She first became known in 2016 via Lifetime’s TV talent show The Rap Game. She won but turned down the prize of a record deal to instead focus on building her own following, which she’s done to great success. After releasing four mixtapes and working with the likes of Janelle Monáe and Future, it was 2019’s outrageously bold Bitch From Da Souf that proved to be the breakout hit. Her most recent single, the City Girls-assisted In n Out has had more than 6m views, while Muwop featuring Gucci Mane has almost 40m. “He’s a legend to trap music. His southern slang and flow influenced my own style. I still can’t believe I’m in the club kicking it and FaceTiming my favorite rapper.” She received a further boost this year when Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion invited Stephens to join the set of WAP alongside Rosalía, Kylie Jenner, and Normani. “Showing the fans, blogs and industry that women can come together reverses the stigma that says there can only be one female rapper at the top. We’re taught to compete and beef with each other, WAP said otherwise.” With more than 8m followers across social media, and plays and streams in abundance, does Stephens like being a rap star? “It has its pros and cons,” she says, “but nothing outweighs my love for the music.”
Listen to Mulatto on Apple Music below:
After a heightened year in the US, as a public figure, how important to you is being outspoken about race, feminism and colourism?
“I have a heavy impact on the youth. A lot of people my age, especially women, look up to me so I feel a responsibility to educate and bring awareness to matters that affect my community. Incorporating Breonna Taylor in my music video was me using my platform to bring light to the situation. My lyrics and persona speak for independent liberated women so I’m all for feminism and women empowerment.”
What have you learned about yourself in 2020?
“It taught me flexibility. You have to adjust to changes and get creative in times like this.”
Photography JOSIAH RUNDLES. Styling TODD WHITE. Hair KESHAUN WILLIAMSON. Makeup MELISSA OCASIO. Nails SHARNISE McMICHAEL. Dress by MUGLER. Earrings by SISTER LOVE.