Rapper Saweetie talks to us about growing up biracial, working with Fenty, and how she deals with haters
The phrase “high maintenance” can get a bad rap, but there’s a bossed-up rapper babe who’s redefining what that means. Saweetie started making waves with last year’s release of her single “ICY GRL.” Her debut EP, High Maintenance, gives a glimpse into the psyche and life of the talented young artist.
Saweetie is the perfect balance of glam and down-to-earth. The rapper’s philosophy is about looking and feeling good inside and out, and helping people, especially girls, to be their best, most icy selves. Saweetie has a new video out with fellow Bay area artist Kehlani (complete with puppies), a campaign with Fenty Beauty, an album in the works, and so much more.
We caught up with the Saweetie to chat about business, nails, food, and of course, music. After this convo, you’ll definitely feel inspired to be more high-maintenance AND icy.
HelloGiggles: Your brand has a strong nail theme running through it. What are the craziest nails you’ve ever had?
Saweetie: You know what girl, I’ve never had a crazy design, but I remember I cut up some money and asked them to put it on my nails, and they said that I could get in trouble for cutting up money. I was like 18 or 19 and I was always trying to have my nails different than everybody else’s and I was like, “let me just cut up some money.”
HG: You recently worked with Fenty Beauty. How did that come about and how was that experience?
Saweetie: One of my colleagues who I went to school with works for their marketing team. She pitched them “ICY GRL,” and they fell in love with it and felt like I’d be perfect for the brand. I absolutely love the foundation. It’s crazy how inexpensive it is for the quality of it. I love what they’re doing with Fenty Beauty.
HG: Do you have one high-end product and one accessible drugstore product that you love?
Saweetie: I would say something that’s very natural and inexpensive is coconut oil. I like to use that as my facial lotion. A more expensive product I’ve been using is rose water and rose oil. I’m a very oily person and for some reason it moisturizes, but my oil isn’t there. I absolutely love using rose-based products.
HG: Do you see yourself ever doing your own beauty brand?
Saweetie: Yeah, definitely. I’d love to do something with lip gloss. Girls are constantly asking me on my photos and my videos what lip gloss I’m wearing. I might be wearing some drugstore gloss for a dollar or Chanel gloss that’s $40. I feel like no matter how expensive or inexpensive a lip gloss is, they always look good on me. I like to make other girls feel how I feel, and I always feel good when I wear lip gloss.
HG: Do you have any business advice for young women?
Saweetie: Always know your business. I’m familiar with all my contracts, I know what kind of deal I’m in. I like reading things, I don’t just sign things without reading them. It’s important to be educated when you’re going forward with something. And don’t procrastinate because it could get sloppy!
HG: How did being biracial affect you growing up, or how does it affect you today?
Saweetie: I definitely felt out of place at times because the cultures that I was raised around were completely night and day. But I feel like those type of internal struggles help me understand people better, and I now know that not one set of people is the same. Like, my mom is of Filipino descent and my dad is of Black descent, so it allows me to be sensitive to other people’s cultures. Because sometimes people might not communicate or understand the things that I do. I might not understand what someone else is doing, but I’m always able to know that people come from different places and have different understandings.
HG:Who is your hip-hop or musical hero?
Saweetie: I really loved J. Cole growing up. Not only was he a rapper, but he was a student and he also majored in communication. I thought that was super dope. I really loved his mixtapes, Friday Night Lights and The Warm Up. Those are my all-time faves. He’s someone I definitely looked up to. Taking his music with me has always motivated me to keep writing, to keep going.
HG: Is there a person that you look up to who’s not a musician?
Saweetie: Definitely my grandma. She’s such a hustler but she’s so poppin’! She’s an older woman and she maintains her style, her beauty, her hygiene. She always smells good, she always gets her hair and her nails done. It makes me want to be bossed-up and fly too. I definitely get my bossed-up mentality from my grandma.
HG: What’s your dream collaboration, maybe with a designer or another musician?
Saweetie: As far as designer, I definitely would want to collaborate with Chanel. As a little girl, I’d always wanted a Chanel bag, so when I finally got some money that’s the first thing I bought. It’s classy and elegant, but it’s still sexy. That’s what I love about their brand. As far as musician, of course, Rihanna. She’s just amazing. I love her vibe and I’d love to get some gems from her because she’s an artist that’s so prominent. Her longevity just keeps going. I also love that she’s able to recreate herself with each album.
HG: You’ve mentioned that your faith and your gratitude have gotten you through a lot of your struggles. How does your spiritual practice fit into your day-to-day?
Saweetie: I’m constantly praying. I feel like prayer is important. It grounds you, it’s a time of reflection. I talk about that in “ICY GRL, the Bae Mix” with Kehlani. I said, “My prayers went up and my blessings came down, thankin’ God every day that your girl above ground.” It’s a great time for reflection, to just be grateful, because life — especially in the music industry — is so fast. I love to pray because it just grounds my mind.
HG: How did you end up working with Kehlani?
Saweetie: She posted something on her Insta story and people were going crazy because she was singing “ICY GRL.” It was so cool that she knew my song. We were actually trying to find someone for the remix. She ended up doing it and I absolutely love her verse. I love the video, it’s so fashion-forward and fly, and we’re both from the Bay Area so I think it was a great collaboration.
HG: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t making music?
Saweetie: There’s two things, and it’s like two different sides of the spectrum. I’d either be in politics or I’d be a poppin’ esthetician. I would be doing something with beauty. I love debating, I love business, that’s why I would pick politics. And I love making other girls look good. In college, I would help my girls pick out their outfits for their dates and help them do their makeup.
HG: What is the biggest adjustment you’ve had to deal with since getting famous? How do you deal with haters?
Saweetie: I block them. [Laughs] I really just don’t have time to argue with people. And everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. It’s a choice to put negativity on my page, and I already have to deal with that in real life. If I can block you online, I’m gonna block you.
HG:What is your self care routine?
Saweetie: My self-care is eating good because I think you are what you eat. I was eating a lot of processed food, a lot of candy, and it just wasn’t making me feel good. My body is high-maintenance and I like organic food. I take a shot of turmeric with some green juice every morning. I have energy, I don’t get tired, I don’t have an attitude. My whole food intake and what I’ve been putting on my face and my hair has just shifted. It costs more, but our bodies aren’t robots. What we put in is what we are, so I’m trying to just have more of a healthy lifestyle.
HG: So is there a Saweetie cookbook coming out?
Saweetie: Girl, I don’t know about all that. I’m struggling with my organic recipes. I’m so basic right now — olive oil pasta with seasoning.
HG: Do you incorporate the food from the cultures you grew up in?
Saweetie: One dish that I consider healthy is sinigang. I feel like Filipino culture has a lot of options. There’s a lot of fruit and veggie-based dishes, and they’re easy to incorporate. I’m actually doing a Reebok campaign and they shot a short documentary on me where I’m cooking with my Filipino grandma.
HG: Is that the same grandma that’s bossed-up, or is that your other grandma?
Saweetie: It’s my other grandma, but she’s fly too.
HG: What’s coming up next for you?
Saweetie: I’m working on my album right now. Collaborating a lot with [producer duo] Stargate. I recently met David Guetta and we did a little something so that’s in the works. I just want to keep growing, keep writing, and keep myself in the studio. I’m here for the long term. I constantly want to keep growing and keep making great music because that’s what’s going to give me longevity.