In a matter of mere weeks, Natassia "Kreayshawn" Zolot has become a viral sensation who went from Internet oddity to possible million dollar signee. Her infectious anti-consumer anthem "Gucci Gucci" was posted on Youtube two weeks ago and already it's racked up nearly 1.5 million page views and counting.
Thanks to its success, Kreayshawn (pronounced Kray-shawn, a play on the word creation) has been courted by every major label and is rumored to have signed to Sony. But who is Kreayshawn?
We got on the horn with the 21-year-old California native to find out (though, you can always hit her Twitter, Tumblr, and Youtube page to get to know her better). We talked to her about everything from how she got into making music and directing videos, to why she doesn't agree with what Nicki Minaj represents, to her sexual orientation.
She also broke down the message behind "Gucci Gucci," her White Girl Mob comrades Lil Debbie and V-Nasty, and her relationship with Lil B and Odd Future. And of course there's the time she tried to rob Yung Berg...
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Growing Up In Oakland
Kreayshawn: “I was born in San Francisco and raised out in Oakland. I moved to Oakland when I was like 10 years old. I moved out to L.A. recently. I grew up in East Oakland, in this area called the Murder Dubs [San Antonio district in Oakland, California]. I was growing up in places like Tenderloin, Fillmore, Mission. Oakland is ghetto. I’ve lost friends, done shit that probably would have never happened if I lived anywhere else.
“Before that I was moving a lot because my mom was young. Can you imagine a 20-year-old woman with a three year old? I don’t want to say, “Yo I was a mistake” or nothing like that, but it was definitely hard for a single mom to raise a kid.”
“My mom was in a punk rock band called The Trash Women and they toured and all of that. She had me when she was 17. Growing up, I was staying at home getting babysat [while she was on tour]. There was definitely times where I missed my mommy, but that’s kind of sad to talk about right? [Laughs.] She had her life and I learned to be independent.
“She always put music around me. She inspired me to do this. She loves [what’s happening with me now.] She was like, ‘I love listening to your mixtape every day when I drive to work.’ She’s always texting me with updates of new articles that are out about me. She’s definitely been living this life with me the past couple days. [Laughs.]”
How She Started Making Music
Listen: The Trash Women f/ Kreayshawn "Boys Are Toys" (1995)
Kreayshawn: “When I was five years old, I made a very punk rock song with my mom. [Laughs.] The song was called ‘Boys Are Toys’ and it leaked on SoundCloud not that long ago. I remember my mom and my aunt were in the other room and I picked up the mic and went ham and was like, ‘Boys are toys!’ Then I just started going off on a rant.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, you’ve got to use that!’ I remember the process of going to the studio, recording over and over again, and them bribing me by taking me to Toys-R-Us. And I’m five years old like, ‘Where’s my publishing deal?’
“[When I was about 10] my mom’s boyfriend at the time had a DJ set and a keyboard to make beats. So me and my friend would just goof off all day making music and mixtapes for my friends.
“[I started taking rapping seriously] about a year ago. I was directing music videos for an artist and his manager heard some of my music and said, ‘Just take this seriously for a couple months and see where it goes.’ I’ve always been making music, all I really needed was someone to push me to put it out there. I ended up hitting him up like, ‘You know what? I’m serious about this.’ We got in the studio, we assembled our little team, and now we’ve got what’s going on."
Kreayshawn: “I definitely grew up watching all the girls that were coming out back then. Nicole Wray, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child. There was this huge place for women back then.
“You could say whatever you want and I feel like that’s really been lost. Beyonce’s still holding it down, but I feel like a lot of the people who’ve inspired me are not in the game anymore. I’m definitely just trying to bring back that voice, but I don’t want to do it alone. I want more girls to come.
“Honestly man, this is no disrespect to [Nicki Minaj] because she’s got talent. She’s got an image. But when it comes to inspiring young women, her message is to be a Barbie—to be plastic, to be fake, to all have blonde hair.
