Photo courtesy Lil Debbie
The Bay Area has become known for being home to many original influencers and creatives within the music industry. People like Too $hort, E-40, Keak Da Sneak, and the regions proclaimed thizz-faced legend Mac Dre are just a few of the solid foundations in Bay Area music. This year will make it ten years officially since the eclectic wave of the hyphy movement, a dance-crazed, energetic lifestyle that was birthed out of Bay Area music. Since then the unique sound has lived on through the sonic production of popular mainstream singles out of the area. Five years ago the epic video “Gucci Gucci” released, the odd base-filled rap song echoed outer space sonic effects with some occasional cats meowing in the background. It’s safe to say it was a bit strange at the time and still kind of is but soon enough the cyber world became familiar with the White Girl Mob out of Oakland, California. The all female group included artists Kreayshawn, Lil Debbie, and V-Nasty, three pals hailing from Oakland and Berkeley, California.
Since emerging alongside Kreayshawn and V-Nasty as part of the Bay Area-bred White Girl Mob five years ago, Lil Debbie has worked hard to create a lane of her own. The rapper, model, and fashion designer born Jordan Capozzi has released a slate of solo projects and collaborations with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Riff Raff, and Paul Wall. The kush princess recently came through the VICE LA office for an episode of Noisey Radio on Beats 1 to talk her long-awaited self-titled debut album, girl power, and the influence of Bay Area culture on her music.
Listen to her interview on Noisey Radio on Beats 1, and read on for an extended version of our conversation below.
NOISEY: Let’s talk about the new album, Debbie. Describe some of the producers on there and what that process was like.
Lil Debbie: I’ve been working on it for like a year. It was a really long process. I thought this album was going to kill me. As far as picking beats, I’m very picky. I tend to try to work with people who are up and coming, people that I like. I don’t really try to work with [just] anybody, I’d rather work with one of my friends [who] I think has dope music rather than just to work with a popping name.
Would you take a call for submissions ever?
Honestly I reach out via Twitter or Instagram, or I’ll hit up my manager like "Yo, I think this producer is tight, could we holler at them?" There’s a number of ways to go about it. If I think someone I know knows somebody I’ll hit that person like hey, I’m interested in doing music with this person. I’m also very lucky and know a lot of people already, like I know a couple of people that worked on Drake’s project, so I’m blessed with a good surrounding of people.
When you’re around Riff Raff and all the different collaborators, did it inspire you to take any of that process into your own records, like "Alright, it’s album time"?
Well, working with Riff was very different. I learned a lot from Riff, but it was very guerilla style. What I’m used to doing is one song and put it out, or four songs and put it out [on an EP] or a mixtape. I feel like a mixtape is less serious than an album. This was very serious for me, and because of working with Riff, I wasn’t really prepared for the seriousness of making an album. When you're working with Riff, it’s just completely rockstar status, you’re on the spot, on the go, you do it and you do it now, we’re not doing it later. You look like what you look like, and we’re shooting what we’re shooting, there’s no "This is the treatment, this is what we’re going to do in a month." So it was very planned out and my management was not taking any shit for me.
Talk about that track you did with him, "Michelle Obama."
I just fuck with Michelle Obama, that bitch is mad tight. She’s loyal, she’s appreciated. But no, you know, with "Michelle Obama," it’s just about being presidential, doing fly luxury shit. That’s what Riff’s about—he just wants to do fly luxury shit. He’s got the Codeine Castle and all of that, but he’s been like that. He’s from Texas, everything’s big. That’s why he acts like that, it’s in his culture. So "Michelle Obama" is just about doing everything big and fly. We did that while he was running for president, or had just become president.
Is Riff on the new album at all, you still talk to him?
Yeah, once in awhile. It’s weird for me, because me and Riff have never been a thing, so people always ask me, "Where’s Riff at?" And it’s five years later like, I don’t fucking know, why would I know that? That’s my friend, I’m not with him everyday, because I’m not his girlfriend. We have different lives and do different things. But Riff is fun, he’s very nice. The one thing about Riff is he may be wild, but he’s fucking nice, he’s pro-peace. He doesn’t even tolerate shit he doesn’t like, he’ll just ignore it. It’s not even a discussion. So he’s dope like that. He’s doing his thing at the Codeine Castle.
Let’s talk about the cover of the album.
The cover was done by my friend Lamont. I met him through another artist, Softest Hard, and she’d done work with him. I actually shot with four or five different photographers for my cover. I picked this cover because it was simple and to the point. I’m grown now. It’s different from "Gotta Ball," I’m an adult now. I’ve grown up in the eye of the internet, and everybody has seen me grow. I don’t know have my acrylics anymore, I don’t have my weave, my extensions, I don’t go tanning in the tanning beds anymore, so this picture just captured me perfectly. I got a little attitude, my body looks banging, and honestly that’s the type of shit I wear all of the time—Vans, shorts and a T-shirt, and that’s probably one of my signature looks. I didn’t want to re-enact a place in time, I wanted to show where I was at presently. That’s why the album is called Debbie, because it’s where I’m at right now. It’s like here I am world, adult Debbie, rated XXX [_Laughs._] No, I’m playing. There’s also a surprise photo in there. It’s a little more sexy and sensual, it’s a good time. It’s going to be on the back.
Talk about creating your record "F-That."
