It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, and Saweetie is busy. It’s a story told in Instagram stories and social media asides: photos of names on studio doors welcome artists into Pretty Bitch Music, her much-anticipated debut record, stoking speculation from her ever-involved fans. Today, Dreezy is in the house; tomorrow, Swae Lee calls in.
Right now, however, Saweetie is taking a call. A leopard-print Von Dutch cap tops her ice-blue hair, a gold chain bearing her name swings from her neck. “I'm in the middle of recording my album right now, so it's going really great over here,” she tells us over Zoom, flanked by the white walls of her multi-room studio. “I'm really grateful,” she says of her roster of guests. “The creativity is at an all time high at the studio, so I'm excited!”
Given the grind, you’d hardly pick she’s up for two Grammys, including Best Rap Song for hit empowerment anthem Best Friend, in less than a week. Saweetie says she’s feeling “very excited,” but leaves it there. In the studio, in the booth, she pores over tracks, carefully honing them with pop precision.
It’s been a long time coming — ever since Tap In made an icy splash in 2020 — but Saweetie is content taking her time with Pretty Bitch Music. “I do that ‘cause I've done a lot of things wrong in the beginning, and I learned my lesson,” she says of that careful approach, one that sees singles drop few and far between. Her most recent, the silky duet “Closer,” proves yet again that she needn’t trade perfectionism for speed.
The seductive, high-flying single marks the first time Saweetie and H.E.R. have worked together, but it sounds as though it won’t be the last. “It was actually really exciting,” she said of the Vallejo singer-songwriter, with whom she shares Filipino heritage. “She's amazing, and she's actually even better in person. So I had so much fun shooting a music video, and I think I could definitely see us collaborating on more songs in the future.”
The vibrant music video, directed by Hannah Lux-Davis, sees Saweetie and H.E.R. put their spin on Pan-Am glamour, stopping from Paris to Tokyo to The Philippines. As stylish co-pilots for Icy Airlines, H.E.R. and Saweetie glide from date to date on a high-flying, globe-trotting vacation. “It's our third project together,” she says glowingly of Lux-Davies, who recently worked on Saweetie’s ‘Get It Girl’ partnership with Champion, but has otherwise helmed iconic clips like thank u, next, Good Ones, and Say So.
It’s hardly surprising that Saweetie is quick to hail her “great team,” given the love she has for her collaborators and fellow creatives. She recently hosted an International Women’s Day Virtual Concert for Cool Accidents, sharing the e-stage with international acts and local artists alike. “I can't wait ‘til there's a time where I can actually be there in person, because that's what I like to do,” she says excitedly. “I'm a very in-person type of girl.”
Online, no distance could keep a dizzying roster of female talent from joining Saweetie, with acts from the world over tapping in for the show. Beaming in from across the globe were singer-songwriter extraordinaire Tayla Parx, English R&B up-and-comer Griff, LA punk group The Regrettes, searing Atlanta emcee bktherula, Massachusetts talent Raiche, and LA rapper Ncognita. Australia and New Zealand artists joined as well, with Melbourne R&B talent Pania, New Zealand emcee JessB, and Sydney singer-songwriter Liyah Knight performing.
“I think that it's important to show love to all cultures,” explains Saweetie of her global ear. “When I hear about other women in other countries, other cities, other locations doing their thing, especially when they add some sauce to my pot, it makes me happy.” It’s not hard to see how Pania, whose late-night R&B flaunts that Icy flair, fits into Saweetie’s own icy vision.
It’s a love that’s manifested in a string of diverse “Best Friend” remixes, one of which features standout verses from JessB and Australian vocalist OKENYO. Speaking on those two talents, Saweetie explains that it’s “when they're glowing when they're being their most authentic form of themselves” that an artist catches her eye.
It’s sharp bars that catch her ear, like JessB’s “she be quicker online than the FBI,” which Saweetie fangirled over on a call with the emcee, setting her up with a “bessie in a tessie” for her efforts. “Getting the girls together across the world, we love to see it,” said JessB of the remix; “the song is empowering fire and a damn right bop, I just wanted to join the party,” added OKENYO. Their verses are bold, bristling with assurance and bombast, and as Saweetie explains, it’s no mistake: “I like to collaborate with other women who are like me.”
International meet-ups and jetsetting exploits might just be a music video, but as Saweetie speaks on studio sessions and virtual concerts, it’s clear she’s plotting on her own international adventures. “When it's safe to travel, I would love to go out [to the Philippines] and shoot a music video,” she says, mulling over a return to real stages, “especially with these new songs.”
“I think that it’s an opportunity for me to reconnect with my fans, because performing to green screens is not fun,” she says, shifting her gaze to the bright future: “I definitely need all that pretty bitch energy in person!”