“All her fans try to dress up like her, be her, do their hair like her. And you have Lady Gaga and she calls all her fans Monsters. And ‘Everyone, be crazy!’ It’s not about being like the artist that you’re listening to. I think Nicki Minaj has the voice of the generation, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to be saying at this time.
“My whole thing is hopefully, when I come out, girls aren’t trying to dress like me. They’re taking their effort to go find their own style, own voice, and own brand like I did.”
Directing Videos and Attending Berkeley Film School
Kreayshawn: “I’ve always been filming. I had a VHS camera when I was like 10 years old. There’s video of me as a 10-year-old freestyling in my old neighborhood. Then three years ago, I just started messing around with iMovie and putting music behind stuff. Blogs started picking it up so I was just like, ‘I’m going to start getting into music videos.’
“I had a whole bunch of videos and I was trying to go to film school and I was applying to pay. I tried to get a loan and I got denied. My grandpa couldn’t help me get a loan. My mom tried and got denied. I was stuck. [The Dean of The Berkeley Digital Film Institute Patrick Kriwanek] saw my videos and he could tell what I was filming with in the ghetto. I told him, ‘Honestly, I don’t have enough money.’ He really liked me and he was like, ‘Me and my wife give out a scholarship every year to underprivileged kids. I’m going to talk to her and see if she thinks we should give you one.’
“In my head I was like, ‘I’m already going to this school. I’ve got this.’ I was buying my school supplies before he even gave me an answer. Then he called me and that was really life changing. I didn’t think I could get something like that, but that just showed me anything is possible. And look, it is.
“I didn’t graduate high school and they definitely asked me for [my high school diploma]. I had a scholarship so there wasn’t really any signing of papers. It was like, ‘Yeah, you can come to this school for free.’ It was a program where you learn everything really hardcore and quick for a year and then you spend the next year working on projects. It just wasn’t really the path meant for me. Me being me, and always having to change up every five seconds, I just got impatient. I had to spread my wings up out of there. I moved to L.A. not long after that.”
Kittys X Choppas
Her Mixtape Kittys X Choppas
Kreayshawn: “Most of those songs I already had previously, just because I’ve always been rapping. I’m like Lil B, I have thousands of freestyles for me and my friends to listen to. I have songs about working at Ikea that me and my friend made that we weren’t putting out. That was kind of what Kittys X Choppas was, a collection of me goofing off, but just more recent goofing off. It’s about feeling good, expressing yourself, and saying whatever you want to say.
“I always appreciate DJ Woogie. He was on Soulja Boy’s mixtapes and a whole bunch of other people’s mixtapes, and he did mine for free. He didn’t have to do that at all. I put a lot of work into it, trust me. But it was a lot of little things that other people did that made it to where it is and made it such a strong foundation that I can go get signed for just putting one video out.”
“Gucci Gucci” and Her Upcoming Project Left Eye
Kreayshawn: “That was made a couple of months ago and it was the point where we were taking everything really serious, no more goofing off and freestyling. We got our team together and we all worked on it. It’s not really to say ‘Fuck Louis’ or ‘Fuck Gucci.’ I have a Louis belt. Basically, it’s saying don’t let the labels make you who you are. Sprinkle it in there, but have your own style. At the same time we did that song, we made four other songs that aren’t out yet.
“Right now people are kind of confused. People don’t even know if ‘Gucci Gucci’ is real or not. We didn’t know it was going to be like this. We put it up, and when it hit 20,000 we were like, ‘Oh shit, 20,000!’ Then you read the comments and people are like, ‘We can’t tell if this is real or not. Is this some crazy Rebecca Black viral video gone hip-hop?’
“It’s something that people can’t comprehend. That’s why we just keep letting everyone watch it until it makes sense. I really want to put out another video and get something out as soon as I can to show that this isn’t a fake, and this is something really real that we can all have.
