Sadie Hawkins (@SadieHawkinsSC) Talks Branding, Making Strategic Business Moves, SC Hip Hop & Artists, New Mixtape With DJ Scream (@DJScream) + More

Sadie Hawkins

Every March for Women’s History Month I host a women in hip hop radio special to honor women’s contributions to hip hop culture. The women in hip hop radio special is always my absolute favorite radio show to host because I love the undeniable impact women have made and continue to make within the music industry.

2012 marked the 6th year the women in hip hop radio special took place, and as in past years’ interviews with Monie Love, Chuck D & Crew Grrl Order and Kim Osorio, I was super excited to have a great feature guest interview as the night’s highlight. 2012’s special guest interview was with Columbia, SC native Sadie Hawkins.

Sadie Hawkins’ new mixtape Girl, Interrupted drops exactly one week from today (April 3). The project will be hosted by DJ Scream and include features from BJ Ca$h, Yo Gotti, Ca$h Out, Stuey Rock and more. SC is definitely talking about the Sadie Hawkins brand and it’s meteoric rise from seemingly out of no where. Folks are trying hard to figure out: How did Sadie Hawkins "come up" so fast and in almost less than a year?

What most people don’t know is everything you see today is a result of Sadie Hawkins’ strategic business moves, a small but extremely focused and dedicated team,

a relentless work ethic that includes an ultimate goal of becoming a mogul with true winner’s mentality. Sadie Hawkins is a young boss.

Sadie Hawkins Interview:

So listen above or read on where Sadie Hawkins and I discuss branding her movement, the importance of strategy in making business decisions, and what other SC artists should be doing to have their music and movement noticed. We also learn about her favorite female emcees, lessons she’s learning about the music business and discuss her new mixtape, Girl, Interrupted!

Nanci O:    Hey, Sadie, how are you?

SADIE:    I’m great, and yourself?

Nanci O:    Doing pretty good.  I’m excited about tonight’s show!

SADIE:    Okay, cool, me too, likewise.  Thank you, thank you so much as well, for the opportunity.

Nanci O:    I definitely appreciate your time.

SADIE:    No problem.  I appreciate you wanting to interview me.

Nanci O:    All right, so, Sadie, you’re originally from Columbia, South Carolina, right?

SADIE:    I am, born and raised.

Nanci O:    Who were some of your favorite female MCs coming up as you were coming up as a young lady?

SADIE:    Well, coming up as a young lady, because I’m pretty young, there was Lil’ Kim that I listened to—my mom actually listened to, with Biggie and Lil’ Kim, when they kind of took over with everything in the early 90s.  It was Kim, it was Foxy, it was definitely—I like old school.  As I got older, I wanted to listen to more old school, so there’s where MC Lyte came in and Queen Latifah and Salt-n-Pepa.  I definitely loved them.  Also, my mom, she always listened to Lauren Hill. 

So, the ladies, I definitely expect the grind and what they did, because now that I’m an artist, I see the things that they had to go through to be able to reach the success that they have.

Nanci O:    All right, and so since you mentioned old school and you mentioned Lil’ Kim, she was definitely old school, but she’s on the scene again, so who do you prefer—which version of Lil’ Kim do you prefer musically and overall visually with her brand?  Do you prefer the new Lil’ Kim or the old Lil’ Kim?

SADIE:    Definitely the old Lil’ Kim. [Laughter]

Nanci O:    [Laughter]

SADIE:    Definitely the old Lil’ Kim.  I love Kim, but it’s like, Kim, come on mama.  I guess there’s coming that she’s been in the game for a long time so I guess she’s trying to reinvent herself, you know, the plastic surgery, the type of songs, things like that, the beats and all that crap, the controversy.  But, I definitely think the old Lil’ Kim better because I think she was hard core.  Everybody respected her.  There wasn’t really nobody in the game that was doing it like she was, and she was kind of in it, but like, you know what, I’m having fun with this, I don’t care what nobody else says, I’m going to go wear my pink wigs, I’m going to wear my freakin’ green wigs and I’m going to just do me.  So, I definitely respect, as an artist, I respect Lil’ Kim back then, her brand back then to what it is now.

