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What’s it like to become a global superstar in a little over a year? In a word, according to Ice Spice: “Fun.”
“I always try to remember to have fun,” the rapper tells TODAY.com. “I like trying to have fun when I’m recording.”
Ice Spice released her first EP, “Like…?”, in January 2023. Since then, she’s performed in arenas, taken home major awards and is up for the best new Grammy during the Feb. 4 ceremony. All that, before releasing her first official album: Her debut, “Y2K,” will be out in November, she shared on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Feb. 2.
The 24-year-old rapper from the Bronx soared onto the scene when her song, “Munch (Feelin’ U),” went viral after its August 2022 release. She caught the attention of artists like Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, and was invited to collaborate with them. She now reaches more than 25 million listeners on Spotify each month.
Her relationship with music dates back to childhood, back when Ice Spice was just Isis Naija Gaston, a little girl watching her father work as an underground rapper. She has said in interviews that her father’s love for recording music inspired her to start doing the same while she was a student at SUNY Purchase.
“I always had a passion for music and I feel like whatever people are passionate in, they’re going to end up doing something along those lines,” she told TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager in what was her first morning show appearance.
Her Bronx upbringing shaped her music, too. In a 2023 interview with Apple Music, Ice Spice recalled how the shops on Fordham Road would play vibrant, uplifting music to bring in new customers. When she records music, she tries to attract listeners in the same way.
“The second I stop having fun while recording, I need to just close the session and come back to it later. I don’t really think, ‘How am I going to get people to come into my store?’ consciously, but I probably do without even realizing it,” she says.
After a successful 2022 launched Ice Spice into celebrity status, 2023 put her into conversations — and collaborations — with some of the biggest names in music.
She and her idol Minaj teamed up in April 2023 for the track “Princess Diana,” which exploded on TikTok and beyond. She later joined Swift on a version of the "Midnights" song "Karma" in May 2023, and the superstar brought out Ice Spice on her “Eras Tour” stop in New Jersey later that same week.
“I started crying when I heard about it,” she said on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna about her collaboration with Swift. “I was like, ‘No, you’re lying, that’s not real.’ I was so emotional. It was tears of joy, of course.”
In July 2023, she again collaborated with Minaj, this time for “Barbie World” on the soundtrack for the “Barbie” movie. The song, album and film found major commercial success, with the film raking in nearly $1.5 billion worldwide.
Ice Spice’s work has found critical acclaim as well. She won the best new artist awards at both the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2023 BMI Impact Awards. This year will be her first time at the Grammys, where she's coming in as a major contender for four awards: best new artist, best rap song for “Barbie World,” best pop duo performance for “Karma” and best song written for visual media also for “Barbie World.”
She says, given her year, she expected to be nominated once — but did not expect four nods.
“I was really nervous when I first found out that I was nominated,” she says. “But now I’m more calm and collected, and I’m just excited to experience the Grammys in general. Being on the carpet and the interviews are fun, and seeing other celebrities is really fun.”
“I still get starstruck, of course,” she says. “I think everybody gets starstruck no matter how famous you are. So I’m excited to see all my peers.”
The nod for best new artist, she says, means the world to her.
“Best new artist is such an iconic nomination,” she tells TODAY.com. “If it’s a win, even better, but I’m satisfied with the nomination.”
Whether she takes home those Grammys remains to be seen — but one trophy she is excited to receive is a Billboard Women in Music Award on March 6. She was named an honoree in January.
“I’m really proud of that too,” Ice Spice says. “Because, of course, women are the minority in almost every industry. It’s just a huge blessing to be part of the women really moving things in music.”
Looking further ahead, she’s set to perform at Coachella in April. The music and arts festival, which will also include artists like Lana Del Rey, Doja Cat and Tyler, The Creator this year, runs over two weeks in Indio, California.
“Festivals are my favorite performance because everyone’s so excited and vibing and drunk,” she says. “It’s just really fun. I love the crowd, and being outside is fun too. I prefer being outside more than inside for performances.”
Between tours and award shows, one may wonder how the star has time to make new music. But, then again, Ice Spice continues to impress.
She released on Jan. 7 a snippet of a new song, “Think U The S--- (Fart)” that went viral across TikTok and then put it out in full on Jan. 25. After a few months without releasing new music, she says she really wanted to put out new material for her fans.
“I just really wanted to feed my fans, that was really important to me. It was fun to record that song, and it was really fun to shoot, too,” she tells TODAY.com.
She revealed new details on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna about her upcoming first full-length record called “Y2K.”
It will include a “crazy collaboration,” she said, that had just been locked in days prior.
Whereas her earlier 2024 single has a “familiar sound and aura” for her, Ice Spice says the forthcoming album will feature sounds she hasn’t experimented with before, while still being rooted in what she knows best.
“It’s definitely gonna be a drill album,” she tells TODAY.com. “But I have a lot of different sounding beats that I haven’t really been heard on much, so I’m excited for those more than anything. I really want to know what my fans think about these new-sounding songs.”
Further proving her star power, Ice Spice also previewed her Super Bowl ad for PepsiCo's lemon-lime soda Starry on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.
“For me, that will act as an introduction to acting,” she tells TODAY.com. “Which is crazy, because that’s not a lot of people’s introduction. It’s a lot of pressure because it’s such a big platform. But regardless, I’m grateful I got to have that experience. It was definitely a challenge delivering the lines and stuff like that.”
The commercial features Ice Spice sipping on her Starry while hanging out with an animated lemon and lime. She’s then interrupted by her ex, a guy in a sweatshirt with a blurred-out logo — ostensibly Sprite, Starry’s Coca-Cola competitor — who confesses his love before erupting into a soda volcano of sorts.
With an eventful 2023 behind her and a promising 2024 up ahead, one may wonder what else Ice Spice has up her sleeve. Ice Spice thinks her ability to surprise and keep moving forward comes from her roots in the city that never sleeps.
As she told Hoda and Jenna, “I think everybody in New York has this certain type of drive and speed to them.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com