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

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

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

Miami rapper and social media icon Saucy Santana is redefining presentation requirements for femme homosexual males in hip-hop, however the trade would relatively preserve his vitality 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 trade would relatively preserve his vitality 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 Woman, 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 boundaries 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, because of a sequence of breakout viral bops on-line that smash by typical rap expectations. But when breaking by previous boundaries means going into overdrive, how far can you actually go and not using a roadmap?

Outdated-school queerphobia nonetheless reigns in rap — from Isaiah Rashad being outed through leaked intercourse tape in 2022 to DaBaby’s homophobic rant at Rolling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 help. After selecting up rapping on the fly in 2019, and releasing his debut single, “Stroll ‘Em Like a Canine,” the glam Metropolis Women affiliate was spreading throughout TikTok by 2021 with songs like “Stroll,” “Right here We Go” and “Materials Woman.” 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 trade — i.e. a significant 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 in opposition to him to carry him again. Main labels did not know what to ‘do’ with Santana.


This double normal Santana faces rings just like what Black ladies in rap additionally take care of. However the place Black ladies have been allowed to exist solely in very particular areas, in very particular methods, overtly homosexual, overtly femme Black males like Santana have not been to exist in hip-hop in any respect.

The frequent floor that ladies and queer rappers share is that each are getting greater seems than ever as a result of energy of virality, but each have virality used in opposition to them like they’re solely adequate for quarter-hour of fame. For queer artists, there’s one other rule at play: conserving gayness at a distance by staying in your lane. And for Santana, that manifests as being handled like a joke or a pattern, being instructed 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 movie star. 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-about harmful, one thing that wants containing. Quarantining queerness to “virality” can preserve 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 concerning the double-edged sword of being dubbed a viral sensation, conjuring the magic of “Materials Woman” 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 begin rapping?

Saucy Santana: I had began a podcast with a few of my pals and we might go stay on Fb each Wednesday. And I used to be identical to, “We’d like 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. All people was like, “Oh, Santana, I did not know that you simply knew learn how to rap.” I used to be like, “I ain’t know both.” I used to be simply, , placing one thing to the pad.

Lots of people, once I first began rapping, did not actually see the imaginative and prescient but, as a result of that is new. So, , typically that is simply our nature. You sort 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, despite the fact that he is proficient, or do we have to take his skills and alter him?

You’re employed onerous being such a game-changer. As this one that 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 suppose folks do not perceive?

For me, a few of the challenges, sacrifices, I’ve is being a pacesetter to my neighborhood. I’ve to look at what I say. I’ve to look at all the things I do, ‘trigger you do not wanna offend folks. You don’t need folks 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 greatest self to all of the folks, particularly to my neighborhood.

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 one of the best and all that. I simply be chilling.

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

Angles. After I’m getting glam and stuff, I can inform the folks like, “Hey, do it like this. Make me appear like this. I wanna appear like this.” I understand how it is gonna come up on digicam. I understand how it is gonna provide you with flash. So it helped me within the magnificence space of being a rapper. ‘Trigger, , being a rapper, you do quite a lot of glam — award exhibits, 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 bear 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 study my nude… I simply saved giving powdered doughnut.

Saucy Santana

Regardless that I knew it was the flawed coloration, I felt good. It made me really feel like a nasty b****. After I was rising up, I used to look at mother. My mother used to all the time go to the membership. So I used to look at 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 bought your face beat, your hair did, like, you prepared. In order that’s simply what it gave me.

Speak 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 presupposed to do. This isn’t what you are presupposed to be doing. You are presupposed to be someplace doing hair and make-up. You are not presupposed to be out right here with us. Similar manner coming within the rap recreation. You are not presupposed to be a rapper. You are presupposed to be doing one of many feminine rappers’ hair. You not presupposed to be the one which’s rapping.

I bear in mind earlier than you bought signed, there was a lot chatter concerning the numbers you was doing, how when you have been feminine, you’ll’ve already been signed. Did you peep any of that?

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

Speak about that double normal.

I positively needed to work tougher to show myself as a result of that is one thing that hasn’t been executed earlier than. So folks needed to know, Hey, he ain’t simply go viral or Hey, that is not simply Yung Miami greatest pal or, Hey, he is humorous or no matter. I needed to allow them to know, like, no, I bought 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 onerous, simply so far as I needed to preserve making songs. I needed to preserve being related. I needed to preserve, , being in sure areas. I simply needed to do rather a lot.

I seen folks 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 Woman.” 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 bought a deal once I had seen folks simply come out with one music and so they’d be like, “Okay, come over right here. We finna provide you with a file deal.” And I used to be like, dang, I did that like 5 instances already.


You suppose quite a lot of it needed to do with, like, worry?

Sure, after all. Individuals not figuring out what it’s. Individuals not figuring out how lengthy I’d final. As a result of , rap is so quick these days. I solely been rapping since 2019. So, folks was like, to start with, 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 folks purchase into it? Did he simply have a viral music?

‘Trigger virality, generally it robs you of really investing within the artist as a fan. For those who like somebody for a viral music, that does not imply you are gonna like them for all the things.

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

What do you suppose the particular Saucy sauce is?

Florida gworl accent. Trigger we are saying GOWERRL, So it is like “materials gworl.” And all people 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 referred to as viral, ‘trigger I am being myself. After I’m within the studio, I am not pondering, like, how may I am going viral? Or once I publish issues, I am not pondering, how may I am going viral? I am being myself. I do know those that do issues to go viral; I am not considered one of them sort of folks. So I do not wish 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 folks need to take that out of my intros. Like, I am not no viral rapper. I am a rapper like all people else. I made a number of songs. I made a number of hits. I made a number of impacts on folks everywhere in the world. That is not viral. I’m who I’m. It is not calculated.

Did you ever encounter folks in hip-hop who made you are feeling such as you needed to renegotiate who you might be and alter your presentation?

My workforce by no means made me really feel like I wanted to vary. It was simply folks on the surface wanting in. Like anyone advised that I acted as if I used to be bisexual. I used to be like, no. I bought an enormous fanbase actually quick. Individuals 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 significant label, my subsequent challenge, collabing with totally different folks. 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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