Step aside, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. Y’all need to make room for hip hop’s latest entry: Saweetie. Pronounced “sweetie” (not “sah-weetie”), the female rapper from Hayward, California, rose to fame when she began Instagramming a series of freestyle rap videos. But it was her 2017 track “ICY GRL”—a feisty cover of Khia’s 2002 “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)”—that catapulted her to mainstream success and even earned her deal with Warner Bros Records.
But she’s not just some viral fad—Saweetie proves she’s the real deal and she’s here to stay. We get to know rap’s newest leading lady.
From car raps to the charts
Saweetie (real name Diamonté Harper) kickstarted her rap career in 2016 by rapping in—you wouldn’t have guessed it—her car. Between working odd jobs, the Cali gal spent her time uploading minute-long videos of her flaunting her mic skills on Instagram.
Her self-titled ‘car raps’ clips, which typically feature her in the driver’s seat freestyling over samples of hip hop beats, eventually caught the internet’s attention and made her a viral phenomenon. So by the time she dropped “ICY GRL,” she was already the name on everybody’s lips. You can’t argue with 50 million views on YouTube and Gold certification.
She wants you to know she’s no college dropout
Let’s get this straight: You can pursue a career in music and still get a college degree. Just ask Saweetie, who graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in business and communications while dabbling in music. “I decided to thug [school] out, and get this degree,” she told Interview magazine. “Nothing was touching a USC diploma, you know? I loved it. I learned a lot.”
And the diva clearly loves flexing her education on her bars. “Nah I don’t need a sugar daddy, they call me when they need stacks / See, I went to USC and got my college degree / That means I’m smarter than these n*ggas, can’t get over on me,” she spits on the remix of her breakout hit, which features Kehlani. We don’t blame her. We stan a smart, independent woman.
She adds to the list of biracial rappers
The R&B scene has Jhené Aiko, and now the rap world has received its own biracial sweetheart.
Just like Aiko, Harper is part African-American and part Asian. Born to a black father and a mother of Filipino-Chinese descent, the Bay Area native spent most of her childhood feeling slightly out of place due to her cross-cultural upbringing. But she also admitted that growing up biracial has taught her how to respect others better and understand the differences in people’s lives.
Family also plays a huge part in Saweetie’s life and music. Just listen to songs like “Focused” and “Ban,” on which she dedicates verses to her parents.
She’s a material girl
And she’s not afraid to admit it. Saweetie is a known baddie and claims to be boujee AF, using that to craft her ‘icy girl’ image. Think a younger Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown.
From Tory Burch to Gucci to Louis Vuitton, the rapper’s probably name-dropped more than half of the high fashion brands on her songs. But all that talk about bling and expensive rings didn’t come from nowhere.
Saweetie’s grandmother is one of her biggest inspirations and influences in her life—and that includes her sense of style. Her grandma was also responsible for giving the 25-year-old MC her moniker.
“[My grandma’s] so high maintenance, she used to get her hair and her nails done every Thursday an hour away from her house. She’s a boss,” she told Women’s Wear Daily.
Thanks to Saweetie’s fashion-forward lyrics, the skilled wordsmith has locked down campaigns with labels like Sprayground and Fenty Beauty. Probably won’t be long before the future fashion icon launches her own clothing line.
Life wasn’t always saweet
Despite rapping about the luxe life on her earlier tracks, Saweetie didn’t really get to enjoy it. She was barely scraping by—even while writing her number-one hit.
In her candid interview with The Los Angeles Times, Harper admitted that she wasn’t happy with her life and felt “disgusted” with her living circumstances back then. “I had $40 to my name,” she confessed. “I went from being a hustler, working different jobs to renting rooms off Craigslist.”
But hard work really does pay off. Because look where she’s at now.