In the midst of Bad Bunny’s chart domination and Beyoncé once again changing the game with her Renaissance album, 2022 has spawned many pivotal and memorable arcs in pop music. While it might not be quite on the level of visibility of those superstars, the mainstream rise of Saucy Santana is also definitely one of the most interesting of these arcs.
After earning an Internet-driven hit in 2019 with his debut single “Walk Em Like a Dog,” 2021 found the rapper exploding across social media, thanks to songs like “Here We Go,” “Walk,” and “Material Girl.” Just this month (Aug. 5), Madonna blessed “Material Girl” with a remix that fused Saucy’s track with Madonna’s 1984 Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 hit of the same name. Saucy’s “Material Girl” has collected 56.7 million on-demand official U.S. streams to date, according to Luminate.
At the top of 2022, Saucy Santana unleashed an infectious collaboration with City Girls called “Shisha,” which appeared on Keep It Playa, his debut studio album. Soon after, the Florida rapper unleashed the Latto-featuring “Booty” and was named MTV’s PUSH Artist for August.
Saucy Santana’s catalog has earned 188.4 million on-demand official U.S. streams in all. “Booty,” which he is set to perform at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards pre-show, has garnered 11.7 million on-demand official U.S. streams on its own.
Beloved for his music as well as his Instagram live sessions with Yung Miami and hilarious online persona, the Florida-bred rapper has quickly become one of the genre’s biggest new stars. And he’s done it all while remaining unapologetically gay, Black, femme, and fat.
As the new face of Sony’s Linkbuds S Truly Wireless Earbuds, Saucy Santana is continuing his ascension with ease. The star took some time to chat with Billboard about his new brand deal, upcoming music plans, and his late-night television debut.
What’s it like being the face of Sony’s new LinkBuds S Truly Wireless Earbuds? How did this collaboration happen?
It was actually really big for me. I just remember Sony being a big company ever since I was a kid. For them to just want me or even just trust me to be the face of their brand was a really big deal. It’s not something that you would just wake up and think, “Oh I’m Saucy Santana, I’m gonna do a commercial with Sony!” It was actually a really proud moment for me. They reached out to my team, and I know my record label is affiliated with Sony, so they just brought the idea to me. Of course, I was with it!
Why Linkbuds? What do you like about them?
I got familiar with them once I did the commercial and played with them all day. You can tap them and it’ll pause the music and go quiet. When you’re listening to them, it’s so funny — because that’s how I like to be in my car. I listen to music so loud that I don’t hear nothing else that’s going on. There’s a feature where it’s just like… a suffocation with the headphones; you don’t know nothing that’s going on besides what’s in those headphones. I really love that because of traveling. Sometimes, I keep seeing fans outside like “Hey! Hey! Hey,” but when I have those headphones in, I’m like “Oh, boo, I ain’t even hear you. I was lost in the headphones.”
That must be the 360 Reality Audio Feature — how does that audio difference benefit your music specifically?
Well, I know with me, I love to have a lot of bass. I like a lot of booms in my music. I think I’m known a lot for my beats. That’s how I fall in love with music, I fall in love with the beat. So, for me, I think the beat choices that I have go perfect with the audio of the headphones.
What’s next after “Booty?” Are there any new singles on the horizon?
That’s what I’m working so hard at right now. I’m just trying to come up with a song that me and my team like collectively, so that I can get the next single rolled out. We just gotta think of the right timing. I’m ready, of course. I’m just trying to figure out what sound I’m feeling. Some days I wake up and like trap music, some days I wake up and like house music, some days I wake up and like vogue music. So, I’m just trying to figure out what I want to give the people next.
I have New York Fashion Week coming up, and I have a lot of performances that have to do with fashion week. So, I’m kinda in my head like “Should I do something that’s gonna do good for Fashion Week?” I’m just in my head a little bit right now.
How was shooting the “Booty” music video?
It was hot! It was hot, but it was fun just having a lot of my fans there. I specifically asked for a lot of plus-size boys. I feel like I’m in a place where I want to embrace my, what we call in our culture, fat femboys. Growing up being a gay boy and being fat and being feminine, I remember we used to have these dating sites and it’d say, “No fats, no femmes.” It was a big [thing] there where big gay boys were not accepted. That’s not what people desire, and that’s not what people wanted to see. And I came from that.
