Who knows what the future holds for Kreayshawn? Maybe she’s the first earnest embodiment of a rapping Spice Girl, empowering women through her brash individuality and uplifting intentions. Maybe she’s the first female Vanilla Ice, the soon-to-be corporate face of faux-Hip Hop positioned for success strictly because the numbers make sense. Maybe she’s something somewhere in between. Maybe she’s something brand new.
With little more than a YouTube smash, a Sony deal still waiting for the ink to dry and a wide-ranging list of celebrity co-signs, it’s difficult to know what to make of Rap’s latest Internet obsession. The East Oakland representer doesn’t fit into any predefined box because she’s admittedly still tinkering with the foundation of her craft. Regardless of how polarizing rapid pop-notoriety is in Hip Hop, one thing is undeniable even at this early stage: Kreayshawn is an artist. Visually. Sonically. Creatively.
HipHopDX spoke with Kreayshawn about New York’s lack of “pussy-popping,” making Rap music that’s accessible to women, the difference between “White Girl Mob” and “Girl Gang,” and how she’s handling her newfound fame.
HipHopDX: How was your first New York City performance experience? I believe you rocked Highline Ballroom at the end of May.
Kreayshawn: Yeah, I did the Highline with Roxy Cottontail.
DX: How was that? How was the crowd out here to you?
Kreayshawn: It’s different because in New York, even in the club, it’s like, everyone will be rapping the lyrics and rapping their favorite song but you won’t see a bitch pussy-popping on the handstand. Or I haven’t yet. Well, I’ve seen a couple but for the most part, everyone is just vibing out. Everyone was vibing. Everyone was like, “Yo, you killed that shit!” And I’m like, “Are y’all feeling it? I can’t tell! C’mon, pop yo’ coochie!” [Laughs]
DX: New York is a tough town. New York is highly critical about Hip Hop, but more than anything else, New York is too-cool-for-school, anyway. Hip Hop and everything else.
Kreayshawn: This is where it came from, really. So I see why.
Kreayshawn’s Musical Style
DX: How would you describe your music? Do you consider it Hip Hop? Or is it something else and you’re rapping over it?
Kreayshawn: I mean, “Gucci Gucci” is definitely a different kind of Rap music because not a lot of Rap music can translate into something that everyone can listen to, you know what I’m saying? I think it has a whole bunch of different elements in it but it is, for the most part, it is Hip Hop. It has rapping in it. I’m not singing or harmonizing. It’s definitely a mix between a whole bunch of stuff.
DX: I think it’s really interesting now with music, holistically speaking. There are a lot of different sounds fusing together and making kind of new sounds. Little Dragon or Ariel Pink, for example. Ariel Pink calls his sound “Retrolicious.” It’s difficult some times to pinpoint exactly what people are doing because there is a lot of creativity happening right now.
Kreayshawn: I think that’s what people are embracing now because I feel like everything started getting formulated. Everything was kind of being made for you to listen to and I feel like, now people are accepting artists and their individuality. That makes a lot of fusion genres because it’s not like, “This is girl is making Pop music and it’s about to be on the radio.” A fusion between different styles is being welcomed because people are tired of being told, “This is what Pop is. This is what Hip Hop is. Listen to this on the radio.” People are breaking out of that because the Internet’s there. You can go on the Internet and find different music now.
DX: You said something I felt was pretty insightful on your Tumblr. “There’s somethings I just want to do for the sake of doing. Like you live for these years. Just to look back on and be bitter about when your older. I wanna be bitter as hell. I wanna make my past the best by doing anything I can now to make it as colorful and exciting as I can.”
Kreayshawn: That’s basically something I’ve been doing since forever — since I can remember — is making music and doing videos just for me to have to document and look back on. Sometimes I’ll do something crazy like stand on a table and scream and be like, “Yeah, I was there last week and I stood on a table and screamed.” Making an impression. Once I started putting the music out and videos out, it was something for everyone to look back on and be like, “Oh, shit.” People are going to look back on “Gucci Gucci” in a couple months and be like, “Oh yeah, I remember that video. That shit was crazy. I was showing all my friends that,” you know.
Kreayshawn Explains Her Tattoo
DX: Is that what you mean by [your tattoo] “My Mind Exploded”?
Kreayshawn: “My Mind Exploded” actually came from this song by this singer named Tone. I’ll look for music on YouTube and click random links and there’s this song with her singing “My mind exploded once or twice” and that stood out to me. Your mind can explode from being so excited. It can explode from being so angry. It’s just like, I’m and over-analyzer type of person. Everyday constantly something is making my mind explode and I’m like, “Yo, what the fuck!” and so I had to get that tatted.
DX: How did this Sony deal come about in your opinion? Is this off the strength of “Gucci Gucci” or this more a product of the of combination your videography, one-stop-shop-artist haven you’ve created for yourself?
Kreayshawn: I think that’s how it is because a lot of people — you can say 1.8 million people — are seeing “Gucci Gucci” and seeing me for the first time. For a lot of people, that’s what it seems like or that’s what it looks like because people are going to see to the right of the page and look at all my old videos and old stuff. “Gucci Gucci” of course has caught the attention of everybody but the labels, they look back. They research. That’s one thing I loved about Sony [Records] is because they cover a whole bunch of mediums of things, too. So when they looked back and saw that I had films and videos, [that] I’ve shot videos for myself, stuff like that, that’s what really turned them on. I felt like if “Gucci Gucci” was like a one-time thing, it would’ve just been a viral video. I feel like it’s bigger and more than that just because I’m a one-stop artist person. They saw that I already had a vision. They didn’t have to make a vision for me. It wasn’t just like, “Oh yeah, this chick’s cute in the video. Let’s sign her and have her do this and have her do that.” They signed me and were like, “We want you to do everything you’ve already been doing from day 1.”
DX: Does that feel empowering? I know you have all kinds of friends and family — your mom was in [punk band] The Trashwomen — advising you on how treacherous the entertainment industry, the music industry can be.
Kreayshawn: Oh yeah, [my mom’s] been hitting my phone up all the time, trying to give me advice. I was like, “Man, mom, this is like 20 years later. Shit’s different!”
DX: Really? That’s interesting. So you’re forming your own path away from your mom’s advice.
Kreayshawn: Her thing was a whole different type. That was 20 years ago with underground Punk music. It’s way different from a video going on YouTube. If she was this age [today] and she did an all-girl Punk band, I could imagine it being even bigger than this.
DX: On the Hip Hop tip, people are always decrying or dealing with “haters.” There’s always a bunch of people who will challenge you and test you because Hip Hop has always been hyper-competitive.
Kreayshawn: That’s like the main thing of Rap. Things should just be normal, you know?
Kreayshawn Speaks About Her Street Background
DX: Have you thought about that? When Lil’ Kim or some new hungry rapper somewhere comes out and feels your the next one to target, similarly to what happened with Nicki Minaj for whatever reason or how Odd Future came out throwing darts at certain industry acts — are you prepared for something like that on a lyrical level? Because that’s where these things are hashed out most times anyway.
Kreayshawn: I mean, shit, I’ll kill it. I’m not tripping. The whole thing with me is I’m saying every girl rapper is their own movement and I respect it because every woman is. It’s hard because in Hip Hop, they will place women against each other. They will say stuff and it’s different because when a man sees a man, it’ll be like, “Yo, what’s up, homie?” But with girls it’s competition already. You’ll look at a girl down the street and be like, “Oh yeah, that’s competition.” For me, I’ve never been like that. I’m super chill. I respect everybody. I’m not coming after anybody. And anyone that wants to come after me, come after my neck, then that’s what it is. They can do that. I’m just trying to keep all the females together. I don’t want to be put against anyone or anything like that. I said one little thing about Nicki [Minaj] that wasn’t even a diss at all. I love Nicki and what she does but all her fans went crazy on me and I’m like, “Yo, what the fuck? Y’all are turning it into some bigger shit that it never was!” It’s crazy.
DX: That happened to you a couple days ago when you [posted] a Mobb Deep quote on Twitter and put the #WU hashtag on it.
Kreayshawn: Yeah. That was hella funny because that was some stupid ass shit like, c’mon. Y’all tripping.
DX: I think all of that is part of how treacherous this industry can be. Especially with Hip Hop. Especially when an artist gains such a high profile rather quickly.
