Rapper Saweetie accredits her “hustler” spirit to budding fame, as she prepares for the release of her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music.
The “Tap-In” rapper spoke with PEOPLE about how her hustler spirit helped her evolve from a college graduate to one of the biggest female rap artists.
“I’m always about independence, getting to the bag, and also inspiring others,” she says. “While I’m out here chasing my dreams, hopefully, I’m inspiring the little girls at home who are watching me, who will one day grow up and be a businesswoman or an artist like me.”
Although confident now, the Bay-Area native expressed insecurities with her mixed-race heritage while growing up. She understands that her experiences helped make her who she is today.
“I felt like it helped me mature at a really young age,” she explains.
Raised by a Black Father and Filipina-Chinese mother, the young rapper turned to other mixed-race celebrity women for guidance. One of her biggest inspirations was Kimora Lee Simmons, who she mirrored her work ethic and drive after.
In the interview, Saweetie is honest about her humble beginnings. Prior to attending college at the University of California, the rapper’s high school years were filled with balancing sports, extra curriculums, and various jobs. When she was unable to afford to play sports, Saweetie’s hustler instincts took over.
“I remember I couldn’t afford to play sports my senior year, so I stood outside of a bank for like two days and asked for donations,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ve always been a hustler.”
“I know what it feels like to have nothing,” She adds. “I was broke. I struggled. I had odd jobs. I’ve had plenty of instances that humbled me. It keeps me in a state of gratitude because I know it can all be gone.”
In her college years, the “My Type” rapper did anything but slow down. While attending USC, she juggled five jobs, school and maintained a 3.6 GPA. It was during her last year of college that she recorded her first hit, “Icy Girl.”
A song the rapper now refers to as her affirmation song.
“When you work hard, practice positive thinking, and believe in yourself, you eventually get rewarded the things that do make you materialistically icy,” she says. “But icy has always been a mindset. All hustlers are icy.”
Although she likes luxurious things in life, Professor Icy wants to make sure everyone knows that she is more than just a pretty face.
“I love the glitz and glamour, but most of all, I like that money and I like handling my business,” she explains. “I’m just really excited to explore this business element of my career in 2021. So, yes, I’m a fashion girl. Yes, I’m an artist. But before any of that, I’m a businesswoman.”
Saweetie’s debut album, Pretty Girl Music, is set to release later this year.