Tampa, Florida native Doechii is on the rise.
After scoring her first placement on a Billboard chart — with the collaborative tune “Trampoline,” alongside fellow artists David Guetta, Afrojack, Missy Elliott and BIA, debuting at No. 26 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs rank in March — Doechii notched a new deal with Capitol Records and Top Dawg Entertainment, home to SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Jay Rock.
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The forward-thinking rapper stunned fans during her debut late-night TV performance of both “Persuasive” and “Crazy” while appearing as the musical guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in May. Last month, she continued her hot streak of fiery TV performances when she hit the stage at the BET Awards. She also bested her previous accolades by becoming an XXL Freshman, along with the likes of budding talents Saucy Santana, Kali, and former Billboard Rookie of the Month star Babyface Ray. In total, she’s already racked up 48.2 million U.S. streams of her songs, according to Luminate.
Last week, Doechii released her third single of 2022 with “B—h I’m Nice.” The earsplitting record showcases Doechii’s bouncy flow and vivacious energy, as she continues her journey as TDE’s latest signee. “Once I’m done with music, I plan on directing music videos for other people because I have a good eye and I’m really good at creative direction,” she says of her future. “I want to eventually get into planning other artists’ rollout creatively.”
Billboard caught up with Doechii to discuss her breakout year, working alongside TDE, making her “Crazy” video, and more.
Why Capitol Records?
I had a a plethora of conversations with the chairwoman [Michelle Jubelirer] and there were a lot of factors why I chose Capitol. I think the main reason was I heard Michelle’s vision — her vision for being a chairwoman for her artists and for her label. After I spoke with her and I saw that our visions were aligned, I spoke with the team, and we all got to hang out with each other on a personal level. I realized that all of our goals really aligned with each other. That solidified the relationship and the decision.
Along with logistics and the business making sense first and foremost, the second reason was because I knew that we all had the same vision. I’m in this for the long run, and I had the support on the right team, and the right women around me that are willing to support my vision.
What’s the importance of having women in executive roles within the historically male-dominated industry?
It’s super important, because for a really long time now in the music industry, a lot of things have been ran by the same people, same men. These companies are really, really old — Columbia, for example is a really, really old company, so a lot of the same people have been in power for a long time. As times have changed and women have gained more knowledge, confidence and rights, now women have the opportunity to give other women opportunities.
I think that is what’s necessary right now. If the industry stays male-dominated while there’s so many women that are dominating, so many female artists coming in the game right now — I don’t think that’s always healthy, for things to stay the same or the same people to always be in leadership as times change, if they’re not willing to change. It’s a positive thing for more women to be coming in, because more women artists, more female artists are coming in.
I think that, you women are in a place where we understand each other right now, and it’s just our time. It’s really important, because now we have a curated space that is curated by women for women.
What is TDE doing best when it comes to managing the advancement of your career?
What I really love right now is that even though it’s a lot of guys on [the label] and I’m their first female rapper, they’ve been letting me take the lead easily. Everybody’s following me right now. They’re asking me for my ideas. They’re asking me what I want to do. They’re making a space safe for me. They’re really letting me take charge, instead of trying to take control over me, which I really like. I think they trust me enough and trust my vision, and they know that I know what I’m doing just as much as they do. So they’re allowing me to be artist and I’m allowing them to be management.
Where do you see your career in five years?
In five years, I would like to have collected accolades like Grammys and maybe an Emmy. I’ve been doing a little acting, so I expect myself to be in movies. I’m expecting a pretty far trajectory within five years. Hopefully, I can collect more accolades and reach more people. I want to go from being nationwide to being worldwide and going global. So in five years, hopefully I’ll be global.
Speaking of going global, your first international performance will be in Australia for the Listen Out Festival. How are you feeling leading up to that?
I am excited, but my team will tell you nothing hits me until I’m there. It doesn’t feel real right now. I’m like, “I got to get on that plane.” Then once I land and smell the Australian air and see a kangaroo, I don’t know.
You also made your Coachella performance debut, how did that come about?
I ended up on the Coachella stage with Isaiah Rashad — he’s another artist on TDE, and he was gracious enough to put me on his set and perform my song, which was really cool. So I did both weekends with Isaiah.