Kreayshawn: Yeah, it’s like, I didn’t come out with this video expecting this to happen. But I’m hella excited that all this is happening but it’s just like, shit you’ve gotta give me a break, too. The past few weeks have been like something I’ve never seen before and something that I never even expected to happen right away. Especially this quick. I can’t even like tweet the same things I used to tweet and stuff like that because everyone is going crazy.
DX: That’s real. You’re 100% right about that. I was reading an interview you did with KingDrake.com and you were talking about when Snoop Dogg invited you over to his house and you said what he said to you was that your music is the type of music that can bridge women and females to Hip Hop. It’s a different kind of voice.
DX: When I hear “Gucci Gucci” and the hook is literally “Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother” which is like the empowering women, Spice-Girl-of-rap kind of thing happening.
Kreayshawn: Yeah. I love it. Yeah.
DX: It’s insightful but at the same you’ll bridge it with lines like, “I’m flossing like Ivana Trump…got my hand on the pump if you want to press your luck.” There’s not many voices that are able to capture both aspects at the same time. Was that something you tried to do or is this naturally…
Kreayshawn: I mean, shit, that’s how I live, you know? I’m from Oakland. I grew up a white girl in Oakland and there’s people tweeting like, “Fuck Kreayshawn. She might rap but she ain’t from the hood!” And it’s just like, bitch are you serious? Come to my neighborhood. People just want to make stuff up because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to believe it. They just want to be like, “Oh, this is some stupid ass shit. Fuck it, whatever.” Shit, I’ve been doing this shit for hella long. This is where I’m from. This is how I act. This is how I talk. I’m not over here trying to fake like I’m anything. I’m not running around in every interview like, “Yo, I’m really from the ghetto, though,” because I don’t care. You can read it off me and it’s genuine. When people meet me they can tell. I wasn’t born in no corn-fed house with a mom and dad and my family and shit like that. That wasn’t it.
DX: What’s your rap sheet look like? You’re like “See me at your college campus. / Baggie full of Aderol. / Call me if you need a fix. / Call me if you need a boost.”
Kreayshawn: Man, to tell you the truth, back when I was under 18, young Kreayshawn got caught with sticky fingers a lot of times. But shit, now that young Kreayshawn is older, young Kreayshawn don’t get caught at all. Sometimes I’ll look back like, I used to have a pink Mustang 5.0, ’92, so I was just like riding around in a pink Mustang in east Oakland doing hella shit. I guess the police were looking at me like, “Shit, if she got a pink car driving around like that, she must have a license. She must have insurance.” But little did they know the trunk was full of white and I’m over here smashing around like it’s nobody’s business.
DX: Have you spoken to your father since things started blowing up for you? I know he wasn’t present in your life.
Kreayshawn: No. Me and him don’t even have a relationship. I don’t have his phone number. I don’t know where he lives. That’s just like some other shit.
DX: Is that type of personal content that shows another side of you going to be prevalent on your album that’s coming out? Is that a large part of it?
Kreayshawn: Like, deep down, the trials of my life and stuff like that?
DX: Well, for example, with Odd Future, a lot of people view them as just being really left and really angry. But they’ve found ways to infuse their own personal struggles into their music and rather than sounding sad about it — like Drake, I guess — they’re raging about it. And you probably get that all the time, especially being from Oakland, the west coast while the Odd Future movement; while Lil B is doing stuff. There’s a lot of alternative expressions of Hip Hop happening and most of those are based on their own personal experiences. Is that going to be the same for you?
Kreayshawn: I feel like the way I grew up, like sometimes it makes me mad but then again it’s made me who I am. I’m never angry. I’m never overly sad about it. Shit, I like the way I grew up. That’s me. I’m definitely going to let people know and shit, if I’m sad I’ll make a fucking sad song. I’ll make all kinds of music for whatever mood I’m in. That’s what I’ve been doing. When I made “Gucci Gucci,” I was just in the mode like, “Fuck these basic-ass bitches.” Living in [Los Angeles], you see that shit all the fucking time. You’ll see a girl walk through with all this stuff and it’s not even just about not wearing Gucci and not wearing [Louis Vuitton]. It’s just about the attitude that I don’t like. That basic bitch attitude. Fuck that. The album that I’m going to put out is going to have all types of different shit for sure.
DX: What’s the title?
