Twenty-six-year-old Diamonté Harper, better known as Saweetie, has taken the rap world by storm this year with her no-nonsense lyricism and breezy ’90s flow. “Tap In,” the lead single from her upcoming debut album “Pretty Bitch Music,” has garnered more than 90 million Spotify streams since its June release and spurred a viral TikTok dance challenge. With no sign of slowing down anytime soon, she followed it up with a remix featuring Post Malone, DaBaby and Jack Harlow, as well as a new single with Jhené Aiko, “Back to the Streets.”
Saweetie spoke to Variety about freestyling, her iconic Halloween costume and what it means to be a pretty bitch (This interview has been edited and condensed).
Congratulations on all of your success this year, especially with “Tap In.” Tell me a bit about how the song came to be and what you want fans to take from it.
I come from a place where music really controls the mood and the atmosphere. So sometimes when I make songs like “Tap In,” it’s intentionally to have a good time and I think that people can feel that through the lyrics and through my energy. The reason why I went with it as the lead single is because beyond music, beauty and fashion — which I cover all the time — I think it’s also important to tap in to things we care about such as social issues.
How does TikTok allow you to connect with your fans, and what do you think of the “Phineas and Ferb” Dr. Doofenshmirtz remix?
What I love about the app is that TikTok kind of allows me to just be the super fun, goofy version of Saweetie. I love when the users come up with a challenge, a dance or something creative that inspires me. There’s only so much you can do yourself, and I always pull creativity from life, other people, creative influences – just everywhere. So I love that they keep inspiring me to be creative. But, oh my god! Girl, I refuse to do the platypus dance. I can’t do that. When I first saw that, my jaw dropped. I was like, “What the hell is this?”
You started your career by posting videos on social media of you freestyling over other songs. How have you applied that experience to creating your own original songs?
I love to sample, because I do draw inspiration from other artists and their energy. But I really had to figure out my Saweetie sound, because I’m not going to come out with an album full of samples. I’ve had to figure out, who is Saweetie, what does she stand for and what does she want to talk about?
So, who is Saweetie?
I think my artist persona is the superhero version of me. And by superhero, I mean a superhero who goes out into the world, performs, entertains and takes care of people. I’m all about empowering, I’m all about having a good time and I’m all about just being me, unapologetically.
Your Halloween costume as all three members of Destiny’s Child went viral. How has the group influenced you?
They were the pioneers for independent women. I mean, “Survivor” and “Bootylicious!” I feel like Destiny’s Child is my brand, but the rapper version. I’m all for having a good time and owning your sexuality, but when they have to handle business, they handle their business.
What does being a “pretty bitch” mean to you?
“Pretty Bitch” is definitely a loaded meaning. “Pretty” to me, it’s something that I’m owning now. I feel like I’ve had to play down my confidence because people – even before I entered the industry – were trying to associate me with pretty privilege. I didn’t really understand it because that’s definitely not how I was raised and my values don’t gear toward face value. But now I’m coming into a moment where it’s just like, I’m going to be confident in my skin and I’m not going to feel bad about it. I’m also trying to change the discourse, because pretty, to me, is your aura, your energy, how you treat other people. Living in L.A., a lot of bad bitches are ugly to me. They treat people so bad; they have no accountability for their attitude. So for me, I’m trying to change the meaning behind that. And then going to “Bitch,” I love Tupac, I love him so much. I love what he did with “Thug Life,” and that’s what I want to do with “Bitch.” “Bitch” means independent, it means tough. It means hyphy, which means having a good time and turning up.