At the beginning of 2011, Kreayshawn was uploading homemade YouTube videos, wondering where her rent money was coming from. Now she’s a pop culture lightning rod before she’s even released an album. How will one of the buzz cycle’s wildest creations handle the spotlight?
This feature appears in Complex's October/November 2011 issue.
"Why do I keep getting dissed and gotta ignore it like nothing is going on?”
It’s late July and Kreayshawn is on set at a photo shoot in New York’s Flatiron District. This year’s female white rap phenom has just been told she’s on the receiving end of a verbal attack from Game on his shots-at-everyone diss record “Uncle Otis.” He threatens to shove an assault rifle in her face if she uses the N-word again. “I’ve never said it one time in my motherfucking life,” she insists. She says it’s V-Nasty, her “sister” and partner in White Girl Mob—their brash, perversely fabulous rap trio also consisting of DJ Lil Debbie—who uses the word.
“Everyone thinks I’m Vanessa [V-Nasty] and I have to answer [for her actions] every day in every fucking interview,” vents the frustrated 22-year-old. Apparently Kreayshawn has tried to intervene, to no avail. “I’ve sat down and had talks with her, like, ‘Please, if you took this word out of your vocabulary, it would help your career. It would really help mine.’ She’s just been like, ‘This is who I am. This is how I was raised. I’m not gonna change for anybody,’ and I respect that. She doesn’t have to listen to me. It’s just hard if we’re all mobbing together and everyone thinks I use it, too. That’s when you have to step away or find a way to work around it.”
Kreayshawn, born Natassia Zolot, would like to deal with Game more directly. “I wanna slap a grown-ass man in the face,” she says, defiantly. She then lightens the mood, joking about calling 50 Cent, but gets aggravated when her manager, Chioke “Stretch” McCoy, advises her not to respond.
Am I just supposed to get dissed every day and be a weak ass little white b*tch? I’m tired of people disrespecting me.
She counters with another plan of action. “I’m going to say, ‘Game’s a weak ass Blood, he ain’t about to do shit.’” That also doesn’t go over well with Stretch, a charismatic, hulking black guy whose pedigree includes Mac Dre and Mistah F.A.B. She pushes back. “Am I just supposed to get dissed every day and be a weak ass little white bitch? Fuck that shit. I’m tired of people disrespecting me.”
Cooler—and more media-savvy—heads prevail, and Kreayshawn never responds publicly. She’s still learning that scrutiny and unpredictability are part of the overnight sensation package. It’s been a whirlwind year for Kreayshawn. In January, she recorded “Gucci Gucci,” an insanely catchy ode to independence from designer labels. In May, she uploaded its hipper-than-thou video to YouTube, and it became an Internet sensation, picking up 11 million page views by August. Along the way, Kreay pocketed a seven-figure record deal from Sony, leaving fans and hecklers alike wondering how it all happened.
Kreayshawn is surprised herself. “I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” she says. “I thought I was going to still struggle to pay rent.” One song—admittedly, one damn good song—and a zeitgeist-capturing video, and the tattooed girl from East Oakland’s star was born.