“It wasn’t like ‘Gucci Gucci’ came out and there was nothing behind that. There’s a whole bunch of videos and songs you can find. I think that’s what draws people in, because they can watch ‘Gucci Gucci’ and be like, ‘I don’t like this.’ But then look on my Youtube page and I’m a director. Then they’re like, ‘Oh I respect her, she’s a director. I love what she does directing.’ Or ‘I saw her graphic design. I love what she does with that.’
“If people love ‘Gucci Gucci’ then they’re really going to love Left Eye. There’s only a couple people who know about it, but they know that’s a hard hit right there. It went from being an album to a mixtape. We have to wait a couple days to figure out what we’re doing with everything. Whatever it’s deemed—an album or a mixtape—it’s going to be coming out fairly soon. We’ve got everyone’s ear and we want to stuff something in it while we have it.”
On Frequently Calling Women “Bitches” and “Hoes”
Kreayshawn: “It’s just to give it a girls side. Girls can have bitches too. Girls can have hoes too, ask V-Nasty. It’s not just for guys to say. I feel like if a girl says it, it’s less harsh and more funny.
“I used to have a radio show and one day we were playing this song where this guy was calling a girl a bitch and a hoe. A listener came into the station and they were like, ‘You’re playing music that’s not good for women to listen to,’ and that it was genderism and stuff like that. I was like, ‘Listen, you’re two guys. I’m a girl and I’m playing this. Go fuck off.’
“If I don’t feel bad listening to it, I’ll listen to it. You’ll find girls listening to the nastiest songs. A guy will be talking about putting it in her butt, getting her pregnant, and she’ll listen to that. And I feel like if a girl turns around and says something like that, it’s funny to a guy because it makes it less disgusting than when a guy might say it to you. It will balance out. But let a girl get a bitch one time, you feel me?”
On Not Using The N-Word
Kreayshawn: “I don’t use [the n-word] at all. It’s not in my vocabulary, especially not my everyday vocabulary. I’ll say it if I’m quoting or I’ll say it if I’m making fun of somebody else who is saying it. But Vanessa [a.k.a. V-Nasty] was raised different. She’s done a lot of stuff, you know?
“It’s different out here in the Bay Area. A Mexican will call an Asian person that. An Asian person will call a black person that. A black person will call a white person that and a white person will call him that back and it’s all good. You don’t think twice. It’s just another form of slang out here. People will say it, just like people will say “blood” and “cuz” in the same sentence out here.
“If you go anywhere else it’s a racial thing, because of that I don’t use it. I was on Twitter the other day and I said it quoting DMX. I even said it in the Tweet, ‘DMX voice.’ But since that ‘Gucci Gucci’ video there were bloggers picking it up and writing about it. That’s something that I don’t want to get all misconstrued.
“I told Vanessa, ‘If we’re going to be in the public eye all the time, you either need to know what you’re going to say when people ask you that or make it sound smart. Instead of just being like ‘Yeah, everybody call me that. I don’t give a fuck.’’ But I’m pretty sure Vanessa’s not going to bite her tongue for anybody. And I’m not going to bite my tongue for anybody. But just to say it? No."
Her Sexual Orientation
Kreayshawn: “As far as relationships go, it hasn’t really been on my mind. I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I’m not a raging lesbian, I can tell you that. I’m an occasional lesbian, but it’s more for me about a personal connection. I’m a creative person, I’m a busy person. I’m not seeking out anything be it color or gender, or anything. I’m just out here in the free world doing the free thing.
Meeting With Labels and Her Rumored Million Dollar Deal With Sony
Kreayshawn: “I’m pretty sure I’ve met with every freaking label known to man. Basically, I accidentally wandered into Interscope with my manager—he manages a whole bunch of different artists. We were going in for a different artist’s meeting. I walked in and all the interns already knew who I was, they’re the shit.
