Saucy Santana is having the best year of his lovely life. Gracing the cover of magazines like Teen Vogue, opening for Latto on her 777 tour, and becoming an advocate for normalizing queer representation while breaking down the doors for other Black queer artists who want to achieve greatness, there’s nobody hotter on the music scene. This is why we wanted to spend time really getting into his head, learning more about his creative process, his hobbies, and those special moments with industry superstars which can only be described as life-altering.
BET.com chatted with Santana (born Rashad Spain) for 25 minutes and the convo was as juicy as the lyrics of his soon-to-be-released song, “Booty”. In part one of our interview, the “Material Girl'' rapper spoke mainly about his upward trajectory toward superstardom. He reveals his connection to his fans, the inspiration behind his music, and why he has a true appreciation for 50 Cent’s classic album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin.
BET.com: Hey Saucy Santana, thank you so much for chatting with us today. Now, you’re the IT boy out in these streets….As your life continues to change rapidly, what’s been the best part of your come-up journey?
Saucy Santana: I just think the rooms that I’ve been in lately with such big icons — the conversations and opportunities I’ve had with some of the people ya’ll may have seen me with and some of the people ya’ll haven’t seen me with has really been a blessing.
BET.com: When you’re in these rooms — and you’ve chatted about this with Teen Vogue about normalizing your experience, are you more comfortable now?
Saucy Santana: Yeah — literally last night I felt like that. That’s just how it was. It’s so cool because I’m respected. The other day when I was at WeHo Pride and I met Lil Kim — I actually met her when I was a little kid but I was like 8-years old. When I met her again, she came to my dressing room after I performed and waited for me to cool down. She showed me so much respect and admiration so I was like dang, you’re the legend — I’m so supposed to be chasing you around. For me to see the respect and admiration people have for me — people congratulating me on my success is really cool.
BET.com: Now Royal Reign, Lil Kim’s daughter, definitely knew the “Walk” song and even showed the dance in the video clip that was posted on social media. She gave what needed to be given— are you ever shocked that young people like this know your music?
Saucy Santana: No, because the youth carries for Santana. My youth following actually put a lot of people on. When you have your kids constantly running around the house, screaming “Material Girl,” “Walk Em Like A Dog”, and “Walk” — after a while, you’ll ask, what is that?
The parents are now getting in tune because today, it’s all about cell phones. Kids have cell phones at 3 or 4-years old — I’m guilty too because I just bought my 9-year-old goddaughter an iPhone 13 for her birthday. After hearing kids repeating things and monitoring their phones to see what they're listening to — parents start to get put on to [Santana], so I’m grateful.
BET.com: What were some records you were listening to as a kid that you really had no business bumping?
Saucy Santana: Definitely Khia [laughs]. I was bumping ‘My Neck, My Back.’
BET.com: Did you know what the lyrics even meant? [laughs]
Saucy Santana: We kind of did but you know, we thought we were grown [laughs].
BET.com: Are there any classic albums you loved as you were growing up that you could use as a blueprint for what an album should flow and sound like?
Saucy Santana: As I was growing up, I remember “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’” was one of my favorite albums by 50 Cent as a kid — I really wasn’t supposed to be listening to that. My dad was 50 Cent’s bodyguard at the time, so I was able to get the album with a little autograph. I would go to sleep to that album. My mom would play Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé when I was growing up — I was bumping her first album Dangerously In Love. I was so into TV because back then we had music videos, 106 & Park, and MTV’s “Top 10” back when Lala was hosting, so I’ve always loved music and was into everything. Back then it was Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Eminem, Avril Lavigne, and P!nk. Since I’ve gotten older and moved to Florida, that’s when I experienced the ratchet [laughs].
BET.com: Ooh yes! The gutter baby — that’s what we like. You recently shared that one of your favorite pop culture pieces is from WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus. Would you say you are an avid wrestling fan?
Saucy Santana: Oooh, my favorites were Lita and Trish Stratus. It was so funny because when I was younger, being gay, I used to like all the divas. When I would get all the wrestling games for Christmas, my little brother used to be so aggravated because he would always ask me why I picked the girl wrestlers. It was so funny. I also loved John Cena and the Hardy Boyz — I was a big wrestling fan. Every Monday, I used to watch “Monday Night Raw” and on Thursdays, it was “SmackDown”.
BET.com: Do you still get to watch in your free time?
Saucy Santana: I don’t watch as much because I’m so busy and don’t have time to watch television. It’s funny because John [Cena] followed me on Twitter. I was so in shock like how does John Cena even know Santana?
BET.com: You know Santana, because you’re so animated, have you ever considered entering the acting space?
Saucy Santana: Mmmhmm, I’m in my bag chile.
BET.com: Does that mean you’re going on auditions?
Saucy Santana: I guess you can call it that. The girls is reaching out. [laughs]
BET.com: And as they should! Period. I can actually see you in the Marvel universe as a superhero or villain just flying around, doing your thing. If you were a superhero or a villain, what would your name and power be?
Saucy Santana: I don't feel like I give superhero. I’m more like a hoochie mama hero, you know? That would be my name. Ooh that’s good, let me write that down.
BET.com: Yes, put it down for the next single [laughs].
Saucy Santana: And my powers would be swindling a man out of his money. Miss Hoochie Mama hero — Miss Baby Mama Coochie.
BET.com: I heard you were in the studio last night with a major music icon killing it. Can you give us a hint on who it was and what’s the vibe on this single?
Saucy Santana: The vibe is very fun and fresh — it’s a fresh style. This person is an icon like, oh my gosh… a very big star. Ya’ll are gonna gag and it’s actually coming out later this month.
BET.com: What’s your creative process like when you’re coming up with these bangers?
Saucy Santana: I definitely like inspiration, but I rap about real life. Nine times out of 10, everything that I rap about I’ve done or it’s been a situation I was in. I was in the studio a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t have anything to rap about. I had gone to the strip club like three nights in a row and I had made this song called “Get Your Money Up” and it’s so good. The whole experience is literally about three nights in the strip club — what I’ve seen between dancers, men, money, people in the club, and the black truck picking me up. I like to rap about my experiences and what’s relatable to people.
BET.com: One song the fans are waiting for to hit the streets is “Booty” featuring Latto. How did that song come about?
Saucy Santana: I decided to put Latto on it because, in 2020, me and Latto released our first song together called “Up and Down”. Then, the pandemic hit and nobody cared about music — we were trying to figure out why we couldn’t go anywhere and why we had to wear masks, vaccinations, etc. Latto was my first big feature back then and her song “B*tch From Da Souf” had just been released so she was bubbling hot at the time. She was the biggest artist I’d worked with so I felt like coming into 2022, being signed to a record label now, she’s my sister. We just wrapped a tour together but “Booty” is going to be a big song for me. A lot of people didn’t get to experience us together on “Up and Down” so I just want to run it back.
BET.com: We always love a good remix so can we expect any other artists to jump into the mix?
Saucy Santana: Mhmm, somebody call Beyoncé! [laughs]. I think Lizzo would’ve been good for “Booty” too.
BET.com What can your fans do to encourage either of these ladies to collaborate with you?
Saucy Santana: Run up those DMs, tag my name in the comments, harass them [laughs]. Social media is big but a lot of stuff I don’t see and some things are in message requests that I can only get to when I get the time, I’m like, ‘Oh my God this person messaged me. I didn’t even see it!’ I know sometimes things go unnoticed on social media when you don’t have direct contact with a person.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Ty Cole is a New York-based entertainment reporter and writer for BET.com who covers pop culture, music, and lifestyle. Follow his latest musings on Twitter @IamTyCole.