Ink Tone Swep Images Vince Trupsin Looks Yvonne Mwazo MUA Paige Woods Hair Rosiekia Artis PR Erica Hill Location Vince Trupsin Studio, Los Angeles, CA
When you first came in the game you were very, very young; like 16 or 17. What were some of the early challenges you encountered when making a name for yourself?
Staying consistent, I would say that was the main challenge. Making music at first you just want it to be good so people fuck with it, you’re not trying to appeal to a fanbase yet, and that’s what I had to go through to be taken seriously. I was already an influencer, now I’m putting out music. Then, too, I’m super young so I’m sure they was like ‘What’s she gon’ talk about, she’s too young to be on what’s real’ – then they heard my music. From that point it’s about staying consistent because now you have a message, a sound, and a listener, and your listener is looking for your sound, for the music you make and that message in it; what you specifically talk about. I had to learn that but I learn fast.
You and Yella Beezy are two of the absolute hottest new artists in rap, period. Why do you feel that Dallas artists are emerging in rap now? Because when you think Texas artists in hip-hop Houston comes to mind.
I mean, it’s just a different time. Houston got all the OG rappers and a lot of them are legends in the game like Pimp C, Bun B, UGK, Scarface. There are more people in their city who do music, so they have more artist influence. We had rappers in Dallas, too. Artists like Big Tuck with Dirty South Rydaz, The Realest, there’s others but they didn’t really blow. Not nationaly, they’re just big in Dallas. They were more underground… I feel as though we got inspired by somebody else in the past, like artists from everywhere else, and also like we had to go out to another city to really pop. When we started rapping there wasn’t a lot of young people doing it, there are way more now.
Listening to your music, I can tell that you write, like these are lyrics coming from one person’s point of view. No one is writing your raps. When did you first realize you had this talent to write, and then recite what you’ve written?
I didn’t realize it until I made my first project, Cuban Link. I put it out thinking like ‘this could be big’, at the same time knowing it might not be. I dropped it and people started fucking with it. My first song I ever put out went hard, from there I’ve been releasing new music, shooting videos, doing shows, and pursuing my music career.
Some of your biggest hits like “Bankrupt”, “Pu$$y Worth” and “Unbothered” have South region origins, but then some of your underground bangers like “Made It Now”, “Don’t Like Me” – and especially “Nights Like This” – sound like they’re straight out of The Bay. What was most influential to your music?
Around the time I recorded those songs I had moved to Cali, I was working with a lot of Cali producers and they would mainly send me West Coast beats. I feel like that definitely played a part. ALLBLACK, G-Eazy, and SOB x RBE are some of the artists that were popular, their music was being played everywhere and I’m hearing this every day. It influenced me to mix my sound with that sound, and that made a different vibe coming from me. And by that point I was living this life every day and we was looking past Dallas far as musically.
Won’t lie, the Aaliyah Keef and Karma tapes are hard, and I think you surprised and impressed a lot of people with your lyricism, the beats you chose, and your perspective. Did you know it would be so well received?
Every time I was surprised. I didn’t expect the reaction, people liking the songs, I never feel as though I’m just entitled to that, feel me. I don’t want to just rely on my fanbase and expect them to just automatically stream my music and my visuals just because. I want what I drop to be good for real, so they actually like it. Like if they were hearing me and seeing me for the first time ever they would like it. In my music I’m just speaking from experiences in my personal life, and so many can relate. I make relatable songs, I feel like I’m a relatable person period. I’m just real.
Your growth on the Karma tape is heard loud and clear. It sounds more like a debut album, even the features were huge. Was there pressure to be even better as an artist after the success of Cuban Link and Aaliyah Keef? Does the pressure continue?
