Kreayshawn on That Million Dollar (?) Deal with Columbia/Sony, Being a Femcee and Working with Lil B and Snoop Dogg
UPDATE June 8, 7:51 a.m.: It's official: Kreayshawn has officially signed with Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. The 21 year-old will release "Gucci Gucci" via digital retailers on Tuesday, June 14th and prepare her forthcoming full-length debut album, due later this year. The dollar amount on that deal is still unconfirmed.
Also: The Kreayshawn/Snoop Dogg song and studio session did go down--with Travis Barker as well! The song that came out of those sessions is called "Keep It Craccin'" and will be included on Kreayshawn's major label debut.
ORIGINAL POST June 8, 7:31 a.m.: There's something to be said about a woman who's not afraid to get in front of a camera and draw the world's attention to the fact that she's got swag pumping out of her ovaries. Extra points for the fact that she's equally adept behind said camera as she is in front of it.
Meet Kreayshawn, the video director-turned-rapper whose video for "Gucci Gucci," a playful, yet hard-hitting rap song that taunts the carbon copy, wannabe Barbie bitches du jour, has made her a star. Well, almost. Although the track, released on May 18, was the 21-year-old's very first attempt at spreading her music beyond the small circle of her tight knit crew, it became a viral hit before sundown. By the next morning, virtually all of the blogs and social networks attuned to hip-hop were talking about Kreayshawn (real name: Natassia Zolot), even if they still didn't know how to pronounce her name (it's Kray-shawn, a play on the word "creation"), but many viewers still didn't know if she was serious or just another Internet spoof. Three weeks, more than two million page views, and a rumored million-dollar deal with Sony later, the pint-sized east Oakland femcee and White Girl Mob ringleader is clearly as real as the tats on her neck and arms. She just perfected her stage show, delivering only her sixth live performance last week in San Francisco and recently wrapped a studio session with her first feature artist ever--Snoop Dogg, no less.
To say that the last month has been a whirlwind for Kreayshawn would be an understatement. And the storm doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon. As she scrambles to put together her forthcoming mixtape "Left Eye," the high school dropout is also dealing with the challenges of living under the unflinching spotlight of semi-stardom, specifically staying true to herself in a world that's not used to seeing a young white girl blow trees and talk tough, like all her girls back home.
OC Weekly took a moment to sit down with the rapper to find out, how she feels about her overnight success, how her upbringing lends validity to her style and music, her use of the N-word and more importantly the answer to the question, who exactly is Kreayshawn?
OC Weekly: Where are you from?
Kreayshawn: East Oakland, an area called "murder dubs."
What was growing up there like and how did it influence you personally?
There's a lot of poverty, a lot of violence. There's like prostitution one block from house. Seeing that and growing up around that is not normal. I dropped out of high school. I was running wild in middle school, selling dope and all that.
How are you viewing things differently now that you've moved and you're putting yours music out?
In L.A. where I live now, everything is segregated by race. In east Oakland everything is mixed together. You got Asians, Cambodians, white people, Bosnians, black people, Haitians, Samoans, and Tongans and stuff like that. I don't notice when people are like "Oh that white girl is rapping." I don't feel like it's that big of a deal because it's like if you're from Oakland and you're rapping, you're just an Oakland rapper. It's definitely interesting to see people get excited over my music whether what they're saying is good or bad.
How long have you been rapping?
I've been making music since I was like a little baby but I just recently started putting it out there probably about a year ago. I used to just make songs and freestyle just to keep for myself and listen to it just to express myself, play it for my friends and slap it in the car. I met my manager through directing music videos because that's what I was doing before rap. I was directing a music video for one of his artists and he heard some of my music because I'd just play it for people. He was like "Oh my God! Take this serious for a couple of months and see where it goes." Now everything is flying through the roof.
Were you apprehensive about releasing your music?
When my friend hit me up and said "I'm going to get ["Gucci, Gucci"] on Worldstar" I was like "Man, everyone is going to hate on it." I was expecting for a lot of people to just say the weirdest things but when it got uploaded and I was looking at the comments there was a lot of positive things like "Oh this white girl can rap, let her do her thing." There's always going to be people who don't understand it, thats just with anything.
