When Saweetie comes through your headphones on the intro track to High Maintenance, her voice is delicate but her message, though brief, is probably exactly what you needed to hear. “You know what sis, get into your bag, stay focused, and leave these bumass niggas alone.” It sets the tone for the ride she takes you on for the next 22 minutes, which sways on the borders of bravado and beauty.
The 9-track EP is a promising introduction to the Bay Area rapper following the release of “ICY GRL,” an interpolation of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back,” that garnered over 10 million views before she inked a deal with Warner Bros. Then known for her car raps, freestyles she recorded in her car over notable rap beats, she used social media as a vehicle to push her music. “ICY GRL” definitely feels like the result of a drunken girl’s night of shit talking. At the time of the recording, Saweetie was a recent graduate from USC with just a mattress in her apartment, prophesying the life she wanted to live. “It’s very unlikely, my wrist ain’t looking icy,” she says on the record, which became not only a prediction but an integral part of her brand.
Though she’s building her brand of being icy and high maintenance, she’s redefining the perception that those ideals are just skin deep. Colloquialisms aside, both traits have negative connotations when tacked to women as a labels, but Saweetie reclaims the ownership of those words throughout her debut. “Icy is a mindstate,” Saweetie tells me over the phone. “I wanted to create a positive mindset for myself and through that I was able to attract everything that I said in that song.” Aside from a couple of pre-released tracks, the EP was her first chance at creating full songs with original production. The growth she’s displayed in a matter of months is evident as she deviates from the freeform style she possessed to constructing catchy hooks and experimenting with her voice’s texture.
The EP she's created seems crafted as a warm and varied rejoinder to anyone who'd label her with the record's title. Her new single, “B.A.N,” which revels in the victory of shedding the deadweight of a trifling old flame, hits hard for anyone who doubted that the 24-year-old could come with aggression. Her cousin Zaytoven lends his production talents to “Agua,” an ode to her penchant for the finer things, including a drippy wrist. She interchanges flows, borrowing from those old and new. Drawing from the stylings of a Bay Area pioneer Too $hort, High Maintenance fuses her Sacramento upbringing with a treasure hunt of hip-hop homages ranging from “hot boy” references to cadences lifted from Dem Franchize Boyz. Saweetie even tries her hand at singing on “Too Many,” a melodic closer about the less glamorous part of the relationships she’s forged thus far, followed by a heartfelt voicemail from her best friend of 11 years who is happy as hell she caught Saweetie’s song on the radio. It covers a whole lot of ground, far more than you'd expect in just 9 tracks, suggesting that her time as the official Icy Girl isn't temporary.
Stream High Maintenance below.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.