I feel a lot of pressure, definitely. It’s like you never know how the public will react to new material and you gotta go hard for a year straight, maybe longer, to make sure you’re heard and seen in all these different markets. People fuck with certain songs, though, and I know what my main fans, my day one core fanbase is looking for. But you may be rappin’ with autotune on this one, turnt up on that one, changing up your sound and experimenting with different deliveries. If I really like a song, I’ll have it for a couple months and just play it, see if I still like it. Then I’ll put it out. Then, too, if there’s a song I’m confident about I stand on that. No need to second guess it. This one is it, I can hear it.
On “Wicked” you rap: “Don’t nobody want your n!99a girl, he’s irritating / and you’re broke so he’s broke by affiliation.” Those are consistent themes in your music – broke people who are either jealous of you, or underachieving in their lives because they aren’t working hard enough. Where does that sentiment derive from?
You are what you hang around. If you’re affiliating yourself with broke people with no goals and no future plans that says a lot about you. And if you are with people who are getting money, who are starting or have businesses, who are rich or in the process of getting rich, it shows where your mindset is and what your mind state is. Also, I feel like that’s tough love, and tough love is the best motivation for a lot of people. They respond better when the reality of their situation is laid out in front of them.
Your flow on “Live Onna Gram” is reminiscent of classic UGK legend Bun B; can even hear some Young Buck and 8Ball & MJG mixed in. Was it a conscious decision to pull from that style for the song, or did it happen more organically and the song just came together?
It was basically the music and the vibe of the song, what the beat was already doing. There was this soul sample, I think Curtis Mayfield, and that had me in the zone; my dirty south region bag. I chopped the flow up, and the music was faster than the average trap beat; needed a different flow. And I brought it.
Your shows sell out all over the country, definitely a dope live performer. So many artists in this SoundCloud era make decent music but struggle to perform it live. Where did you develop your stage presence? People love to see you in person.
It just came naturally, I feed off the energy of the crowd. You can’t just be not lit when people jumping up and down, yelling your name, shouting your songs line for line, song after song. And I’m just excited every time anyways, I like to see everyone having a good time, and when I go to the same city sometimes I will see some of the same fans mixed in with new faces. You can’t help but love that. I’m just jumping up and down, running all around the stage rappin’ and dancin’ (Laughs!)… When I dropped Karma I was nervous about performing it live because it had only been out like three months and we were already touring off the project; wasn’t sure if it had time to circulate on all these different platforms or if they knew the music. But they did.
What can you share with us that you have in the works on the business side with your Cuban Savage brand?
I’m dropping new merch, it’s going to be very fashionable. I’m dropping a new song called “My Ex”. More interviews, more media. Rebranding everything under Cuban Da Savage, everything is on a much bigger scale. It’s more mature, because I started when I was really young like you were saying earlier, so it’s time for people to accept that other side. Cuban as a young woman, artist, entrepreneur and influencer. Not just a rapper, or just a teenager on social media acting up.
Being only 21 and yet always in the public eye, do you feel it’s your responsibility to be a role model? Especially to your core fans, many of whom are as young as eight or nine-years-old?
I feel like being a role model is important with me being in front of so many people. I try to make sure I’m always putting out the best energy. Women’s empowerment is big to me, definitely more time and attention to empowering women in my way, in my lane. I don’t feel like you have to inspire the younger females the same exact way someone else might. Older women come up to me all the time and say they are inspired by me, that I encourage them to step their game up. A lot of women tell me that and they are in their 20’s and 30’s.
What is the biggest misconception about you? Share something about yourself the casual observer may not realize they have all wrong.
They probably think I may have a bad attitude. When people don’t know you they don’t like you. They see a female, she’s a rapper, an influencer with a big following, and they assume your attitude must be real bad. I do the same thing (Laughs!). If I never heard of you, never seen your show or heard your music, I’m looking like ‘what the hell?’… If people actually knew me they’d love me. And I realized it’s my job to introduce myself to people, and to express more because at first I wasn’t doing that enough. I was mainly speaking through my music. But most people who meet me and get to know me say they love me and they fuck with the music and what else I have going on. I appreciate them so much, they just don’t know.