Saucy Santana: ‘Our community Is everywhere. I’m proud of all of us’
In 2019, the breakout video for “Walk Em Like A Dog” earned 1 million views in its first month alone, and introduced the world to Saucy Santana’s distinctive lingo, luxurious lashes and unflappable spirit. Having earned attention for his larger-than-life personality and respect for his fast-spreading music ever since, during Pride month, he talked about creating a legacy for queer rappers and why you can’t make a hit without having a ball.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You were born in Connecticut but you grew up in Florida, and your mother is a pastor. Tell us more about your upbringing.
Saucy Santana: Florida people are special. We’re a different kind of people. We have our own culture and our own lingo. We have ways that we talk, ways that we act, ways that we react to things.
My mother wasn’t a pastor when I was growing up, but we always went to church and she always made sure that I had a relationship with God. Now she’s a pastor but she’s still my mom. I can talk to her about everything. She’s gonna find a way to pray for you, but she still acts like a regular person.
You’ve said that before making music, you were always popular. What do you think has drawn people to you?
Saucy Santana: I have charm. You can't buy this in the store. I’ve always been funny. I like to laugh. All my life, people gravitated to me and wanted to hang around me and be my friend, even through now, with being Saucy Santana. Everybody loves my personality and it’s carried with me.
I’m definitely grateful that I can be myself and put out relatable records that the world actually enjoys.” Saucy Santana
With all that charm, you could have continued working as a makeup artist, or sought out work in lots of fields. What inspired you to work in rap music?
Saucy Santana: I never initially wanted to be a rapper. These were never my dreams. But I’ve always been witty and had a way with words. I was the slick mouth cousin that, if somebody was messing with you, come get me and let me talk to them. I fell in love with rap when I got into the creative process and realized, “Oh, this is fun.” Give me a beat and I could just talk! And make it spicy and cool.
When did you decide that you wanted to seriously pursue being an artist?
Saucy Santana: I did a freestyle and put it online, and it did a million plays in a week. I was like, “Oh wow, I have something.” My life changed. I started working with Streamcut, my first distribution company. We made a video for “Walk Em Like A Dog,” a song I had recorded in my closet, and it did so well on YouTube that we made another video, for “Material Girl,” the second song I ever recorded professionally.
Once the world saw I had the talent, they were the first people to back me up. They put me in the studio. I did “Back It Up” with LightSkinKeisha, and “Up and Down” with Latto. I just kept being persistent in my craft and feeding the people.
You first released “Material Girl'' in 2019, but new fans have been discovering the song ever since. When there are so many ways for an artist to break through and find an audience, what do you think it means to “really make it” and succeed?
Saucy Santana: I don’t think that I’ve made it yet but I feel like I've already shown people that my career hasn’t been just a viral sensation. I’m definitely grateful that I can be myself and put out relatable records that the world actually enjoys. And I have fun with music.
So many people go to the studio and rack their brains. You might feel like you have to top this record or that record. But I realized that all of my songs that are hits, I was having a ball in the studio. Falling in love with the beat and catching my vibe. I’m thankful that I’m able to produce bops for people.
I wanna leave a legacy where there’s many more LGBTQ+ rappers that are able to come in and do their thing, and everybody expects it.” Saucy Santana
This year you attended New York Fashion Week and were interviewed on The Breakfast Club. How does it feel to be in spaces like those, having a ball? What do you want to say to people as your platform grows?
Saucy Santana: It hasn’t always been a normal thing, for a person who is out, loud, proud, gay, flamboyant, with lashes, beard, makeup, nails, to be on The Breakfast Club. We didn’t always see these kinds of artists in the rap field. But I’ve always been myself and authentically me, and I fight for my community. If there’s a day when I no longer wanna do music and somebody else comes in to do this behind me, I want no one to look at them like, “What’s going on?”
Thanks to people like Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, it’s become normal to see women rap. There are thousands of female rappers now. I wanna leave a legacy where there’s many more LGBTQ+ rappers that are able to come in and do their thing, and everybody expects it.
What advice would you give to someone coming after you as a rapper, or to anyone who’s trying to create and make a name for themselves?
Saucy Santana: Don't look at what I'm doing. Don't look at what somebody else is doing. Do what works for you. Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself. I came in doing what worked for me: rapping from a female standpoint. I grew up seeing girls go through it and I saw my mom go through it with my dad. I saw and lived it myself, being gay and dating boys. So I rap about things that are relatable to me.
Stay true to yourself. Rap how you feel and what you feel.” Saucy Santana
I rap about things that gay people can understand, that women can understand, that men can relate to, and that kids can make up dances to. I try to take all angles of people equally and relate to as many people as I can. People can see the authenticity in the way I rap. People love how I’m myself in my interviews and on my social media. I don’t put myself in a box. So the only thing I can tell you is stay true to yourself. Rap how you feel and what you feel.
We’re celebrating Pride this month. Is there anyone from the community doing work that you’d like to recognize?
Saucy Santana: MJ Rodriguez is a beautiful trans woman, really doing her thing. She is a super star. I love to always see Billy Porter in these big rooms. Lil Nas X has come so far in his career; number ones after number ones. Ts Madison’s show has been renewed. I love to see Amiyah Scott on the show STAR and say, “Good for her!”
I’m proud of my community and how hard everyone is working to keep us visible. When you’re scrolling on your YouTube Shorts, when you turn on your TV, when you go to the gas station, our community is everywhere. I’m proud of all of us.