweetie still has more to offer. The nine-track project is described as a low-stakes but gratifying listen. It fills the space between an ordinary slick-tongued female rapper and bouncy, relatable, witty bars. Saweetie plans to bring the same energy to her Rolling Loud set next weekend. “You can expect a couple of features dropping, some dancing, and me being high maintenance, of course."