Saucy Santana on breaking freed from the restrictions of virality : NPR

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For queer artists like Saucy Santana, viral fame can result in business quarantine



Miami rapper and social media icon Saucy Santana is redefining presentation requirements for femme homosexual males in hip-hop, however the business would relatively maintain his power confined to TikTok.

Dia Dipasupil


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Dia Dipasupil


Miami rapper and social media icon Saucy Santana is redefining presentation requirements for femme homosexual males in hip-hop, however the business would relatively maintain his power confined to TikTok.

Dia Dipasupil

This story was tailored from reporting for Episode 7 of Louder Than A Riot, Season 2. For extra about virality in hip-hop, together with the queer breakthrough and tried containment of the Materials Lady, Saucy Santana, stream the total episode or subscribe to the Louder Than A Riot podcast.

There is a lengthy lineage of hip-hop artists being punished throughout the tradition for popping out. However within the wake of acts like iLoveMakonnen dealing with backlash, stars like Kevin Summary, Younger M.A. and Lil Nas X have emerged, breaking down the homophobic obstacles that used to maintain them from taking heart stage. Saucy Santana is an enormous a part of that wave. The Florida-hailing makeup-artist-turned-rapper has been a outstanding presence in recent times, due to a collection of breakout viral bops on-line that smash by way of standard rap expectations. But when breaking by way of outdated obstacles means going into overdrive, how far can you actually go and not using a roadmap?

Previous-school queerphobia nonetheless reigns in rap — from Isaiah Rashad being outed by way of leaked intercourse tape in 2022 to DaBaby’s homophobic rant at Rolling Loud Pageant in 2021 — however that hasn’t prevented extra queer rappers from taking on area and making noise, even regardless of an absence of infrastructural assist. After choosing up rapping on the fly in 2019, and releasing his debut single, “Stroll ‘Em Like a Canine,” the glam Metropolis Ladies affiliate was spreading throughout TikTok by 2021 with songs like “Stroll,” “Right here We Go” and “Materials Lady.” Whereas hip-hop may see the worth in cashing in on Santana’s social capital, there was clear hostility to his unabashedly female presentation.

With a dominating presence in the most well-liked new social area, Santana hoped to parlay that virality into extra conventional success throughout the music business — i.e. a serious label deal. However as he headed into label conferences with a full-face beat, lavishly lengthy acrylics and a shaped-up beard, he discovered that the qualities that had been setting him aside have been now getting used towards him to carry him again. Main labels did not know what to ‘do’ with Santana.

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This double customary Santana faces rings much like what Black girls in rap additionally cope with. However the place Black girls have been allowed to exist solely in very particular areas, in very particular methods, brazenly homosexual, brazenly femme Black males like Santana have not been to exist in hip-hop in any respect.

The widespread floor that ladies and queer rappers share is that each are getting greater appears to be like than ever because of the energy of virality, but each have virality used towards them like they’re solely ok for quarter-hour of fame. For queer artists, there’s one other rule at play: preserving gayness at a distance by staying in your lane. And for Santana, that manifests as being handled like a joke or a development, being informed to modify up the issues that make him distinctive — or keep backstage as employed assist.

Within the period of social media stardom, going viral can be a direct pipeline to in a single day celeb. However historically, the phrase “virality” comes with a really particular connotation, one used for contagions. It’s saved for one thing highly effective but additionally thought of harmful, one thing that wants containing. Quarantining queerness to “virality” can maintain it from spreading and restrict its attain, permitting those that would suppress it to fake it is not already the inspiration of the tradition.

Louder Than A Riot host Sidney Madden spoke with Saucy Santana in regards to the double-edged sword of being dubbed a viral sensation, conjuring the magic of “Materials Lady” to make it final and his imaginative and prescient for the way forward for rap.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

Saucy Santana

Sidney Madden: What gave you the motivation to start out rapping?

Saucy Santana: I had began a podcast with a few of my mates and we’d go stay on Fb each Wednesday. And I used to be similar to, “We want a theme music. We have to simply make our personal music and let it play as an intro.” As soon as we launched the music, it began going viral within the metropolis. Everyone was like, “Oh, Santana, I did not know that you simply knew easy methods to rap.” I used to be like, “I ain’t know both.” I used to be simply, you recognize, placing one thing to the pad.

Lots of people, after I first began rapping, did not actually see the imaginative and prescient but, as a result of that is new. So, you recognize, usually that is simply our nature. You type of flip your again to issues that is overseas or issues that we do not perceive. It was naysayers that was like, will he make it being how he’s, regardless that he is proficient, or do we have to take his skills and alter him?

You’re employed arduous being such a game-changer. As this one who is an anomaly in hip-hop and setting new requirements for magnificence, new requirements for illustration, what are a few of the challenges and sacrifices that you simply assume individuals do not perceive?

For me, a few of the challenges, sacrifices, I’ve is being a pacesetter to my group. I’ve to observe what I say. I’ve to observe every thing I do, ‘trigger you do not wanna offend individuals. You don’t need individuals to really feel such as you’re not for them. And also you simply have to guide by instance. So I gotta all the time be my finest self to all of the individuals, particularly to my group.

Did you ever wanna be a pacesetter?

No, I used to be cool simply doing my very own factor. I do not get caught up in being the king and the queen and I am the perfect and all that. I simply be chilling.

You have achieved so many desires. I really feel such as you’ve lived like three lives. What has being a make-up artist taught you in regards to the rap recreation?