Nanci O:    Okay.  And so, I love the movement.  I know you see it as a female artist.  There seems to be a re-interest in having balance within hip-hop, having that female counterpart to a male MC.  So, since there are, when you look at the landscape of underground or independent female MCs out there right now, there’s a nice variety.  So, what do you feel sets you and the Sadie Hawkins brand, overall brand, apart from the other female MCs that’s coming up in the game, and then also in the mainstream right now?

SADIE:    Right, well, everybody wants to know and to think that they’re different, and so they have “it”, and I’m just the same way as well.  I feel like Sadie Hawkins, just, I’m different.  My name means a role reversal, basically to go back to the whole Sadie Hawkins dance.  I’m just out here, my brand the way that I am, because I think I’m unique, my music.  I appeal—to me, I appeal to different regions.  I’m from the south, but I have southern music, northern music, I have music that the west and mid-west, that they can vibe to, and I just like to have fun.  Everybody has a story to tell.  I believe that the experiences that I’ve gone through, that I have something that’s relatable to a lot of people around the world. 

    So, I love telling my story through song, and just from my experiences, and I just like to have fun with my music.  Like I said, touch on issues that everyone could relate to and have fun.  I don’t try to be anybody else, either.  I do what feels good and what I believe my peers would like and what feels good to them.  So, I’m just doing, like I said, my whole thing is, I’m different.  People look at me or whatnot, even though all female artists or whatnot, some of them, they look like models and they’re feminine and you just have different kinds.  But, I’m Sadie Hawkins and that’s just it.  I’m Sadie.  You know what I’m saying?  So, I’m different, I’m unique, I love fashion, I love music and I’m me.

Nanci O:    All right, and so when you’re rhyming about your experiences and making them relatable to your fans, do you write all your own material?

SADIE:    I do.  I write all of my versus.  I have a friend, Dondada, he’s my best friend.  He helps me with my hooks.  I have my producer, Six Man, he does the beat.  But writing my lyrics, I write them myself.

Nanci O:    Okay, there you go, and you spoke about Six Man, your producer, and also Dondada who helps you with your hooks.  And one thing I’ve always noticed about you, Sadie, when you first hit the scene or when I first took note of you, I think it was about a year and-a-half ago, I noticed you had a very strong team around you, even at that point in time.  So, can you talk about the different people who are on your team and the different puzzle pieces that make up the whole Sadie Hawkins team?

SADIE:    Right.  I think I’ve excelled so far past expectations of, especially people here in South Carolina, so when I came on the scene, my foundation was already rock solid.  I don’t have the big entourage, I don’t have 60 million people or whatnot, I don’t need 15 people telling me whatever I do is hot.  I got three people.  I got three people that’s on my team that when I first started, that was surrounding me that understood that Sadie Hawkins is a brand.  She’s a product and we’re going to push this product.  I am the face of Sadie Hawkins.  I am Sadie Hawkins, but everybody knew what their position was. 

Chris, or Mr. Dondada, he’s a singer/songwriter.  Well, he’s going to add, because he’s been doing music before I’ve been doing music, so I’ve always had a love for it, but he’s actually been doing it, writing hooks, and my writing’s awesome, so he understood what it is to make commercial music, or cookie phrases and things of that nature.  So, that’s where—that was his job, New New at the time, she was like my manager.  She was acting as my manager.  We was just kind of starting, so we all didn’t kind of know what we were doing.  We just knew that, okay, we need somebody, we knew Chris was going to help with the commercial music, New New would be acting as the manager that helped me with getting bookings, getting shows.  Six Man, his part is he’s doing the beats, actually, me, Six Man and Chris with the beats and with the music. 

That was our thing.  Sadie Hawkins, you know, I had to go out there and deliver.  I also have my makeup artist [Thickie Monroe] who styled me and does my makeup, so it was actually four of us.  So, it was just us four.  We didn’t have a layout, we didn’t have anybody kind of telling us what to do.  We just knew what we wanted to do.  I wanted to do this, so this is how we got to do.  We got to treat this as a business, and we kind of stuck to that blueprint, and I’m here now.  You know what I’m saying?  So, everything is with the team.  You’ve got to have a strong foundation.  You have to have a strong team.  You know what I’m saying?  And if you don’t have a strong team, you will not make it.  You know what I’m saying?  You will not make it, and we understood that from the beginning, and that’s why, even my manager, we’re still cool because we understood what we were doing, and what we were getting ourselves into, so everybody had to play their position and play their part.

