Dreezy is a study in extremes. She’s short and tiny, but when she talks, she sounds big. She’s sweet, almost shy, in person, but when she gets on stage or in front of the camera, the swagger is palpable.
Case in point: She’s the only lady in the BET hip-hop awards digital cypher, which released last week and showcases her rapping over beats provided by the legendary DJ Scratch.
These cyphers are one of the most-discussed parts of the hip-hop awards, which air Oct. 14. And given the dearth of females charting in rap, her inclusion in that space is huge. But it’s something to be expected from the same South Side emcee whose lyricism is so swift and substantive that Common asked her to be a featured artist for the song “Hustle Harder” on his latest album, “Nobody’s Smiling.”
“Dreezy’s exactly the kind of talent we look to include in the BET Cyphers; lyrical, witty and superior ability,” says Jesse Collins, executive producer of the BET Hip Hop Awards. “When she did the cypher, she delivered. She’s Chicago’s own now, but she’s about to be a star. ”
Quite a few are abuzz about that cypher and wondering aloud just who Dreezy is. Though she’s been releasing music since 2012, she caught on in a big way after releasing her remix of Nicki Minaj and Lil Herb’s spring hit “Chiraq,” and many even said that her verses were meatier than Minaj’s. Even better: Dreezy is from Chicago and has roots in Chatham. Plus, the video for “Chiraq,” shot by Chicagoan Nick Brazinski, was produced in iconic places including the Harold’s Chicken on 87th Street. So, why does a straight-A, student-council leader, Rich South high school grad go on to Northern Illinois University, stay one month, and decide that she’d rather make music?
“I got to the point of my life where I felt like I was doing this because that’s what my parents wanted me to do, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself,” says Dreezy, 20, born Seandrea Sledge, who has roots near 82nd and King Drive. “I was thinking: ‘Do I wanna be the person that gets out of high school and is one of my dad’s first successful kids to finish college and all that?’ It was a good thought but I didn’t know if that would make me happy.”
But she’s happy now — even though she’s juggling the travel and the photo shoots and the rigors of evaluating business deals. She misses home sometimes and when here, she still records her music in a tiny, soundproof-room-turned-studio in the Chatham neighborhood with her trusted producer DBrooks.
Click below for an exclusive video filmed in DBrooks’ studio:
As far as makeup and clothing, she’s not going all Hollywood on Chicago. At least not yet, anyway. She does her own makeup and occasionally consults with fashion stylists, but prefers to dress herself.
“I don’t like them really dressing me ’cause I know how I like to look,” she says. “I get certain stylists to take me to some stores to get certain looks, but I dress myself. I like doing my own style.”
And, as of this moment, she’s unsigned. Or at least, her manager — who also managed Kanye West — isn’t dishing any details.
No matter. As she raps on “Chiraq,” she’s “verified” — a shout out to getting that coveted blue check mark that is social media’s version of a Roman-Catholic confirmation. She is making videos for her mixtape “Schizo,” and is soon to release a “deluxe” version of “Schizo.”
Not bad for someone who six years ago turned a music hobby into something that looks like a career.
“At first I was just playing around,” she says, remembering her early rhymes. “I definitely feel like I’m starting to find myself. I’m starting to find my flow.”
Adrienne Samuels Gibbs is a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Reach her @adriennewrites on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org