You previously said your Mom didn’t allow you to listen to secular music growing up. How’d you go from not being allowed to listen to it, to making your own?
I wasn’t allowed to listen to it, but when I would get to school I would listen to it with my friends. I stole an MP3 [player] and would download music and stuff. Whenever I was around my mom or my family, I wouldn’t listen to it. And then, you know, you grow up, you get to a certain age where you develop your own mind, your own beliefs and now here I am making extremely explicit content.
Did you ever feel any guilt about that?
No, I used to, but me and my mom have an understanding. My mom really supports who I am. Me and my mom got to a space where she can respect my own mind and love me, my ideals, practices and beliefs without them being hers. ‘Cause she respects and she loves my art and she loves what I’m doing. Even if that’s not the type of music she listens to, she still supports me because ultimately she just wants to see me do what I love.
Explain the creative meaning behind the “Crazy” music video.
It’s a lot of layers to that video, but I’ll start with how to basically connect it to the concept of my album. I picked four symbols in my album that I wanted to expand on and they’re based on these four tarot cards. With “Crazy,” I wanted all my visuals to be a recreation, an Afro-futuristic recreation of these tarot cards. “Crazy” is the star card and the star that symbolically means your crown, your ultimate level of confidence, self-love. It’s you being vulnerable, naked, saying, “I’m here, I’m here in the world. I love myself, I love others.” And on the tarot card, the star, the woman is actually naked as she’s leaning into the water. And so I was like, “I have to be naked — but I need to figure out a way for me to be naked.” I thought it was so genius of Cardi B in the “Press” video to find a way to have a censorship, but also still keep the integrity of her vision to be naked. And so I wanted to recreate that tarot card, and that’s why I chose to be naked.
Did you have any reservations about the nudity and shooting scene?
I did have reservations, but it wasn’t about me. I think a lot of people wonder like, “Did she feel nervous being naked and the violence?” I didn’t, but I was scared for y’all, like, “Damn, people might be scared of this.” But I really just wanted to get the message across in a very literal, direct, shocking way, in a way that’s disturbing for me to basically say, like “With women, when I die, you die. When I hurt you, it hurts me.” It also has multiple meanings and double entendres. It’s also the feeling of like a rebirth, like, I’m killing off an old part of me, a representation of me and coming into a newness. There’s so many symbols and so many interpretations for that video, it’s insane.
How do you feel to have the support of stars like Mo’Nique, who recently wrote on Instagram that your music is motivational?
I would say it feels really good. When a person that you look up to or somebody who changed your life with their art says that your art changed their life, it’s a full circle moment and it’s really, really humbling. It feels good. Like, my mom loves Mo’Nique. I love Mo’Nique. She’s like a staple, who brought my family together to sit in the living room and watch Mo’Nique. It’s a full circle moment, and it’s really amazing to know that just as much as my favorite artists, people and influencers touch me, now my music is touching them and that’s what it’s about.
What’s your personal favorite of the songs you’ve released and why?
My personal favorites are “Crazy” and “Black Girl Memoir.” “Black Girl Memoir” is so specific, and it’s a literal memoir to my inner child, and it’s an ode to Black girls. I released a lot with that track. “Crazy” is my favorite because it’s my current maximum level. I think Kanye West said it in a song, he said, “Every superhero needs his theme music.” “Crazy” is like super villain theme music and I love it. It’s my ultimate level of power right now.
What does Doechii mean, and how did you come up with it?
To give you the short version, it came to me randomly in a really spiritual way. I took it on. It was more than a name. It felt like a decision of life. I realized one day that I didn’t want to die not happy with myself or not loving myself. When I realized that I didn’t want to die not loving myself, and that I was going to die alone one day — I would be the only person in the casket — I chose to live a life that would fulfill me in every single way. When I did that, I kind of took on a new personality. I was like, “I’m going to do things for me and I’m going to do things my way” very young, like fifth grade. Then I was like, “B—h, I’m Doechii.”
What’s next musically?
Fans can expect something within the next two months for sure. It’s gonna be a surprise, but it’s gonna be really dope.