Drilling her way onto rap’s radar with an impressive remix of Nicki Minaj’s “Chiraq,” Dreezy, the Chicago singer-songwriter born Seandrea Sledge, settles into the game with her debut album No Hard Feelings. On the 19-track LP — featuring radio-ready hits (“Body” featuring Jeremih), melodic tunes (“Close To You”) and lit sixteens (“Spazz”), the 22-year-old Interscope signee evolves from the bar-spitter fans love to a genre-fusing MC. “I never really considered myself a singer until the “Body” record dropped,” she tells Billboard. “Now that I’ve done a full R&B song, I can officially say I’m a full artist.”
Like many blossoming artists, her singing voice and rap style have drawn early comparisons to other chart-toppers. Peep any interview, though, and Dreezy quickly (and respectfully) quiets comparisons to Dej Loaf and Minaj. Instead, she’s determined to etch her own name on the rap wall of fame. Take, for instance, her VH1 Hip Hop Honors appearance. What was poised to become just another tribute to the queenly lineup turned into a night she feels was divine confirmation that her future on the mic will be bright.
“I thought I was just coming to do the Salt-N-Pepa tribute, and when I got there, they were honoring all the females in hip-hop,” she says. “It was good seeing Lil Kim again and she recognized me. We went out to eat and stuff. It was crazy meeting Missy Elliott and Eve for the first time. They knew who I was and they’ve been peeping my name, seeing what I got going on. They love seeing that I’m just out here doing my thing. It let me know I’m in the right place. I couldn’t be anywhere more perfect right now.”
From 2014’s Schizo to No Hard Feelings, your growth as an artist is evident. How did you mature as a woman and an artist during this album?
With me moving [to L.A. from Chicago] and being out of my comfort zone, being away from the boyfriend that I used to have, that isolation gave me a path to learn about myself, and get a chance to know and value myself. I realized that I wanted all this company around me and it wasn’t necessarily good company. Some people were giving me fake love, showing support but really hating on me like my my relationship. I was with a guy but he was hating because I was getting so much attention. All that stuff just drains you and weighs you down, and I just had to cut people off. It wasn’t no grudges behind it. It was just a lesson learned and I kept it pushing.
What song do you feel is the best example of your growth as an artist?
“Break The News” was really different. I had to take my time trying to sing the notes right and just try to get everything to sound good.
I imagine it’s hard to choose which songs make the album while dropping mixtapes. How do you decide?
I go in and the goal is just to make a good song, and we let ‘em pile up. I never really know until a song is done but if it feels good and everybody in the room agrees like, “Yeah, this is the one,” we’ll put it to the side for the album.
Glad you kept the Gucci Mane record, “We Gon Ride” for Feelings. How’d you link up with him?
Just by knowing the right people, we were able to get the track to him. The track was already done. We sent it to him and he was like, “Man, I’m finna go crazy on the record.” And that’s exactly what he did. He sent it back within a week.
Did he give you any advice on being a new artist?
Not really advice. He was just telling me how he rock with my music and seen my song with 21 Savage [“Motorcycle”]. We just shot the “We Gon Ride” video so we got to kick it. He did the treatment and picked the jewelry store where we shot it at. I was like, “Is this your favorite jewelry store?” and he was like, “Hell nah. I’ll buy this jewelry store.” [Laughs] It felt good. That was one of the best days I had in Atlanta.
Any more Gucci collabs coming in the future?
I told him we gotta do another one and he just said to let him know. We’ll see.
Besides Gucci, you’ve worked with an impressive list of artists and producers. Who’s still on your wish list?
I definitely want to do something with Mike Will Made-It. I want a Kanye West beat. I’m far from finished on the producer tip and especially the artists, too. I wanna do a song with [Lil’] Wayne, J. Cole, Kanye, Drake, Nicki. I just wanna get out here. I’m here to stay so I wanna make my name known.
The popularity of album skits is making a strong comeback, and I see you dabbled with that here. Why did you decide to go that route?
Shout out to my A&Rs! They wanted me to do some skits but I didn’t know what to do it for. When we started piecing [the album] together, I noticed that they lowkey had a storyline to them. I just had to get the perfect name for it, and I felt like No Hard Feelings was it. ‘Cause they were going so hard for Tough Love [as an album title]. I liked that too but it already sounded like an R&B album and I didn’t want it to be too mushy. I wanted it to be some cocky type stuff.
The vibe is very cocky, especially on the song “Bad Bitch,” where you spit, “Your fave rapper should be acting ’cause she don’t even write.” What’s your opinion on songwriting and ghostwriting?
I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as it ain’t getting taken advantage of. I’ve heard stories of writers being invited to work with an artist and the artist never shows up so it’s just them in there making a whole song for the artist. I don’t know what that is but I’ve been in sessions where I work with writers. I like to be in there to tell them my vibe, then I’ll fix words and help come up with the lines with them. It’s just a group effort. If you got two writers in the room, you can come out with a hit so it ain’t nothing wrong with it. It’s a lot of people out here who make music and can’t get on because they don’t look the part or people don’t accept it, but they’re some dope writers, so how do they get their music out? They gotta write for somebody else.
What’s your songwriting process like?
On Schizo, a lot of them were poems. I wrote to no beat, no nothing. I was just writing. I got with my producer and he built a beat around it. But since being signed to the label and working with so many different producers, sometimes I just go in and try to catch a vibe. I’ll come up with a little concept before I go in so I know the direction, then I mumble out melodies and flows then write.
Dropping ‘tapes seems like a bit more of a relaxed process. How was it adjusting to the pace of making an album?
It’s been almost two years since I’ve been signed to Interscope, so I feel like we had a little time. I spent a lot of time experimenting on different sounds. It’s a lot that goes into signing a new artist so I just went in and did what I do best. I felt the beat and poured my heart out on the track.
You’ve mentioned that Interscope’s President of Urban Music Joie Manda signed you with the intentions of making you the next big female rapper. With the response to the album, do you feel that’s something you can achieve?
I really do. I’m making a lot of noise out here right now as a female by myself with no co-sign. We really building it from the ground up and we just getting started. We haven’t even started all the way yet. I really just wanna dig into this album and push it as far as it can go. And on top of that, I’m already thirsty for my next project. I’ve done the R&B joint and now I’m ready to get some bars off. I just wanna go crazy.