Dreezy Talks New Record 'Spar,' Race Issues in Music & Why Female MCs Can Still Dominate the Charts
For Chicago MC, Dreezy, her brash demeanor and hard-edged lyricism can easily pierce the soul of any opposition. Before the 23-year-old carved a niche as a promising lyricist in the hip-hop game, she caused tremors with her "Chiraq" freestyle in 2014. Listeners marveled at the Chicago star's abilities to pen punishing rhymes and tackle the trap-laden beat, especially after Nicki Minaj initially gave the track a full burial with her indelible bars.
While Dreezy (born Seandrea Sledge) can wow you with her punchline-heavy arsenal, it's her dulcet vocals that have caught the eyes and ears of mainstream. In 2016, she penciled a slew of radio-ready singles, including her T-Pain-assisted "Close to You" and "Body" featuring Jeremih, which amassed over 47 million views on YouTube. After releasing a strong debut album with No Hard Feelings, Dreezy dropped jaws when she sacked President Trump with her politically-charged track, "Spar," last October.
"Spar," featuring 6LACK and Kodak Black, finds Dreezy ruminating about the struggles endured by African Americans on the daily. In addition to that, the threesome consisting of Dreezy, 6LACK, and Kodak reveled at their demolition of Pres. Trump, as they battered the Commander-in-Chief for what they say is his woeful performance in office thus far. With a huge chip on her shoulder, and desire to sit among the winner's circle in hip-hop, Dreezy is ready to take control of her career for the better.
Billboard sat down with Dreezy to speak on her controversial record "Spar," attaining success as a female MC, race issues in music, and how the city of Chicago groomed her into being the woman that she is today.
Let's get right into it. What triggered you to come up with the record "Spar" and go after President Trump?
I mean, if you follow me, like my fans and stuff, you'll see that I do a lot of tweeting out and re-tweeting and keeping my followers aware of what's going on. Even if I'm not saying my side on it, I'm just putting it out there. So, it was about time. Just right now, I feel like it needed to be talked about more than anything. We gotta start using our platforms to talk about what's really going on and get the message out.
So, yeah, the track was just perfect. Me and 6LACK had gone on tour, so he definitely had the vibe I thought. Everything was just perfect. Kodak was able to talk about the stuff that he's going through, I got to voice my opinion on things, and it just happened.
I don't think there's any other female rapper that went at him the way you did on that track. Was that your intent going into the record since not a lot of female MCs have attacked him on that kind of platform?
It wasn't necessarily to come at him, but it ended up turning into that. It was just to speak on everything that's going on. I talked more than just about Trump, I talked about the police, I talked about people in the offices, and how cultural appropriation is going on. I'm just talking about everything for my people and for myself. I was just airing some stuff.
Chicago has a ton of talent right now with Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Mick Jenkins and G-Herbo. What do you feel you bring to the table being that you're also from the city, as far as your skill-set is concerned, since you're pretty versatile.
Thank you. That's definitely the one thing that I'm trying to do and that's remain versatile. You got a lot of rappers who have a real specialty and a certain kind of sound and I'm just trying to master all of the sounds as far as R&B and rapping. Just because I'm a female, I feel like I can play with both parts, so I'm just trying to do as much as I can and I feel like from a female point of view, I speak to a lot of the girls in Chicago and around the world about what I'm going through.
Since you sing and rap, which do you feel you're more underrated in?
[Laughs] I'd say my rapping, definitely.
Why is that?
Because I've been rapping for so long and it's like as soon as I did the singing record, it popped off, you feel me? A lot of people gravitated towards that, but my day one fans really like my rap music and when I spit bars and stuff. So I feel like I don't wanna get to the point where I'm just pleasing everybody and fully singing, but I just think I have to fully figure out how to bring the rapping in and mixed it in with the singing songs so people can take it the same way.
Yeah, because you do have rap tracks like "Serena" and "Spaz," but also have singing records like "Body" with Jeremih. How do you try to balance that?
Honestly, that's the hardest part of my career right now, but it's a good challenge. It's like my craft, it's something that I'm working on. So, you know, it ain't like it's a stop in the road, but it's just something that I know when I master it, it's going to be everything. That's what I'm trying to master right now, the singing and the rapping.
As I mentioned with Chicago artists earlier, everybody has their own story and how the city molded them. How did the city mold you as a female MC, especially with you being from the Southside?
I feel like it molded me because, yeah I'm from the Southside, but just growing up, I was always writing about what was going on around me. And I didn't grow up strictly in the city. When I got to high school, me and my mama was having some problems at home and I ended up moving with my daddy. My daddy had built him a crib in the 'burbs in the South suburbs. So I feel like that's what molded me, being in the city for most of my life and then, at the last minute, having to change up and go to the 'burbs with my daddy.