"F-That" is definitely a song for people who are fed up with the shit, this song I threw shots at radio, at bitches, other female rappers, I threw lots of shots in the song I’m calling everybody out. I kind of didn’t let anybody live on this shit this song is heavy for me because it's very personal I’ve spent a lot of my time really creating and I don’t think a lot of people really know how the industry works especially the music industry they don’t understand who works for who, what works for what, how it works at all and this is kind of me being like fuck everybody who’s never really fucked with me. All I know is that everything I’ve ever done, my beats have never been wack I listen to what male rappers say on the radio and sometimes they say trash ass simple shit, like Barney, 123 type shit and people eat it up it’s bullshit. Especially because somebody wrote that for them that’s what even crazier and then people come for me and don’t even realize how hard I’m working, what I do or don’t write is none of your business and you’re listening to radio anyways and eating up some shit somebody wrote for them. Even underground dudes get shit written for them it’s fucking crazy so this song is really ruthless it’s really like I’m here, I’m staying, and I’m about to create and do what the fuck I want to do. and I came for heads it’s not a song I played with.
Talk about "Tell Me" and how that track came together.
Njomza, I saw her a year-and-a-half ago, and I heard her music and I think she’s really fucking dope and very underrated. She writes all her own music, puts in all her own work, and she’s very beautiful and headstrong. I fuck with her, I’ve always wanted to do something with her and it never really worked out until now. What had happened is one of my managers ran into her at a studio session one time and showed her this beat. She liked it and came up with some ideas, and was like you should listen to it. I was like, "Let me get on this." This song is more of a softer side of me, because as much as I’m a tough bitch and very headstrong, I also have a love life and I don’t really talk about it a lot. Most of the time I’m like, "Fuck guys," so this is about me having a crush, and that’s why it was fun to do it with her, because it’s about being girls and liking somebody and not wanting to wait for answers. We want answers now, like do you want to fuck with me or no? Do you want to treat me like a princess, or no? Yes or no? Tell me.
Do you try to actively give that message to other women?
I just try to portray the strongest female presence, period. I don’t want women to take shit. You don’t have to take shit, you don’t have to be stressed out, and you don’t have to waste your time, no matter how small you are. No matter what color you are, what weight you are, no matter what it is as a woman, you fucking run the world. Women can sell vagina. A woman is not going to buy dick. I might when I’m old and shriveled up without a husband [_Laughs_]. I’m just kidding, but women are fucking amazing in all aspects, so we need to make that known. Guys are always talking about fucking bitches and flipping bitches, but really what would you be without a bitch? I do shows all the time, and it’ll be like one or two girls with eight guys.
You bring all the girls on stage with you when you perform.
Yeah, I like to have my girls up on stage. I haven’t been doing it as much recently because it gets weird real quick, then you gotta be like, "Whoa slow down girl," but I try to bring the girls on stage who want to have fun. I don’t care what you look like.
Talk about "My Level."
"My Level" is just about being a bossy bitch. Like get on my level, ain’t none of you bitches on it, honestly. When I sit down with people, I have to explain to them what my job is. I have to tell them what I do and it’s hard, it’s hard to make money as what I am, and I’m very grateful for where I am and what I’ve been doing. I feel very underrated, and I feel like people are very mean to me sometimes about my music. Honestly it’s kind of like, if you were me, if you were literally in my skin, my body, my shoes, could you do what I’m doing though? If you were another one of me but not me, could you do this? And could you pull this off? Because I don’t think you can. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to really do this, but I’m grateful for it. I’ve put in my time and I’m not just pulling shit out of my ass. This is the shit I fucking live, and I’m from the Bay. I was born in Oakland, and lived in Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, you know what I’m saying? I lived all over the place. I’ve lived in Downtown LA, but what matters is what you go through. I’ve just learned a lot from growing up in the Bay, more from the people around me, less where I’m from. I grew up going to side shows, painting up buildings. I still have friends in the Bay that still do graffiti. This is a whole lifestyle, not just from the fucking middle of nowhere, this is who I am. I’ve been smoking weed for damn near thirteen years of my life, it’s not a fucking joke. This is just about get on my level. Can you do it? Are you with it? Are you down? Can you handle it? Get on my fucking level.
Describe the Bay Area sounds.
I feel like the Bay has a funky undertone. You have to think like Too Short, Mac Dre, a lot of the older shit was very funky. Then you got people like Keak da Sneak, Mistah F.A.B. I grew up in the hyphy movement, which was like 2001 to 2007. I grew up listening to Wolf Pack, Stunnaman, I grew up listening to LiL B, Uno, Young L. I grew up literally around these people. My senior year in high school, you could win going to prom on the yellow bus with Mistah F.A.B., like what the fuck? [Laughs.] Why would you want to ride a yellow bus to prom? But they thought that was tight. The Bay has a huge culture. It has side shows, we have our own slang. A lot of artists reference the Bay. Drake, for instance, loves the Bay. On top of that you got dope shit like Hippie Hill in San Francisco, Telegraph in Berkeley. It’s like you could be in the city, or you could go for a hike, or you could go to the Golden Gate Bridge. Just a lot of culture. Even till this day we have people coming from the Bay—G-Eazy, Kool John, IAMSU, Sage the Gemini, Kehlani, and everybody knows each other.
Check out Lil Debbie's Debbie on iTunes.