Angles. After I’m getting glam and stuff, I can inform the individuals like, “Hey, do it like this. Make me seem like this. I wanna seem like this.” I understand how it is gonna come up on digicam. I understand how it is gonna give you flash. So it helped me within the magnificence space of being a rapper. ‘Trigger, you recognize, being a rapper, you do quite a lot of glam — award reveals, music movies — you all the time in glam. So if I ever have a make-up artist that do not know what they doing, I may save myself as a result of I understand how to do make-up.

Do you keep in mind the primary time you noticed your self with a full face of make-up? The way it made you are feeling?

Again then it was quite a lot of pink lipstick. It was pink lipstick, pink hair, Nicki Minaj. I used to be combating to be taught my nude… I simply saved giving powdered doughnut.

Saucy Santana

Though I knew it was the flawed shade, I felt good. It made me really feel like a nasty b****. After I was rising up, I used to observe mother. My mother used to all the time go to the membership. So I used to observe my mama — new wigs, on a regular basis within the toilet, come out along with her make-up, slay, all that. So I was like, oh mother, you chilly, like mother about to exit. She look good. You simply really feel good. If you acquired your face beat, your hair did, like, you prepared. In order that’s simply what it gave me.

Discuss to me about being the homosexual boy on the block. What was the sensation?

Underestimated. The identical feeling I felt coming into rap. Having to achieve respect from different boys that was on the market trigger they felt like this isn’t what you are speculated to do. This isn’t what you are speculated to be doing. You are speculated to be someplace doing hair and make-up. You are not speculated to be out right here with us. Identical means coming within the rap recreation. You are not speculated to be a rapper. You are speculated to be doing one of many feminine rappers’ hair. You not speculated to be the one which’s rapping.

I keep in mind earlier than you bought signed, there was a lot chatter in regards to the numbers you was doing, how for those who have been feminine, you’d’ve already been signed. Did you peep any of that?

I had seen so many individuals come behind me. Folks was getting offers left and proper. Growth. Particularly women. And I used to be like, OK, I did it already just a few instances. What is the holdup?

Discuss that double customary.

I positively needed to work more durable to show myself as a result of that is one thing that hasn’t been executed earlier than. So individuals needed to know, Hey, he ain’t simply go viral or Hey, that is not simply Yung Miami finest good friend or, Hey, he is humorous or no matter. I needed to allow them to know, like, no, I acquired my very own profession and my very own entity. I am proficient and I am gonna make this work. And that is what I did.

I needed to work twice as arduous, simply so far as I needed to maintain making songs. I needed to maintain being related. I needed to maintain, you recognize, being in sure areas. I simply needed to do loads.

I seen individuals come out with like one music — it go viral and so they get a deal and so they label again them up and all that. I had “Stroll ‘Em Like a Canine.” I had “Materials Lady.” I had “Right here We Go.” I had “Again it Up.” I had “Up and Down.” I had a number of songs that was hits earlier than I acquired a deal after I had seen individuals simply come out with one music and so they’d be like, “Okay, come over right here. We finna provide you with a document deal.” And I used to be like, dang, I did that like 5 instances already.

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You assume quite a lot of it needed to do with, like, concern?

Sure, in fact. Folks not realizing what it’s. Folks not realizing how lengthy I might final. As a result of you recognize, rap is so quick these days. I solely been rapping since 2019. So, individuals was like, initially, can we promote him? He is female. He is dark-skinned, he is thick, he is homosexual, he is loud. Can we promote that? Will individuals purchase into it? Did he simply have a viral music?

‘Trigger virality, typically it robs you of really investing within the artist as a fan. If you happen to like somebody for a viral music, that does not imply you are gonna like them for every thing.

Precisely, it is up for the second. So, I needed to give individuals quite a lot of moments to let it know like, oh, OK. Like, you recognize, he is legit.

What do you assume the particular Saucy sauce is?

Florida gworl accent. Trigger we are saying GOWERRL, So it is like “materials gworl.” And everyone simply fell in love with it.

How do you are feeling about being dubbed a viral sensation?

I do not prefer it. I do not wanna be often called viral, ‘trigger I am being myself. After I’m within the studio, I am not considering, like, how may I’m going viral? Or after I put up issues, I am not considering, how may I’m going viral? I am being myself. I do know those that do issues to go viral; I am not one among them type of individuals. So I do not prefer to be a viral sensation. To me, viral is for the second, and I am right here to remain.

You do not take into account Nicki Minaj a viral rapper. You do not take into account Gucci Mane a viral rapper. You do not take into account Cardi B a viral rapper. I had individuals should take that out of my intros. Like, I am not no viral rapper. I am a rapper like everyone else. I made a number of songs. I made a number of hits. I made a number of impacts on individuals everywhere in the world. That is not viral. I’m who I’m. It is not calculated.

Did you ever encounter individuals in hip-hop who made you are feeling such as you needed to renegotiate who you’re and alter your presentation?

My workforce by no means made me really feel like I wanted to vary. It was simply individuals on the skin trying in. Like any individual advised that I acted as if I used to be bisexual. I used to be like, no. I acquired an enormous fanbase actually quick. Folks had already fell in love with Santana. … I do not like corny s***, and to me that was corny. I am homosexual. And I am Santana. I am gonna nonetheless get my nails executed. My face nonetheless gonna be beat. I haven’t got to play like I am bisexual, like I’ve a girlfriend, to impress no one.

What else are you enthusiastic about?

Simply the place I am gonna go now that I am signed to a serious label, my subsequent challenge, collabing with completely different individuals. The elevation all the time excites me. I really feel like yearly I elevate extra.

I am making an attempt to make my area wider. I do not wanna be the one homosexual boy that is a rapper. I need it to be an area for all us. That is the purpose of me doing this.

SM: What would you like the way forward for hip-hop to be?

Homosexual as f***.

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