Nanci O:    I love that you mentioned yourself as a brand, that you’re not only the artist, you are Sadie Hawkins, the brand itself, and what’s really hot, I noticed within hip hop right now and the business aspect of hip hop, is artists, bloggers, whomever, having brand extensions, where it’s not just the music.  So, can you talk about if you have any plans for any brand extensions beyond your music?

SADIE:    Well, most definitely.  Hip hop, I like Queen Latifah, her blueprint of how she kind of did things.  She stuck up as an artist, then she’s a singer now, she’s the executive producer, she’s a business woman.  She got a Cover Girl ad, so she took the rap and the music part and kind of went into other avenues in the business, and I definitely want to follow her footsteps.

    I love my music, I’m starting with the music.  I can do modeling, do acting, a spokesperson, just do different things and whatnot and just have different avenues into the whole business and not just be boxed in with just the music, because I think, like I said, I want to be a well-rounded person or a business, basically, a brand, that everybody, if you don’t know me, well you’ll know me from this place or you’ll know me from modeling or you’ll know me from this type of movie or something like that.  So, that’s basically, I just want to brand myself all the way around.

Nanci O:    Excellent, and this question is by no means in a judgemental manner against other artists.  So for the other South Carolina artists that are out there, because we know, I feel like as you mentioned, no one has really broken on a national level, or even I would say on a regional level.  They may not be known outside of their county or, I guess, district or outside of the state.  So what do you see, like stepping back and doing like a 30,000 foot view, what do you think the other artists coming out of your state could be doing to put themselves out there even more to get noticed by a company that’s based in New York City that is having you with connections in Atlanta?  What do you think they could do, the other artists from your area, to get themselves out there even more?

SADIE:    First thing’s first, is the team, their team.  A lot of artists, a lot of people come in, me and my team, of what we did because the artist just don’t get it.  Like I said, we, me and Six Man, Dondada, New New at the time, we all thought of Sadie Hawkins as a business, and a lot of artists out there, they don’t think on a business type of level or a branding type of level.  You know what I’m saying?  So, you have to get your team, you have to get your foundation right, and some people just never get that right.  Who was a part of their team a year ago, they’re not there.  It switches so much, so you want to get your foundation straight and get focused. 

A lot of people actually, they don’t grind.  When I first started out, I did so many shows.  I did five shows a week.  I was going to school in college, I’m a single mom and having a job.  So, I did all of those things and still was able to maintain.  I was coming in the house five o’clock in the morning, and I had to get right back up for work at seven o’clock.  Two hours of sleep, and I’ve got to be at work for 12 hours.  When I get off of work, I still got to cater to my daughter.  You know, so it’s the grind.  You have to have that grind and you have to be dedicated and motivated. 

Once artists get into this and they see how hard it is, most people give up.  It takes money.  It takes resources, it takes time and it takes energy, and some artists just never get that.  Also, make sure you believe in what you’re putting out.  Make sure you’re putting out quality.  There are so many and I’m not trying to jones anybody that does this, but why are you recording in a closet?  Why are you recording in a basement, and your stuff is not even mastered well?  So, when you’re taking it to people, going to music conferences or to record pools or whatever that you go to showcase your music, people listening to it is like, what is this?  They’re not going to care what you’re saying in the song or that your vocal’s hot.  They’re listening to that quality.

So, there’s a lot of things that the artist has to learn, especially for around here that I know.  I’m still learning.  By all means, I still have a long way to go, but those are just some of the things that they’ve got to get their team and foundation right, they got to grind, and just care about what you’re putting out, the quality of the music and everything.  Some people don’t care about their stuff. 

Appearance, you know, somebody’s coming to see you, you’re opening up at a club somewhere, appearance, all that stuff takes into account of the artist that you are and your brand.  You have to brand yourself, so you’ve got to look like somebody, your music has to sound like something and you have to give the people what they want.  They have to be interested to even buy your music or even listen to you.  So, those are just some of the things that I can think of off the top.  I could probably go down the line, but those are just a couple things.

