After finding music through the underground poetry scene in her city, the self-proclaimed Swamp Princess and ‘What It Is’ singer has recently made her debut on the Billboard Charts, and was honoured as Billboard’s 2023 Women in Music Rising Star earlier this year.
Although Doechii may be a relatively new name on everyone’s lips, the Tampa native has been releasing music since 2015 and is now cementing herself on a trajectory as one of the most successful female rappers to come up. Defining Doechii singularly as a rapper however doesn’t do her artistry justice. She is a rapper, singer, dancer, actor and entertainer, sharing that music gives her the confidence to be herself. And whilst she doesn’t want to give too much away about her upcoming project—Doechii says she has a summer album in the works with flows you can make memories to.
Whilst she follows in the footsteps of the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q on the TDE roster, Doechii is trailblazing and resetting the tone as the first TDE female rapper signee and through this next chapter, Doechii says she is ready to evolve, push boundaries and leave a legacy that feels limitless.
Through our interview, Doechii shares the moment she realised she was ‘that bitch’, speaks to her soft and vulnerable side, and explains what her and alligators have in common.
Congratulations on the huge success of ‘What It Is’. What about this project has been the most affirming and brought you the most joy?
I think it entering the Billboard charts and being one of the most popular songs in America right now. It’s really cool. It’s my first achievement. That’s been a really joyous moment for me and my team.
Has there been a pivotal moment for you in your artistry where you realised like “I really am that bitch”?
Probably when I dropped my first single debut ‘Crazy’. When I dropped that, it wasn’t even about the numbers or anything. It was about the music video and entire rollout which I thought was really magnificent.
When you do you feel most in your power sonically?
When I’m yelling. I like making a lot of aggressive chanting music, or even house music. Just like high energy fast tempo music is when I feel most powerful.
You’ve shared so many facets of yourself through your art, and you’re acting now as well which is really cool. Are there parts of yourself that you feel you haven’t yet expressed or that you keep reserved for yourself?
Yeah, there are certain genres I haven’t tapped into yet, and like in acting there are so many different roles I could probably portray. There are different emotions that people haven’t seen from me yet. There’s a soft vulnerable side I haven’t fully let out. I think I did a little bit in one of my songs ‘Yucky Blucky Fruitcake’, but even then, I haven’t shown a lot of soft vulnerability just yet. There’s lots of different sides [to me] that people haven’t experienced yet that I’m excited to let out as my career progresses.
I read that you were writing poetry before you were rapping. Can you speak to this a little?
Yeah I started off in poetry. I was doing spoken word and I was singing, so I wasn’t really thinking about rapping and then I got immersed into the underground scene in my city, through poetry. And that kind of merged and blended into rapping very easily because poetry is just rapping acapella [Laughs], so that kind of turned into that and now I’m here.
What is the creative process like for you? How do you tap into your emotions and experiences and translate them into music?
I like to get really present. It’s all about energy. You hear that word a lot because it’s become cliché. But you just tap into an energy and have fun. I think that making music and art in general is about becoming a master of evoking emotions and to portray an emotion for people in whatever art facet you are doing. I think I’ve just become really good at that and hopefully I become better.
I know that you’re working on a new project, and you get asked about it a lot! I respect you don’t want to give too much away—but is there anything you can about your upcoming album?
There’s not much I wanna share about the concept, but there’s a lot of energy [in the album], and a lot of really cool producers that are a part of it. It’s a summer album meant for summer days and fun nights, and it’s an album you can make memories to. Whether you are invested in me as an artist or not, it’s music you can feel and have fun to.
We’re all super excited for that! I want to talk about TDE and being the first female rapper signed to them. I understand it comes with a responsibility and I wondered, what legacy or imprint do you want to leave?
There’s so many things. I want to leave a legacy that feels limitless. It’s about feelings. It’s not so much about what I wanna say, or some righteous torch that I’m going to hand to somebody, it’s more like I just wanna be as creative as I possibly can, and not limit myself in any way. I think all the artists signed to TDE have this reputation of being super creative and very conscious and intentional with their music. So, I want to continue that and evolve it, push boundaries and break rules.
I may just be projecting my experience here but in Australia as a First Nations woman, there’s often an expectation to be resilient and thick skinned. I know it is shared by a lot of Black women across the world—needing to be thick skinned and I refer to earlier in our interview you were talking about vulnerability and softness. How do you leave space for softness, joy, and vulnerability in your life?
I think I’ve reached the point where music fortunately has given me confidence to just be myself no matter what archetype I’m sitting in at the moment. And I actually am very soft, but I’m also very strong and I don’t commit to one identity. Sometimes people have expectations of Black women to commit to the strong identity, and that’s it. But I am strong and I’m goofy and soft, and emotional and I cry about the most ridiculous things. You have no idea! I just cried about a couch the other day. I stained the couch [Laughs]. That’s just me; I just let myself be whoever I am in that moment. And I think that’s what it’s about. It doesn’t mean I’m not strong, or that I have to commit to one identity. I’m all things. I think my music kind of reflects that too. I don’t commit to one genre. One genre doesn’t define who I am, it’s just who I was in that moment.
What’s the greatest gift that music has given you?
Music has given me the confidence and freedom to really embrace myself. People find different ways to embrace themselves. Some women embrace themselves when they have children, and they find and define themselves as women when they have children or when they get a certain job or whatever. They use some type of outlet to practice being themselves, and music is my way of exercising being myself. It’s given me a safe space to just figure out who I am.
What’s your wildest dream?
My wildest dream is to quit. That’s really it. One day I want to have the bravery to just quit, to just stop; quit proving something, quit chasing something, just be. That’s my ultimate wildest dream just to quit and stop and be. And just really be at peace and still.
I know you’re the self-proclaimed Swamp Princess, the Queen Insti-Gator and your fans across the world are your Gay-tors. For Australian readers, what can you share about alligators, and what do they embody for you?
I read this fact a long time ago and I don’t know how accurate it is [Laughs]. I was doing research and it said that alligators are the closest thing to dinosaurs, like kind of less evolved dinosaurs and I thought that was cool because it represents that they have stood the test of time and have been able to evolve during toughest of times and somehow, they are still here. I feel like that really represents me as a person, the resilience of those animals. I think it is really beautiful and cool.