You recently had a show in San Francisco, how did you feel coming into it? Were you nervous?
I wasn't really nervous, I really wanted to have a lot to give to everybody and I wasn't sure what everybody really wants from me yet, because some people may come up to me and be like "That shit was weak" and others "Oh my God that shit was crazy." I really just wanted to make everyone happy. I wanted to roll around on the floor and like scream and jump into the crowd and stuff like that. And we did that.
A lot of people have been criticizing your girl and White Girl Mob crew member Lil Debbie for her use of the N-word. How do you feel abut that word and the use of it in music?
Personally in my songs I don't use it at all. If I'm freestyling and I said it, that's just for that point in time. Any songs I'm writing I don't use it. But like I said in Oakland, Asian people will call Mexicans that. A Mexican will call a black dude that. A white person will call an Asian that. Everyone calls each other that. I feel like that word is used in the low income community more than anything. I can see if I was some rich crazy trick and I was just saying this because it's hip-hop. No, I was raised around this. Me and my sisters were all raised around this. People call me that. But personally I'm not flaunting it around. I don't say it in my music because of how, if I'm putting myself out there to the world there are going to be a lot of people who don't like it.
What exactly is White Girl Mob?
White Girl Mob is me and my two sisters. My sister Lil' Debbie is like the DJ and stylist. My sister V Nasty is a rapper, a crazy MC and hype woman. Right now we're trying to market a brand. What I really want it to be is the modern day Spice Girls, empowering women to be themselves and do what they want, wear what they want and be what they want. People are going to think that its only for white chicks but I don't think that's it. Even like people on Twitter are hitting me up like "Can I be in W.G.M. even though I'm black?" or "Can I be in W.G.M even though I'm Mexican?" and I'm like "Hell yea!" This is really for everyone. Being white and growing up in Oakland in the ghetto and stuff, I was teased, and there's a lot of girls who were going through the same thing. No matter what, if you're black and growing up in a rich white community it's the same feeling and I feel like W.G.M is going to be more like a movement thing just like three girls DJ'ing and rapping.
You talk about empowering women but there's a line in "Gucci, Gucci" where you say "Bitch you ain't no Barbie/I see you work at Arby's/Number 2, super sized/Hurry up I'm starving" it sounds like that was kind of a diss toward Nicki Minaj. Was that directed to anyone specific?
No. It's basically like, you know the hook is like "Gucci Gucci Louis Louis" you know all the basic bitches wear that. And it's girls who dress up like Barbie's not to be like the Nicki Minaj-type that she uses for her fans. It's just like Barbie bitch. That can be a bitch from Miami, or it can be a bitch that dresses all Louis and Gucci down so it's just like those girls who act like they're the shit but they're really nothing. Just bitches working at Arby's. But it wasn't towards Nicki at all.
You have a lot of famous friends. How did you get to know some of the people we've seen you in videos with like Lil B, Soulja Boy, and some of the members of Odd Future?
I was shooting a music video for [Lil B] a while back. His first Based music video. He also inspired me a little bit to put myself out there just because his music is crazy, and this was before he was putting it on Worldstar and he was showing me this and listening to these songs and was like "Yo, I'm just going to flood everything with this." Soulja Boy, I would just contact him through Twitter and he'd be like come through to one of the videos, everyone hanging out at my house and I'd be like "fasho." A lot of the contacts I have was through my directing. I've known Left Brain before Odd Future was Odd Future. We were living in the Bay so we were working on a whole bunch of projects together all the time.
Snoop recently contacted you through DM as well right?
Yea, we're making a song with him actually. It's going to be crackin' that's all I know.
In addition to the song with Snoop, what else are you working on?
I'm filming a new video probably in the middle of June, and I'm going to put out a mixtape probably in the next two to three weeks which is going to be crazy because when we put "Gucci Gucci" out we were putting it out just like any other artist to be putting out a music video that they have shot with their friends so I'm thinking the other songs that I've already done are like better than "Gucci Gucci." So it's like I really can't wait to put more and more stuff out. Cuz people are like "Are you intimidated by the success of 'Gucci, Gucci'? Do you feel like it's going to be hard to follow up?" I'm like "No shit. I got shit ready."
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