Now, I’m one of the pioneers of my culture and of gay rap. People think that gay looks like this, or gay looks like that, or this type of person is supposed to make it, or this type of person is appealing. Of course, I got surgery on my body and stuff, but before I was getting BBLs and all that, I was just a feminine fat boy rapping. I just want to embrace that and put that in the forefront.
You recently made your late-night television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Tell me a bit about that.
It was big! These are things that I asked for kinda early, like in 2013 when I first started rapping. I’m like, “Why I’m not on this? Why I’m not on Rolling Loud?” Just for all of this to come full circle is amazing. That was a whole other platform for me, introducing me to a different audience, it’s a really big deal. You see the greats on there. Meg Thee Stallion was just on there, my sister Latto was on there, I seen Gunna on there. A lot of big artists are on Jimmy Fallon, so that’s kind of like a big deal.
Do you have any other dream performance venues or spots that you want to hit in the coming years?
I want to do Jimmy Kimmel as well. I want to do these big festivals like Made in America. All of the hot spots that I seen when I first came into the industry. It’s like a pat on the back for me, sometimes, when I’m able to accomplish those things. With doing Sony and being in a commercial, I want to do more commercials and movies. Whether it’s rap, whether it’s acting, whether it’s endorsements, I just want to cover all fields. I look at like Cardi B and stuff — like, you know, Cardi B got No. 1 hits, hey, she’s in movies, she’s in commercials. I think she’s in a Pepsi commercial. I want that.
You’re absolutely going to get that. I mean, you have a song with the Madonna now! What did that collaboration (“MATERIAL GWORRLLLLLLLL!”) mean to you at this point in your career?
That’s like an iconic, monumental kind of thing. It’s just like, who got a song with Madonna?! The same day my song with Madonna came out, Madonna and Beyoncé released a song together (“Break My Soul (The Queens Remix)”). That’s how big that is. Beyoncé got a song with Madonna, and for me to have a song with Madonna… that’s just not normal. People don’t just wake up with a song with Madonna. For me to just be hand-chosen by Madonna makes it so much bigger.
You also recently appeared on Caresha Please and it was so beautiful to watch. I love your relationship with City Girls. Could we see another collaboration with them on the horizon?
Yeah, we like family, so definitely. It’ll be how it was with me and Latto. Me and Latto had a song early in my career, and it kind of missed its moment, but we swung back around to it. So, I definitely see another City Girls x Santana collab.
We need a sequel to “Shisha!”
That’s how everybody feels! “Shisha” was for our core fans. “Shisha” hit City Girls and Santana lovers. I feel like me and Latto’s first song, “Up And Down,” was for Santana and Latto lovers at the time. I feel like “Booty” was more elevated and reached more people. So, I hope to do the same thing with my next collab with City Girls.
What are your go-to songs on your playlist right now? And, in addition to “Booty,” what was your song of the summer?
The go-to song on my playlist right now is “Her” by Megan Thee Stallion. I love SleazyWorld, he got a song called “Step 1.” “Ms. Davis” by Gucci Mane. “First Impression” by Gucci Mane, Yung Miami, and Quavo. “Pussy” by Latto. And I like “Don’t Play With It” by Lola Brooke.
“Booty” is probably my song of the summer. The whole video aspect was fun. It just gave block party, it gave outside… “Booty” is so fun to me! Every time I hear “Booty,” I just want to dance. That’s what summer is about. You put on your short shorts, your crop top, and you just get out there.
What are your major goals for 2023? What are you most proud of this year?
This year, I’m just most proud of the stages that I’ve been on, and the opportunities that me and my team have created for myself. Going on tour with Lizzo starting in September, is really huge for me. I’m always setting goals to elevate, but I’ve never had anything specific because things are kind of spontaneous for me.
Literally, I’m in the house cleaning, and my texts me. My mom’s a pastor and she texts me and she’s like, “I see Hollywood roles and I see a TV premiere with you on it.” And I was like, “Oh my God, for real?” And she said she was talking to one of our other pastors. Just a few months ago, she called me and told me that one of our pastors asked if I knew Lizzo, and I was like “No, I don’t know Lizzo.” He was like — he seen me and Lizzo collaborate together. Then fast forward, I’m about to go on tour with her! The manifestation is so crazy and God is always working in my life. I just try to stay ready.