Saweetie's not going anywhere anytime soon.
“All this fame is overwhelming for me and I get anxiety sometimes.”
These aren’t necessarily the words you’d expect to hear come out of the mouth of the head ICY GRL in charge, but such are the validated sentiments that come with the territory where newfound stardom is involved and in the case of Saweetie, all signs point to a major surge in that aforementioned fame on the horizon.
I’m quite certain that my first reaction to Saweetie's “ICY GRL” freestyle was not unique: one of complete captivation by the well-groomed and self-assured figure giving me all the 2018 Khia vibes through my computer screen. One year later, nearly 60 million YouTube streams tell me that I was on the right track and a brief conversation with the budding emcee only confirmed that Saweetie is definitely onto something.
There are a few of us who recall the pre-“ICY GRL” Saweetie, garnering attention for her traffic-stopping fits paired with formidable bars by way of Instagram freestyles. That it would all lead down a road of superstardom was a faint and unspoken notion, even for her.
“For a while, I didn’t believe in myself,” she admits, while we're having a quick chat following her performance at this year’s A3C festival. She’s the last act to go on before Trina eventually headlines the stage, and a crowd that almost fills up the 1300 standing capacity of Atlanta’s Freight Depot venue, nearly 2,500 miles away from home, is indicative of just how powerful the mind can be when it’s tuned in.
“When I was thinking about what I wanted to do in life, everything led back to music,” Saweetie continues. “So, I was like, fuck it. If they like it, they like it. But, I’m going to give it at least 100 percent. It’s like a bad relationship. You got to give it your all and if it doesn’t work out, move on. Fortunately for me, it has worked.”
Since shifting the focus on her music, Saweetie has gone on to earn a gold-certified single in “ICY GRL,” launched her own label of the same name in collaboration with Artistry Worldwide and Warner Music group, and dropped off her debut High Maintenance EP all in less than a year. With every new accomplishment, the Elk Grove-bred emcee has solidified her stake as a one-to-watch in the newest class of women collectively breathing new life into the narrative of the “femcee.”
With this new class, however, comes the question of credibility in the face of social media’s part in Saweetie’s rise to fame. It’s a twisted reality in which the very medium that propels you to stardom can, in turn, be used to poke holes in one’s advancements. But, for Saweetie, the answer to the noise is quite simple: “My talent got me those followers.”
“I didn’t start to accumulate an abundance of followers until I started posting my rap videos,” she adds. “I hear the comments. […] it just so happens with social media that you blow up quicker than what you expect. “
For Saweetie, consistency has been the name of the game. The "overnight success" has actually been nearly half a decade in the making, with plenty of video evidence to back it up, including an instance in which Saweetie camped out in a parking lot following a J. Cole performance for a chance to rap for Sideline Story-era Jermaine.
The clip, paired with her various other freestyles over the years certainly highlights the progression in Saweetie’s skills over time. Yet, no amount of enviable co-signs and Fashion Week stints has proven to differentiate Saweetie from that same college student who diligently waited for a chance to spit a few bars for her favorite rapper.
“I didn’t realize at first. But the bigger I get, the more important I feel that it is for me to identify with my roots,” Saweetie tells me.
Perhaps in way to hold tight to that influence and the virtue of a homegrown sound, Saweetie continues to put on for the place that birthed her, with Bay Area soundscape laced throughout her catalog, namely selections like her “High Maintenance” title track and her most recent G-Eazy and Rich the Kid collab “Up Now.” Even in her performances, traces of the Hyphy movement dominate her sets and dance routines.
“I love the Bay area. It made me who I am today. So, it’s important for people to know or at least recognize a little piece of me. If nothing, I’m from the Bay.” The month of October officially marks the one year anniversary of the debut of "ICY GRL," and whether you have Saweetie’s music on repeat or not, this kind of growth can’t be overlooked.
“What people don’t realize is that I’m growing in real time,” the 25-year old adds. “I’m literally learning everything with every step. I hear what they’re saying, but give me time to work because I’m working toward something greater than what I am right now.”