Nanci O:    So, clearly, you’ve learned a lot since you’ve first broken out with your first single, "Vouch For That".  What has been the biggest lesson that you learned that was really surprising you, that shocked you, about the industry and getting to the point where you are now, that you had no clue about?

SADIE:    I think the biggest, because before Sadie Hawkins, I was generally an impatient person, and I guess you’ve got to have patience.  That’s my biggest lesson, and to humble myself.  A lot of people, they tell me all the time, you know, with my upcoming mix tape, I’ve only been rapping, it’s actually not even a year and-a-half yet.  It was November 2010 when Vouch For That first came out, and within that time span, for my next mix tape, I had DJ Scream, and I have some notable features on the mix tape, and it’s like people are like, wow, you’ve grown from that.  You’ve grown so fast in that short amount of time coming from Columbia, South Carolina where it’s an untapped—people are not checking for South Carolina.  People always say, who could of know there’s so much talent that’s there.  They’re not checking for it.

    So, I had to humble myself, take it all in and have patience, and that’s what I’m still learning.  That’s one of the biggest lessons I can say right off the top, is patience, because not everything is going to come to you when you want it to.  I just kind of showed up in the game and within a year, things kind of happened fast, but look at people that’s been doing it for five years and they still haven’t gotten to the level that I’ve gotten to in a year.  It’s patience, it’s patience and it’s time, and that’s one of the biggest things that I say that I’ve learned with this, and just to humble myself because I am blessed.  I’m very blessed with the things that I’ve been able to accomplish within this short amount of time.

Nanci O:    And so, you mentioned that it was having patience and it was a shocker to you that the industry was not checking, or is not checking, for artists coming out of South Carolina, particularly Columbia, South Carolina.  And so, your manager, publicist, I know Kelly Jackson, she’s on your team now and she has many years in the game doing PR and management for Sway [Calloway, of MTV Networks].  So, how did you hook up or how did you connect with her and get her on your team?

SADIE:    Well, we, the team, Sadie Hawkins, Dondada, Thickie Monroe, Six Man, we always think about strategy, and this is exactly how I attack.  The situation with Kelly and with Sway and with everybody else that came down, the My Music Is Me Conference, it was here last May [2011].  I was invited to come out as an artist and to perform for all of the label executives.  It was Kelly, it was Reggie Hawkins, Wayne Williams, Sway, it was just a lot of people that was there that were executives that never even heard of an artist like that that came from South Carolina.

    So what I did is, even before I even went to the conference, I Googled everybody to know who I was dealing with, basically.  Who were the people, who are these people, because this could make and break me.  If I go and I kill the show, if I leave a very good impression, somebody will want to deal with me.  Somebody will reach out and maybe this could be my big chance, and that’s exactly how I looked at the situation.

    So, we got everything together, my show, what songs that I want to play to impress them.  I practiced what I was going to go on stage performing.  My whole look, I wanted to make sure that I gave off the look of who Sadie Hawkins was, and I nailed that.  Also, I came with like personal EPKs to give to each one of the panel members, so that they’ll have a picture of me, my CD, a bio and just different information on how to contact me. 

    And from there, that’s where Kelly—from there, it kind of spread like wildfire now.  We’re only going up.  So, I just totally attacked that situation, and from there, they saw something in me and they wanted to be a part of it.  So, I’m like, let’s work.  Let’s work, because that’s what I came here to do that, I’m ready to work, and that’s what we’ve been doing every since.

Nanci O:    Very exciting!  Your mix tape with DJ Scream, Girl, Interrupted, drops next month, and what I find most exciting about that mixtape is, DJ Scream, he’s done tons of mixtapes for many artists, but he’s done very few female artists.  Trina, Diamond and now Sadie Hawkins.  I’m excited for you, so I know you’re excited for yourself.

SADIE:    I am so excited.  You did the perfect statement, because like I said, you got to—this is the reality.  I never would have thought, like a year ago when I first started, that okay, Scream is going to be hosting my mixtape, along with having features like Cashout, Stuey Rock and Yo Gotti.  With Stuey Rock and Cashout, these are up and coming [artists], and Yo Gotti’s been on the scene for a long time.  And just to have those people to be featured on my mixtape, is like, man, I can’t even explain.  I know you probably can hear that I’m smiling so big right now because it’s crazy.  Like I said, I feel so blessed right now that I just have the opportunity.

    And from here, this is just the beginning.  From here, it’s going to move on, and like I said, the only way that we’re going is up.  So, I am definitely excited.  I’m excited for everybody to hear and see my growth, because from how I was, like Sadie Hawkins to who I am now, I’ve had like a year and some change to kind of master my craft, and to really go in with my songs and what I wanted to write about.  It’s just dope.  The progression, the growth, is dope.  I am so proud of myself and I’m proud of my team, because like I said, I keep saying, a year ago, a year ago, because it’s like, wow, one year ago, one year or one year and a couple months.  Before I was rapping, I was a cardio pulmonary technician.  Now, I’m a rapper with features from notable artists and DJ Screams vouching for me, it’s overwhelming.

Nanci O:    Well, I’m not going to cry for you, so you okay.  I’m not going to cry, but I find it extremely exciting, not only as a female rapper or a female artist, but as a Carolina artist, and I think it’s awesome.  So what date does the mixtape drop and where can we find it?

SADIE:    April third.  It’s going to be on DatPiff and also LiveMixTapes.com.  I’ll be Tweeting the links like crazy on my Twitter page, which is @SadieHawkinsSC, but like I said, it will be on DatPiff and Live MixTapes, and everybody, you all, go download it and see what the hype is about.  It’s well worth it, it’s well worth it.

Nanci O:    Okay, and for my last question for you, Sadie Hawkins, you’re definitely on the rise, your star power is undeniable, so say five years from now, ten years from now, what do you want your lasting legacy to be within the game?

SADIE:    Sadie Hawkins the mogul, the business mogul.  I came from nothing, literally nothing, came from nothing, and I was able to turn that into something for something that I believed in.  I believe in myself, have faith in myself.  The sky is the limit.  Nothing is impossible.  So, I want to leave the legacy as the mogul that I came from literally nothing to this.  So ten years from now, like I said, I want to be a mogul.  Music, out there with fashion, TV screen, the big screen and all of that.  I want people to know my story. 

    I’m a little girl from the hood.  My brother was killed a couple years ago.  I’m a single mom, and I got out there and I started rapping.  I didn’t start when I was in middle school or high school or when I was a kid.  It’s something that I’ve always had a love for music, had a love for music, found my niche of being an actual artist and I went for it.  So, that’s something that could be a role model to teach somebody else that, whatever it is, whatever it is that you want to do, you can do it because I am the living proof that—I know you hear it so many times, but it’s crazy when you’re actually living it.  Growing up, you hear you can do anything you want to do, put your mind to it, but that is so real.  It’s so real.  So, I want people to know and understand it and just to know my story, Sadie Hawkins, and where I came from, literally nothing to this big, global star that I’ll be in ten years. [Laughter]

Nanci O:    Great!  Thank you so much for your time, Sadie.  I have much respect for you and your grind and what you’re doing.  I definitely look forward to Girl, Interrupted!

SADIE:    Thank you.  Before I go, I definitely want to give a shout out to the team.  Like I said, I’m nothing without my team.  Kelly Jackson, Dondada, Six Man, Thickie Monroe, I’m nothing without this group of people, so I’ve just got to give a shout out to them.  Anybody who’s listening, they can follow me and find me on Twitter, @SadieHawkinsSC, and like I said, South Carolina.  And also, for any bookings or features or anything might want to hit me up about, they can contact my management at overdeliverentertainment@gmail.com.  And for you, Nanci O, thank you so much for supporting me from the beginning.  I definitely appreciate you interviewing me today, and I’m just forever grateful.  Anything that you ever need from me, I got you.

Nanci O:    All right, so, Sadie Hawkins, for the listeners of Chapel Hill and beyond, can you please introduce your brand new record?

SADIE:    I will!  Hey, everybody, this is your girl, Sadie Hawkins, coming from Columbia, South Carolina, and this is my new single, Cocky, featuring Yo Gotti.  Shout out to Nanci O for the opportunity.  You guys, check me out!

Nanci O:    Very good, all right, you guys, have a very good evening and once again, I thank you for your time.

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