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Honey Cocaine: Everything in Moderation

Honey Cocaine took a bullet for Tyga and all she has to show for it is this interview.

Photos courtesy of Honey Cocaine

Sometimes you come across a new artist who catches you off guard, the kind of artist who makes you get hop on Google and feel useless for missing their releases, sick flow, and unique style for so long. You wonder how they haven’t blown up yet and start telling everyone who will listen about your latest discovery. But for many rappers, no matter how technically gifted they may be, there’s nothing certain about success.


I first noticed Honey Cocaine sharing bars with Kid Ink on Dizzy Wright's mixtape track, "Fashion." She was a Toronto rapper of Cambodian descent standing next to American rappers. I was immediately struck by her confidence in “keeping it a hunnid.” She offered tight instructive verses on how to be fresh as fuck and she offered rhymes like, “Probably 80K on my fucking neck, / Just like the G-ist of the G's, n—a, show me respect.” This was late 2013, and I was already way behind.

More than a year before, LA rapper Tyga “discovered” Honey Cocaine on YouTube. This led to friendship, features and an invitation on his 2012 tour. One night at a show in Omaha, a fight broke out and Tyga's bus was shot in a drive-by. Honey got clipped in the arm. She recovered, but she later released the track “Shots Fired.” She won’t talk about Tyga, and, despite her claiming that they’re good friends, an actual deal with Tyga's label Last Kings never surfaced.

Since her debut Fuck Yo Feelings Vol #1, which featured Tyga, she's appeared on songs with Chanel West Coast and Tinashe. Last October, she released Like a Drug, her best and most well-produced project to date and has been releasing video after video since (some better than others). She splits her time between LA and Toronto, but right now she’s doing press in Guam.

Honey Cocaine is just one example of an artist who has all the skill, creativity, and appeal needed for commercial success yet occupies a non-commercialized space where she’s recognized and connected but not proportionally compensated.


“It might look like I made it,” she tells me over the phone while she folds laundry at her girl's house in Toronto. “Like, you look at Honey's followers and millions of views and Twitter, all that. It looks like it. But I'm still an unsigned, independent artist, and it's hard. It’s not like the 90s anymore. This isn’t some Biggie and Tupac shit where it’s all headlines and drama on major labels. Things have changed in rap. Most of us are doing this by ourselves. Like, really, it's just me, my manager Darren [Lopes], and my DJ [Power 106 LA's DJ Carisma]. And it’s really hard out here. But then, at the same time, I'm hard.”

Growing up in Toronto, Sochitta Sal learned English by watching BET's 106 & Park and started rapping at age ten by recording with her brother's computer software. “I love poetry, I always loved poetry. I loved that words could rhyme,” she says. She didn’t finish high school in order to pursue her rap career, which has always been her dream and the only thing she’s passionate about. Her rap persona developed with attitude and Compton inflections. Her themes included fashion labels, gang life, and the street hustle. I ask if she still hustles. “I'll put it this way,” she says, “No matter where I am, I'm connected to my family. They're my family, so whatever they're going through, I'm going through. That’s how I’ll say that.”

So Honey stays disciplined. In LA, she gets up, works out, eats well, records songs, goes to bed and repeats the next day. She sees that there’s a path to rap success, but there are illusions within the industry.


“I like living in LA. It's so chill. But I usually stay downtown by myself,” she says. “I get invited to all kinds of parties, and I go to them, and people are really nice, but then it's like, why would I hang at your party? You got 30 million in the bank?! I’m in your nice living room, but none of that shit is mine, you know? I'd rather be at home working on how I’m making my own 30 million. I don’t have time for that.”

In that sense, Honey's hustle is real, and so are the challenges of being an independent rapper. She’s felt pressure to prove she was “hard enough,” but then her abrasive character, exaggerated by her use of the n-word, was criticized: “If people get mad at me for saying nigga, or try to say I can't say nigga, that's just as ignorant as what they think I mean by it,” she explains, “Like, where I grew up, everyone I know, black, Asian, whatever, says nigga. I know it's controversial, but this is the world I grew up in.”

Now it seems she's over having to prove herself, and she's been bringing out more R&B hooks and melodies in her songs for wider appeal. She says that's the tone of The Gift Rap, her upcoming EP. “I realized I wanted to write about different things, like getting cheated on, or not wanting a relationship while being in love. I'm growing as an artist, like I mean, I’m already the best,” she says, “And The Gift Rap is like, you know, it's a gift done up nice, it's well-produced, it's wrapped, but it's rap. And it's different. It's a gift to my fans. They’re the most important. Your fans support you! That’s what matters.”

Nothing is promised, but Honey Cocaine says she won’t quit. She’ll just keep getting better until she’s on billboards across North America, Asia, and Europe. “I’m just gonna keep being myself and doing me, that’s my message,” she says. “I show that you can grow as an artist, but you have to be consistent. Like, my hair is pink, I don't have braces anymore, but I'm still me, I'm still Honey.” And what does it mean to be Honey? “Fuck bitches, get money. I’m gonna be worldwide. You’ll see.”

Adria Young is fangirling out right now. Follow her on Twitter.