“The interns are hip and doing their job to let these big people know what’s going on in the industry. So I go in there and they’re all like, ‘Oh, Kreayshawn! Kreayshawn!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m at Interscope.’ That kind of shocked everyone. Like an hour after we left the meeting, we had three meetings with three other labels.
“It’s been like that for the past couple days. Just meeting everyone, talking to everyone, and they’re going crazy. We met with So So Def, Death Row. [Laughs.]. While I was tweeting that, people were hitting me up like, ‘Congratulations! I’m so proud of you Kreayshawn.’ I’m like, What are you people thinking? They haven’t been around in years! [Laughs.]
“Like, Yo, I’m signing to Murder Inc. I don’t care. [Laughs.] We’re definitely wanted. It’s just basically coming down to who we’re going with. It’s like picking a prom date, for life or something. But like I said, So So Def has made a really strong push. [Laughs.] I’m really close with Jermaine Dupri now. [Laughs.]
“[As far as the deal with Sony] nothing is finalized yet. But we’ve definitely been taking a whole bunch of meetings for the past week. We took meetings with every label. They’re not the only people we met with. We’ll make an announcement when everybody is ready, but right now, that’s basically just a rushed ahead rumor. It’s not that exciting. Whatever we end up choosing, it’s going to be a well-thought out decision.”
Whether Or Not She Tried To Rob Yung Berg
Kreayshawn: “That was a joke. We were just goofing off during All Star Weekend. There was a whole bunch of different kind of people walking around and me and my [friends] were just hyped up. We were playing around because Yung Berg has been robbed hella times. It was just funny because of how many times he’s been robbed. And a couple of times I’ve had folks see him and be like, ‘Yeah, he looks like a sucker.’ But we were just playing around, it wasn’t like I was about to take his chain. That shit probably ain’t even real.
“Not to say that we were about to go do that to anybody, but that is just something we think about because of where we come from. Like, ‘Ha, It’s Yung Berg, let’s snatch his chain!’ Like, I ain’t no dork. I’ve never snatched someone’s chain. I’m not about to just put myself on front street. But shit happens. Didn’t Waka Flocka just get his chain snatched by some broad? And she was like, ‘Yeah, we snatching all the chains off of everyone!’ They just do that shit. But I would never snatch Waka’s chain, I love him.”
Working With Lil B
Kreayshawn: “I’ve known him since 2009. One of the artists I was filming before, DB Tha General, Lil B was his biggest fan. Lil B was always hitting me up like, ‘Yo, tell DB Tha General I want to make songs with him. Help me get in contact with him.’ And DB’s crazy, he’s on his own hype. I don’t even think he understood what Lil B was trying to do.
“I ended up talking to him and there was one Lil B song out that I really liked. So I hit Lil B up on Facebook like, ‘Yo, you have this song called ‘Fuck Yo Hair.’ I really want to do a video for it in a wig shop.’ He was like, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for somebody to do a video for it.’ And I was already doing videos for one of his favorite artists, so it was like duh.
“We worked together and did ‘Like A Martian,’ we did the ‘Insane’ video, and we did the first ‘Basedworld 1989’ video. We definitely had a good creative relationship. He was an influence on me. I was starting to listen to his music and hanging out with him a lot when he was working on Rain In England.
“He definitely inspired me to throw stuff out there because there’s always going to be an audience for something. Whether it’s 100 people to hundreds of thousands, there’s always going to be an audience. I wasn’t really seeing it like that. I was just documenting like, ‘I’m keeping this for me.’”
Her Relationship With Left Brain & Odd Future
Kreayshawn: “I’ve known Left Brain for like four or five years. We’re all creative people so we all draw to each other. We had mutual friends and I’d always known him as a photographer before Odd Future.
“I remember when Odd Future first came out to San Francisco for their first show and they were all tiny little kids. I was like, ‘What! Look at all these tiny little kids! These little punk rock rebels.’ Jasper and Hodgy and all them, I really just met them when I moved to L.A. through smoking, going to parties, and hanging out on Fairfax.
