Kreayshawn Interview: 'Gucci, Gucci' Rapper Talks Oakland, Sandwiches And The Future Of Music
Who: Born Natassia Zolot, Oakland rap sensation Kreayshawn (a play on the word "creation") has been rapping and making videos since she was ten years old, but burst on the scene when she uploaded her hit "Gucci, Gucci" to YouTube in May. Within three weeks, the video had 3 million views. The count is currently 22,693,065.
Critics slam her for appropriating black culture or call her a one-hit-wonder, but fans note her artistic expression and evocative lyrics about promoting identity and her experimentation with bisexuality.
Current Gig: Since "Gucci, Gucci," Kreayshawn's pop success has inspired a recent video game (see below to play!), a slew of covers, a VMA award nomination, a nude photo controversy and articles based solely on her distaste for Zachary's Pizza. ("Fuck that fancy-ass pizza, man.") Now she's working on a new album and reaping the spoils of a million-dollar Columbia contract. Love her or hate her, it sounds like she's here to stay.
Neighborhood: Born in San Francisco, raised in East Oakland.
Kreayshawn, what do you think makes you so popular?
It's because I don't give a fuck. I've got "I don't give a fuck" syndrome. People either get it or they don't. But if they get it, they respect that, because that's where music is going right now.
You grew up in East Oakland and your mother was in local punk bank, The Trashwomen. What was that like?
It was cool; I was this little punk baby. She played at the Elbo Room, and all these places in the Mission. My mom wasn't strict or anything -- I'd be like three years old dressed like a punk and cursing and she'd think it was funny. I was always a loud mouth. It made me who I am.
Do you go to those same spots: the Elbo Room and the Mission?
No, when I'm home, we mostly just drive around the Bay and smoke. We drive all over the Bay. But I always go to Genova [Delicatessen] in Oakland. Oh my god, it's the best. I crave that shit. It wouldn't be a trip home without going there.
You've done some work with LA-based rap group Odd Future. How did you hook up with them?
I grew up with Left Brain. He's from the Bay, too, and we took art classes together – we did all these projects. So when he went to LA and started messing around with Odd Future, it was just natural, you know?
What do you think about accusations that you exploit black culture?
Man, I'm not trying to make a statement; it's just art and I rap about what I see. The things I talk about -- that's my life and that's what I grew up around. It's not about black or white or whatever; I'm not trying to be black. But I grew up in East Oakland and this is my life.
Do worry about repeating the success of "Gucci, Gucci?" What about the people who say you're a one-hit-wonder?
No, I'm making new stuff all the time. I did a show at Slim's in San Francisco and I played a new song that wasn't out yet. I told them, "Hey, I'm gonna do a new song." But they knew all the words already. They must have watched videos from my other shows. I was like, man, this is crazy. This is just the beginning.
Check out Kreayshawn's new video game below. Use the left and right arrow keys to move, the "z" button to jump, "x" to shoot, "e" to exit the map and "r" to reset the level: