She may be a relatively new artist, but Ice Spice is familiar with the grind. Growing up, her dad was an underground NYC rapper. She never went to see him perform, but she remembers tagging along as he hustled. “He was always distributing CDs,” she told Swave Digest Radio host Jon Weigell. “I’d take the road trips with him to Rhode Island or wherever for a couple of hours. It was just us and it was fun. I remember sitting in the back of the car, and he’s playing the music the whole way.”
It was a subconscious thing, but looking back Ice Spice sees how her dad’s rap career influenced her. She’s also willing to do whatever it takes to move her music forward, and you’ll only have to consider her start during the peak of the pandemic as evidence. “There was no work, so the UI checks held it down and basically funded my music,” she said. “I’d use it to pay for my videos, mixing, studio time, everything. It was a grind, so I had to believe in myself and really put my money into it. There were moments where I had no money in my account and I was borrowing money to do stuff. But the first day I posted [‘Bully’]it was playlisted on Apple Music.”
Ice Spice is still hard at work, currently making vibes for the next project she’s working on (“It’s baddie, feeling myself, boss bitch vibes,” she said). But she took a quick break this week to chat with Weigell and share her My Life in 10 Songs list on the latest edition of the Swave Digest Radio on Amp, the live radio app where you can listen to top artists, creators, and athletes spin their favorite tracks and take your calls in real time.
If her music doesn’t make it obvious, Ice Spice really admires strong women in music who are unapologetically themselves. So she started her playlist accordingly with some Doja Cat (“Cyber Sex”) and two from Nicki Minaj (“Itty Bitty Piggy” and “Dear Old Nicki”).
“I love Doja Cat for real—she’s herself, she’s not afraid to be herself, and I fuck with that,” the rapper said. “‘Cyber Sex’ is a vibe, I play it all the time. She made me realize you don’t need to take yourself too seriously and it’s OK to have fun.
“My father actually put me on to Nicki when I was really young,” Ice Spice continued. “I’ve loved her the whole time, and she’s definitely inspired me. This song was going crazy when I was in school, and I realize it’s where I’m at right now in life. Even when I’d listen to it on the bus on the way home from school, I knew she was talking about missing her old self now that she’s famous. I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t wait to be at that level.’ But my old self was broke so I don’t miss that.”
Ice Spice next turned her sights abroad, specifically to Canada and Europe. She selected a collaboration from Drake and The Weeknd (“Crew Love”) alongside tracks from The 1975 (“Sex”) and Coldplay (“Yellow”). As a kid, Ice Spice vividly remembers listening to The Weeknd all the time. “I’d play his songs to go to sleep, and I’d wake up listening to it again,” she said. Ice Spice had a similarly deep rotation phase with The 1975.
“When I was 13 or 14, I was playing [The 1975] all the time. It was my shit,” she said. “I think it’s because they’re from Europe and he has that accent. It was a thing for me—I was listening to a lot of Ed Sheeran, too, at the time.”
The rapper then went back to some of her favorite rap artists, picking two musicians she could see herself collaborating with: A Boogie wit da Hoodie (“4 Minute Convo [Favorite Song]”) and PinkPantheress (“Passion”). Boogie inspires her since he’s also from the Bronx, while Ice Spice credits PinkPatheress with being the musician who got her through the first pandemic summers.
“I love [Boogie’s] topics and songs, and this one speaks to me so much. I think it started as a freestyle and he worked to turn it into one of his best songs,” she said. “And I still listen to [PinkPantheress] a lot. I love her voice and her music, plus she’s another artist who doesn’t take herself too seriously, which I appreciate a lot. I could see us collaborating—same for Boogie or Doja Cat, too.”
Ice Spice closed by calling her own number and picking two tracks (“Munch” and “Bikini Bottom”) that led the artist to where she is today. “Bikini Bottom” in particular sticks with her since the song combines Ice Spice’s vibe growing up with who she is now.
“I love SpongeBob. I grew up watching and feel like it shaped a lot of my personality. It’s a culture, honestly,” she said. “So I told Riot[USA, her producer] I wanted a Sponge Bob take. I don’t actually sample it, but it gives me the vibes of Bikini Bottom, like the chase scenes and stuff like that, though a lot of people think it’s Scooby Doo. The song was really fun to record.”
Weigell and co-host Charlie Cooper will be back at it Thursday, 12/1 when rapper Bas joins them to share his Life in 10 Songs on another episode of Swave Digest Radio (@rollingstone on Amp). Download the Amp app and tune in at 11 a.m. ET. Just getting started on Amp? If you want to learn more about the artists and athletes DJing on Amp and experience their shows live, head to onamp.com and just press “play.”
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