Photo: Recording Academy
Saweetie Talks Debut Album, Aaliyah, Beyoncé & More | Up Close & Personal
If you got down to "My Type" last year, you already have a taste of who rising West Coast rapper Saweetie is. The stylish 26-year-old, born Diamonté Harper in Hayward, Calif., has been on a steady rise since the viral success of "ICY GRL" (which samples Khia's "My Neck, My Back") in 2017.
With several buzzy rap hits, countless confident bars and two EPs under her belt, as well as a busy 2020 tour schedule ahead, Saweetie is ready to shake up the hip-hop world with her icy swag and heavy-hitting bars. She is also expected to release her anticipated debut album this year, with a bigger taste of her bold sound and style.
The "My Type" rapper recently stopped by the Recording Academy headquarters for our latest episode of Up Close & Personal to talk about her breakout hits, what we can anticipate on her first full-length, her biggest influences and more. You can watch part of the conversation above and read the full interview below. You can also visit on our YouTube page for a longer version of the video, as well as for other recent episodes.
On "My Type," you served up a fresh 2019 sample of Petey Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek," which is amazing. Can you explain where the inspiration began?
What's funny about "My Type" is, its actually the last song I added to the EP and it's the song that did the best. But it was just that my EP was missing something and I wanted something that got me excited as a little girl. When I was little, me and my cousins would listen to "Freek-A-Leek." I mean we didn't know what he was talking about, but we really loved the song. So just taking that, flipping it and then making it my own hit, feels amazing.
The "My Type" music video was shot in the Bay Area, where you grew up. Was filming it there as much fun as it looked?
Definitely, it was. I went home on purpose because my family and my friends are out there. I wanted to basically do everything that I did as a little kid, but as an adult. The barbecue picnic, the side show, the basketball court, those are all moments from my childhood that I revisited. And even my hairstyles were stuff that I would've worn as a little kid.
And how do you feel that growing up in the Bay influenced your music and style?
In the Bay Area, we're very strong on uniqueness. By telling my story and really just being fly; we're very fly, down to earth individuals and when you go to the Bay Area you feel that. The girls out there are pretty but they're doing a thiz face. We've got a whole bunch of swag and a whole bunch of personality.
Looking through your IG, you're rocking killer looks all the time. How would you describe your style?
Thank you. I would describe my style as not being able to describe it, only because it really just depends on my mood. If you go through the performance outfits or a day to day outfit, everything is just based on how I feel then. I like to make my outfits custom a lot. Many of the fan favorites are things that came from my imagination; I collaborate with my stylist and we bring it to life.
Yes! Playing dress-up every day.
Girl, playing dress-up every day. I love to do that.
I heard you're working on a new album. What's your biggest hope and excitement for this project?
My excitement with this project is, with any project, we're starting from scratch, and I feel like through trial and error and through just recording a lot, I'm able to feel like what kind of direction I really want to go in for my sound. Because I'm still a developing artist, but for this time around, I really want to focus on the artistry and the instruments and really creating from scratch.
And then back in 2017 when you uploaded "ICY GRL" to SoundCloud, did you ever imagine it would take off the way that it did?
I didn't imagine "ICY GRL" taking off. It kind of felt like a great mistake, in the sense that I didn't expect for it to be a song. It was one of the raps that I was just rapping in my car and my manager was like, you need to record this. And I want to say within a week of uploading it, every major hip-hop blog and website picked it up and featured me as upcoming, poppin'. "ICY GRL" was a viral sensation. So it was great to just see it take a take a turn for the best.
Was there a moment when you decided or even dreamed that you would pursue a career in hip-hop?
Definitely. When I was 14 I realized that music is what I wanted to do. I always had dreams of being a musician when I was a little girl. When I was a little I was really into Aaliyah, Ashanti, the R&B girls, but I couldn't sing like that. And when I was 14 I realized that I could rap.
What was the first CD you ever bought? And the first concert you ever went to?
Okay, so I think the first CD that I asked my mom to buy was probably Aaliyah. Back in the day they had the special edition CDs with the music videos on it, so I would sit in front of the TV all day just trying to mimic Aaliyah's dance moves. I loved her so much.
And the first concert I ever went to was probably a Destiny's Child concert. It was so amazing. When I saw them perform I was like wow, this is what real artistry is.
Who are your biggest role models?
I feel like a great role model would be Beyoncé. I really love how she's sexy, she's classy, she's a businesswoman, she's a great performer. She's just a mogul that and she's self-made, and that's something that I strive to be. I feel like being an "Independent Woman"—which is her record with Destiny's Child—is extremely important. And that's what I strive to be. I have my own label, I have my own company, Icy. I have my own jewelry, I have my own beauty line and all of these things are doing really well. I'm about to start getting into acting and I feel like these are all the areas that she touched. So I feel like she's a great imprint for younger girls like me.