“[Me and Tyler, The Creator] have met each other. But I’ve never had the chance to really have a conversation with him or anything like that. He’s a private guy. Right when I came to L.A. was when he was blowing up. But we’ve definitely been in the studio together and I definitely see him at parties and shit. We say what’s up, but he’s not like coming over for dinner. [Laughs.]”
Her Friend V-Nasty
Kreayshawn: “She’s not my real sister, that’s metaphorical. I’ve known her for like six years. It’s funny how we met because I was beefing with her cousin. It was a whole bunch of drama—we’re all like 15—and she calls me up talking hella shit. She doesn’t even know me, but she’s like, ‘What’s up bitch? I’m going to beat your ass.’
“So I was like, ‘Bitch come to my front door. Here’s my address. Come see me bitch.’ In my head I’m thinking this is some crazy ass bitch. Like, this bitch is going to show up at my door with a knife and slice me. I talked to my ex like, ‘What’s up with your cousin Vanessa? She hit me up trying to say she was going to fight me. Do I really have to fight a bitch now because of this?’ He was like, ‘Nah, don’t listen to her. She eight months pregnant.’
“He was like, ‘You can just hand her the phone, and say, ‘Here, scare the shit out of this bitch.’ I met her three days after that phone call and she was just this pregnant white chick laying smack on this couch. She was like, ‘I’m not really a bad girl, I just be fucking around.’ Now that I know her, I know that she was not serious. She was just goofing off because she will beat your ass. Maybe eight months pregnant too, you never know, she could be serious. [Laughs.]
“She’s beyond entertainment. We’ll be at the gas station and somehow she’ll scare the gas station attendant just asking for a bag. That’s just her way of having fun. But I wasn’t scared. I was like, ‘Bitch, you can meet me there.’ I wasn’t scared of her and she wasn’t scared of me, so making friends is of course something that would happen. I can’t say why she was in jail though, that’s a personal question. When you can’t keep your hands on your own stuff and to yourself you’re going to get a strike somewhere.”
Her DJ Lil Debbie
Kreayshawn: “Back in the Myspace days this dude hit me up like, ‘Hey Jordan.’ He was having a conversation with me like I’m named Jordan, so I’m like, ‘What the hell? I don’t know no chick named Jordan. You’re fucking crazy.’ And he was like, ‘Bitch, you stole Jordan’s pictures.’ I was like, ‘What? These are pictures of me. What are you talking about stealing peoples pictures?’ I was so confused. I was living with my friend at the time and I was like, ‘Look at this.’ She’s like, ‘That dude’s my boyfriend.’
“So we called him up and he was like, ‘Yo there’s this girl in Albany and she looks just like you.’ Albany is a town a couple cities over from Berkeley. We were hearing about each other and we ended up meeting. Not only did we look exactly alike, but we were into the same things and the same age so we instantly clicked. I already knew Vanessa, so we all started to hang out and basically we’ve been bickering like sisters ever since."
Relationship With Soulja Boy
Kreayshawn: “Soulja was hanging out with Lil B and Lil B was telling him about me. I had talked to him on Twitter before. So we went over there and Taco [from Odd Future] ended up coming by which was hella random. It was just a whole bunch of kids hanging out. Everybody’s hating on the video and shit, the comments I can’t even read them. We’re literally just hanging out and having fun. What the fuck do you want from us?”
On working with Dame Grease
Kreayshawn: “He reached out to me about seven of eight months ago. I heard of Dame Grease because of Max B. When I told my manager I was working with him he was like, ‘What the hell? You’re working with him because of Max B? This fool’s done work for everyone! For Mary J. Blige, DMX, all these people, and you only care about Max B?’ [Laughs.] I was like, ‘Come on man. Max B is wavy!’ So I got the chance to work with him, he came out to L.A. and we all hung out. So that’s definitely the Godfather right there.”