Interview: Kreayshawn

Published at exclaim.ca

By Anupa Mistry

Less than five months ago no one really knew who Kreayshawn was. Internet gluttons that we are, over one million clicks in five days on her bizarre, rowdy video for “Gucci, Gucci” made it so the 21-year-old rapper/director from Oakland, CA (born Natassia Zolot) landed a lucrative record deal with Columbia. Filmed in a day by Toronto-based production company Strange Customs, “Gucci” is an introduction to Kreayshawn’s frenetic, weed-inspired brand of talk-rap, in which she roams Rodeo Drive with a posse that includes members of Odd Future and doppelganger sidekick Lil Debbie. She hasn’t released anything since – aside from tepid street single “Rich Whores” – but that hasn’t stopped Kreayshawn from landing magazine covers, a directing gig for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Best New Artist nomination at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. As with most ungroomed artists entering the spotlight, controversy stays close: there’s talk of cultural appropriation, and her “sister” V-Nasty, also a female white rapper, is unabashed in her use of the word “nigga.” Kreayshawn is conscious, but mostly dismissive, of her whiteness and the role it plays in her music career. “There are people who love it and there are people who hate it,” she explains. “But there’s definitely no one like it so, to me, it doesn’t really matter what’s making them listen to it over and over.”So how’s everything been going? Your life kind of turned upside down.
Man, it’s been so crazy. I’m happy you noticed because it seems like some people just don’t understand.

Okay, so tell me about hanging out with Snoop.

That was so crazy. He was just smoking so much weed! I’m a smoker, but it takes a lot for someone to smoke me out, and I was smoked out. Me, him and my sister V-Nasty, we all made a song together. He’s just like any other guy. When he reached out, he said, “That ‘Gucci’ song, that’s my lifestyle!” And when I was thinking about it, I was like, “When HAVE I seen Snoop wear Gucci or Louis?” His house is all candles, weed smoke, snacks everywhere – because he’s a family guy. He’s not all extravagant and formal like, “Don’t put your glass on that table!” He’s super chill, we definitely all got along.

I think a lot of people are waiting on more songs to decide how they feel about you. Do you have a full-length record ready to go?

Yeah, definitely. It wasn’t like it was just “Gucci, Gucci” and nothing else. When we put it out we had already been working on projects – we had a vision. It’s just that we didn’t think the video was going to get a million views in such a short time. Everything’s kind of happening at the right time because we have a whole bunch of other stuff to show people and labels.

What about your comments on empowering women? What makes your music empowering?
When I first started doing everything, like making music videos and stuff, there were a lot of girls who reached out to me saying things like, “You really inspired me to get a camera and start filming” or “Yo, you really empowered me to be more confident at school,” or “I have something to believe in and say.” After receiving a few messages like that, it hit me that I really have a voice and I’d rather help girls. Even though my songs have cursing and talk about snorting Adderall… there are songs on the radio just talking about getting girls pregnant. So it’s an alternative. It’s a different view for people to have but it’s inspiring some girls out there to do something different and be creative and embrace what they want. Hopefully they see that I’ve done it. I’ve created things no matter who is watching, and now everyone’s fucking watching.

Are you surprised by the male response?

There are a lot of guys who wish there was a girl they could listen to! There are a lot of gay dudes who listen to Nicki Minaj, but that could make a straight guy feel uncomfortable because she is yelling stuff about Barbies. That’s why I want to make music that everyone can relate to – from a 13-year-old girl in Pennsylvania to Snoop Dogg, who is an OG dude right there.

Is it safe to say that your perspective comes from being a Spice Girls fan?

Definitely! I remember being a kid and I had a birthday party where you had to wrap presents in Spice Girl wrapping paper. You can tell from Spice Girl Purp (an informal mixtape release from 2010) that I was definitely super in love with the Spice Girls. That was a really good movement, and I think Beyonce has a lot of that too. I feel like I’m doing something like that in a less typical way – less radio, more of what people want to hear.

What came first: music or film?

My mom was in an all-girl surf punk band (The Trashwomen) when I was young. So music was definitely all in my ear first. I definitely got into film at an early age. When I was ten years old I got a little VHS camera and filmed my friends hanging out on the block, just to document. And then I started making music and freestyling with my friends to listen to and watch back.

So what happened with film school at Berkeley?
Berkeley was a 16-month program: the first eight months you’re in intense training every day, the last eight months you work on your projects with what you learn. Basically, I was on full scholarship so I wasn’t getting the freedom and the same respect as other students, and that was kind of fucking me up. Our screening night, it might have been our third, I ended up cutting out of there and just never came back. That said, I’m still more on the music video tip. I’d love to direct a movie one day but I know that music videos are more of a passion for me because music is also a passion too.

You once said you’d love to bring back the Hype Williams-days of million dollar budgets. What would you do to a music video with a million dollars?

Man, I would definitely do some crazy technician stuff. Like a whole wall of lights or crazy scenes that you can milk for what their worth, even though they might be a 30-second filming shot that costs $500,000 – you can put it in slow motion and use it throughout the video. I’m into that crazy, experimental stuff. I watched John Waters movies a lot so I’m definitely on the odd end.

Goodwill is one of your favourite places to shop. What’s your favourite Goodwill find?
The Flintstones hoodie from the “Bumpin, Bumpin”” video! When I found that I was like “What the hell?!” I had to wear it for the video. I always shop in the kids’ section – that is where I find my shit at! Sometimes I’ll check the tag and find myself wearing stuff that’s meant for a five-month-old baby, and I’m like “What the fuck? How did I get this on?”