In the latest episode of Billboard‘s “Growing Up” series, Saweetie tells the story of how she found her voice and connects it to her roots.
The Bay Area-raised rapper (real name Diamonté Harper) tells Billboard how proud she is of her Black, Filipino and Chinese heritage. “I think it’s important — especially as American kids — really identify your roots, because I feel like they strip us away of so much pride, dignity and culture,” says Saweetie.
But she’s also proud to embrace the hip-hop genre, which she was first introduced to when her mother encouraged the then-6-year-old Saweetie to leave her father a voicemail, which she did to the tune of The Notorious B.I.G.’s 1996 hit “Hypnotize.” “Daddy, daddy, daddy, can’t you see/ Sometimes your words just hypnotize me,” the now-28-year-old MC sings.
But not everything her family said or made her do was music to her ears. The “My Type” rapper said her family is the type to roast each other and even gave her the nickname “Stuttering Stanley” because of her stuttering issue. “It affected my self-esteem as a speaker, which is why I decided to major in communication — to work on my speech,” she says. “I think it affected me negatively as a child, but it had a lot of positive outcome, especially just having to develop tougher skin. And I think tough skin is what allowed me to persevere in the music industry that has tried to put this glass ceiling on me, which I break every time.”
Saweetie has not only shattered those glass ceilings, but also shattered Billboard chart records. Her 2019 smash “My Type,” which samples Lil Jon’s production on Petey Bablo’s “Freek-a-Leek,” made Saweetie the seventh female rapper to reach the Billboard Hot 100 that year when it debuted at No. 81. Two years later, her single “Fast (Motion)” earned her her second No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Triller U.S. chart, the first No. 1 debut of 2021. And with “Best Friend,” featuring Doja Cat — which also hit No. 1 on Rap Digital Song Sales — Saweetie became the fifth female rapper to score three No. 1 hits on Rhythmic Airplay. But while facing adversity has led to so much success, she’s playing the long game and seeing how much further her career can take her beyond the music.
“I think it is crazy that I’ve experienced a lot of success without no album out,” she adds. “I think it just goes to show that my brand supersedes music and that I’m here for a long time and a good time.”
Pretty B—- Music, her highly anticipated debut LP, is still not out, and she told Billboard on the red carpet at the 2021 BET Awards that meeting Cher made her realize she needed to push back the release and get back in the studio. “This album needs to have feelings, it needs to have soul, it needs to have spirit. And I have a lot of room for improvement, so I’m gonna work on that,” she said at the time.
“My main goal for this album is I really want the consumer and the listener to feel something,” Saweetie concludes. “With Pretty B—- Music, I think it’ll kind of humanize me. ‘Cause as a celebrity, people think we have no emotions, they talk about us so crazy, and I think it’s a statement to what is Diamonté like, not what Saweetie is.”
Watch Saweetie’s “Growing Up” episode above.