That really changed my whole life around. It's like I got a real balance. I got that street mentality. Like, I know what's going on, I'm aware of what's going on. I'm not stupid, but at the same time, my daddy kind of re-routed my mind a little bit. Like, "Take that street smarts you know and turn it into business. Turn it into money and turn this into the real world and make a career for yourself." So, that's what I feel helped me through my music. It's like, I was always rapping, I was always signing, but I wasn't doing nothing with it. I didn't have no real career plan. I was going to college like everybody else, thinking I was finna do the whole school thing, and then, eventually, I said, "Fuck all of that. (Laughs)
A lot of African American female artists have admitted to struggling to find success in the music industry because of their complexion. Do you agree with that sentiment with you being brown skin?
50/50. Like, half of me be like that's not really an excuse, you know what I'm saying? Because I feel like I'm gonna pop off regardless. I might not have done it yet, but it's gonna happen. The other 50%, you look at the top females in the industry and you don't see too many dark skin [women]. You know, the last one would probably be Foxy Brown.
With Cardi B recently going No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, do you think that gives female MCs more hope in terms of being able to notch such a feat, especially in a male-dominated industry?
I mean, Cardi didn't have to go to No. 1 for me to think we had a chance. She's just is an example that we have a chance, but we've been have a chance. We always have a chance. It's not like, "No we don't have a chance." No, we have every opportunity to be in the music industry just as much as these n----as. It's just that you gotta finesse the game. You see Nicki Minaj did it. All it take is one person to do it for it to become possible. It's not too far-fetched to me.
I say that because she was the first female MC since Lauryn Hill to accomplish that feat and that was almost 20 years ago.
And you know what that tells you, that should tell you about consumers 'cause Nicki Minaj definitely deserved a No. 1 record. Even with the Cardi record, the record was big as fuck, the record was hard, but when the record was going No. 1, it was still gold. So people weren't buying it for real. So the fan-base came together to support the music. That actually needs to be done for everybody. Actually purchase the music. If you wanna see your artists succeed and be as great as they wanna be, you have to buy it.
People think we're just artists and we make music so many other ways that we don't have to buy the music, but that's the way you make your money, that's the way you put numbers on the board and get sales. So that's what just tells you about the consumers from then and now. All these years that been passing, people haven't been buying music. Back then, you had to buy the music. There wasn't no Internet.
You had to get the CD, you had to support it. It was physical support. So I think the consumers are really supporting what she's doing and they need to get back to buying the music so that we can put some real numbers on the board 'cause all the other cultures are going No. 1 with their records and it's because people are buying the music.
Have you been able to finally snag that Lil Wayne feature?
Wayne, you know he played me. When was that? SXSW. He had a concert and I'm like, "Ok, I finna get up with Wayne because my road manager works on the road with him. I saw him and I don't be wanting to be thirsty, so I was waiting to say something. I done said something to him before, but he probably don't remember and it's crazy because when I was saying something to him, I was telling him, "Oh, I wanna be a female rapper. I'm trying to do this." This was when I wasn't shit.
So now, I feel like he might of heard my music, but it was like right when I was walking up to him, the fans started coming. So I was like, "I'll let y'all get your pictures," and as soon as he was done with the pictures, he walked straight off. I was like, "What the fuck?" I'm not gonna chase that man (Laughs). So hopefully, we'll get into it real soon, but it's like everytime I get up with him, he gotta go or he's into something.
Yeah, because I know that would be a dream record for you.
Yeah, that would be crazy. I could probably stop rapping after that and be like, "Yeah, y'all got this record. I know you hear it, but you'll need to play it back so you can see who's on the record or whatever." (Laughs).
I know poetry was really big for you growing up. Do you still manage to have time to squeeze in some poems, even though you're focused on the music aspect of your life?
You know, I be thinking that I do wanna get back to this [kind of] writing for myself and stuff like that. I don't know. My rap music is my new poetry. So, whenever I get time to write, that's cool, but I do wanna fit in some time everyday and write. It be a lot going on, though. But when I go to the studio, I'm zoned out.
What was the last poem you wrote?
Poem? I don't know. Like, sometimes, lines might come to my head when I first wake up in the morning, or when I'm out during the day and I might jot some stuff down. And then, I'd write them as bars or just leave them alone. I got so many unfinished notes in my notebook that I just do throughout the day just to get it off.
No Hard Feelings came out a year ago. How do you feel you've evolved as an artist and as a woman?
You know, I feel like with my album, it was real controlled. I feel like I'm just coming into my own right now. I wasn't really sure about what was really going on. It's like when you go into a dance class or something and they trying to teach you a routine and it's like you don't really get the steps, but once you got it, you really hitting that shit? It took me like a year to [grasp that concept.] I was going into the studio, I was working, I was going to interviews, but I wasn't doing anything on the Internet.
I was just working, but there's ways that you gotta finess the industry now and it's all about the Internet, it's all about marketing, all about social media right now. So I feel like my growth since then has been just getting more business savvy, learning the game, definitely, and figuring out my sound. Now, I can listen back to the album and be like, "Ok. This is what you should have done." Even though it was real controlled, this next one, I'm really going to be hands on with everything.