Saweetie went the extra mile with her communications degree. The Bay Area/Sacramento native (“I feel like that confuses people, because both areas try to claim me”) graduated from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism in 2016 with an emphasis in business, but she wanted to get down to the real business of rapping.
She was described as an overnight sensation when she posted “Icy Girl,” a freestyle over Khia’s “My Neck, My Back,” late last year, but those two years between graduating and going viral felt “like an eternity” to Saweetie.
“It definitely didn’t happen that quick, and I’ve had this dream since I was 14 years old, so that was a while ago,” she told Billboard. “So the fact I was able to have all this success right now just means everything to me. It really helped me become the quote-unquote ‘hot rapper’ in social media.”
— Saweetie (@Saweetie) July 6, 2018
Saweetie (real name: Diamonté Harper) still posts freestyles on Twitter and Instagram, including a snippet of her spitting a verse over Ella Mai‘s “Boo’d Up” in her car, which was one of the original pseudo-studios where she worked on her craft. Her “car raps,” as she dubs them, helped catapult her career but only post-grad, because Saweetie said she was discouraged to post her rap videos on YouTube. “After I graduated, I didn’t have the resources to go to the studio, which is why I then went to social media,” she said.
I thought this was going to be just another one of my car raps. I didn’t think it would turn into a song but WOW look at GOD. At this time I was stressed bc I had a passion for music and didn’t know what to do with it. I just wanted to give a special thank you to my family and friends who had to hear me vent about my frustrations and who would tell me to keep pushing and to all the wonderful people who don’t know me but show love. I genuinely and really do appreciate all of that. My official project is coming soon and I can’t wait to share ??———-
From strolling through USC’s campus to sitting in her car spitting fire lyrics over familiar tracks, Saweetie has been stunting at the biggest festivals this year. She performed at South by Southwest in March and Rolling Loud and The Great Escape in May, and she’s due for another festival performance next month at HARD Summer.
“What I love about my audience is it’s extremely diverse as far as the ethnicities and the ages that show up,” Saweetie said. “I just love seeing my audience live, and I also love to see my peers perform because it inspires me to be a better performer as well.”
At HARD Summer, don’t just expect to hear “Icy Girl” or the “Bae Mix” of the viral hit with Kehlani. Saweetie’s High Maintenance EP — which she released March 16 — features eight other tracks, but the one thing all nine songs have in common is the braggadocio factor (think YG’s “Big Bank” track with 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj). “I’ve been told by my fans, the people who listen to my music, is that I make them feel like a boss,” she said. “So if ‘Icy Girl’ makes them feel like a boss, High Maintenance makes other women feel like a boss.”
Saweetie is working on expanding her EP now, while recording with some major names in music. Just last week, she tweeted, “Man I just got some amazing news!!!! Y’all when I tell you….”
“I’m working with David Guetta, and we’ve been cooking up something special,” she teased. “I don’t want to ruin the surprise. He’s like one of the top artists globally, and he’s a DJ, so the fact that he’s being recognized as an artist just shows the hard work that he’s been putting in. I’m so happy to become a part of that David Guetta famous brand.”
Saweetie has also been in the studio with Rich the Kid and G-Eazy working on a collaboration called “Up Now,” which will be accompanied by a music video. “High Maintence didn’t have any features, so the fact that I’m collaborating with other artists is extremely exciting,” she said. But Saweetie has grown up with other influential members of the music industry: Zaytoven, who recently assisted Future by producing his Beastmode 2 mixtape, is Saweetie’s cousin, and her cousin’s dad is MC Hammer.
“I felt like they’ve inspired me to be a hard worker, because Zay and MC Hammer have both put their years in, so hopefully I can follow in their path and make a legacy of my own.”
When asked about what her future looks like, she’s ready to help other artists come up in the music industry she’s dreamt of entering since she was 14: “I founded my label last November called Icy, and once my foundation is laid, I’d love to go back and help other artists and give them the opportunity that I wasn’t given at a younger age.”