Kreayshawn: Shit, I don’t even know yet. I had a title and now that everything is so different we’re definitely changing the title.
DX: What was the old title?
Kreayshawn: I don’t know. I’m not going to say it because that’s the last thing I want everyone to talk about: the old title to the album that’s going to come out. That’s stupid. [Laughs]
DX: What’s the difference between “White Girl Mob” and “Girl Gang”?
Kreayshawn: The “White Girl Mob” thing, everyone was loving that shit but then at the same time it’s just like…I don’t know. Everyone loves it. It’s a perfect name but I wanted to make something for everybody because there are people who hit me up everyday and they’re like, “Can I be in White Girl Mob? I’m Indian. I’m Pacific Asian. I’m Black. Can I be in White Girl Mob?” I don’t want people to feel like you can’t be in it. It’s for everyone. I want to tell everyone like, “Yo, everyone can be in it.” But then I can’t personally go to every single person and be like, “Here’s your invitation.” So I made “Girl Gang” for just something for everyone to say right away. Like, “Girl Gang.” Plus I like “Girl Gang” more and “White Girl Mob” is kind of just like the name of the group of me and V Nasty and Lil Debbie and like, it almost got turned into something crazy and huge. But “Girl Gang” is definitely the movement that I want to push. “White Girl Mob” is like the group of all three of us and Kreayshawn is just me.
DX: You have an awesome name, I do want to tell you that. As soon you hear that name, you want to Google it and check it out. It sounds like an artist.
Kreayshawn: Thanks. If you can spell it right. Some people can’t spell it right.
DX: That’s true. You can’t go phonetic on that one. You have to know what you’re looking for.
DX: You listen to a wide ranging type of music. You’ve talked about Kool Keith and Missy Elliot and different types of music you liked at an early age. With your music, what do you want to be most known for? Is there something that you want people to think about you?
Kreayshawn: Man, I just want people to listen to it in every situation. I love that one song like “Gucci Gucci” can make sense from a little 15-year old girl in Minnesota to like, you know, Snoop Dogg. It all makes sense to everybody. Of course there are some people who really don’t fucking get it. I’m not fucking worried about them right now. But I just want everyone to keep listening and I’m going to keep making different songs with different genre inspirations; different artist inspirations. Like, crazy [collaborations]. I’m just going to be doing everything and that’s just for everyone to listen to.
DX: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. I was very interested in this conversation because I think that we’re all so quick to put things in a box by reflex. And based on what box we think that goes in, we’re also quick to generalize it, stereotype it. I think you’re one of those people. I think people are going to run out and deride you and talk a lot of junk and there’s another segment that will immediately identify with you and both is because they don’t know which box to put you in. I was looking forward to this because I wanted to get a better grasp on who you are as a person. With all of the things you do creatively — films, music — do you have a favorite? Is there one that is more natural?
Kreayshawn: Yeah, you’re right. I think doing film and music was just something I was doing to document everything and just have something for myself so it was always something I’ve been doing hand in hand right next to each other. But with my music, I grew up with my mom recording music. So like, recording music was just something that I naturally did and was just doing. But I went to film school and moved to [Los Angeles] like, “Yo, I’m going to do some filming.” But then my manager, before he was my manager, I was doing videos for one of his artists and he ended up hearing some of my songs and he was like, “Yo, you should just take this serious.” And sitting in the studio and stuff like that, I was like, “Wow, I can really make a difference with my music.” It’s even better that I have a whole film background because I know what I’m talking about. The shit that I shoot, that’s where I live. Those are my partners, you feel me? Those are the videos I did for free. I think it’s important that both of them are together because I think one without the other wouldn’t have made that much sense. I’m happy that everything is together because I don’t want to be known as just a rapper and I don’t want to be known as just a filmer. That’s why the name, Kreayshawn is like “creation.” It’s like, “always creating.” I want to be known as “the creator creating,” but not like “Tyler The Creator.” [Laughs]
I just want people to know that I have a lot of stuff coming out and shit, I’ve been working on this shit before all this happened. We didn’t pull “Gucci Gucci” out of nowhere and shit, I signed a deal. It was nothing like that. There’s hella work. There’s history behind this shit. It ain’t no fake hood bitch talking stupid-ass-shit, you know. This is all real. It’s all good, man.