Saucy Santana and Trina on Fame, Fashion, and Southern Flow
Just two-and-a-half years ago, Saucy Santana was a Miami-based makeup artist working for clients like City Girls. Now, he’s a rising hip-hop star with a juicy southern flow and a series of high-octane, feel-good anthems for the TikTok era. One of Santana’s biggest inspirations is Trina, a fellow bad bitch and hip-hop legend. The two of them recently connected to talk about style, celebrity, and conquering the culture.
SAUCY SANTANA: Hey Trina!
TRINA: Hi, Miss Santana, material girl! You had me waiting for an hour!
SANTANA: I know, I’m sorry. I was running around. I’m in a car right now. Can you hear the AC blowing? I had to go to the barber shop to get my hair cut. I was taking care of my business!
TRINA: I got you baby. Let’s get right into it, ’cause I know you’re busy. Congratulations on everything that you got going on, it is definitely deserved. Since we’re both from Florida, can you start with how being from the south has shaped your style and sound?
SANTANA: I moved to Florida when I was ten. Originally I’m from Bridgeport, Connecticut, so it was a culture shock. North and south, we just do things differently. We have different slang, there’s southern hospitality. That’s when I learned about down-south music, when I started getting into Uncle Luke. I grew up off of you of course, Trick Daddy, Jacki-O, Ice Berg. Our music is just different, we talk that shit. A lot of that stuff molded how I rap today.
TRINA: I love that. My first time seeing you perform, Ima be honest, I was completely impressed. You get on that stage and you leave it on that stage. What gives you that whole fire?
SANTANA: I’ve always been an entertainer. Even in school, everyone was like, “You’re the bitch! We want you to come to the party!” That’s just my personality. At the same time, that’s what I get paid to do, so I always put my best foot forward. You never know who’s out there, who’s watching, so I always try to leave it on the stage whenever I’m performing.
TRINA: Your music is a part of the culture. It’s what we love, it’s fly, you talk that shit. Where do you see yourself fitting in with current sounds?
SANTANA: I always find myself in the conversation around female rap because I rap from a girl’s perspective. I grew up around a lot of girls—my cousins going through it with their baby daddies, my mom going through stuff with my daddy, girlfriends in school going through different things—so rapping from a female perspective has always helped me. When I came out with “Walk Em Like a Dog,” my first hit song, people didn’t have a face to the case. A lot of them thought it was a female rapping. They fell in love with that song. It had a million plays on SoundCloud in one week. I was still doing makeup. That changed my life. I could’ve made a song about gay stuff that solely gays can relate to, but I wouldn’t have been able to touch the world in the way that I have. The majority of my fans are girls ’cause I make bad bitches.
TRINA: Speakin’ for the girls! [Both laugh] I don’t feel like we’re all the way there, but you have broken barriers as a gay rapper. And of course, music is really about women and kids. Once the women are rockin’ with you, it’s up.
SANTANA: Being gay is being normalized, like when you turn on your TV—my favorite show is Power, it’s a gangster show, and in the last season you had a boy on there who was gay. It’s not a big deal like it used to be. I didn’t get the same respect or recognition in 2019 when I first started rapping. People thought, “Oh, he just went viral or this is just a gimmick.” Where as now, I’m walking into the mall and Chance the Rapper is pulling me to the side and saying, “Keep doing your thing, you’re fire.” Kevin Gates, Lil Yachty, they’re showing recognition.
TRINA: Why do you think people connect so hard with your song “Material Girl”?
SANTANA: Growing up as a kid, I didn’t have icy jewelry on my arm, but I wanted it. Everybody wants the finer designer things in life. Whether you’re Black, white, Puerto Rican, you’re like, “I want a Chanel bag! I want a man to buy me a Birkin, take me on a trip, buy me a car, make sure I’m good.” Outside of the material things, it’s being a boss bitch, having that aura, having your shit together, having a good credit score, making sure you have day ones. That comes along with the materials, too.
TRINA: I’m definitely a material girl, honey! [Both laugh] Is there a specific message you’re trying to send through your music? ’Cause to me, it’s bad bitch energy.
SANTANA: People always ask,“How do you have confidence?” It’s not usual to be yourself and not give a fuck, and that’s what I want to give to people. Girls in the gym working on their fitness, getting their waists snatched, girls in the club with their makeup done, waiting outside ’cause they want a big-ass baller, they all wanna hear Santana.
TRINA: How do you feel about going viral on TikTok?
SANTANA: I’m a firm believer that when you try to go viral, you don’t go viral. I’m just being authentically myself when I’m rapping. I’m not thinking of TikTok, I’m thinking of what sounds good, or what feels good. Recently, “Material Girl” went viral on TikTok and it brought the song back to the forefront. When I recorded it in 2019 the independent label I was signed to at the time was like, “Woah, maybe he actually does have talent.”
TRINA: Speaking of being independent, are you still independent?
SANTANA: I’m currently going through the process of signing to a label, so that’ll be official this year. Being an independent artist was great, so I just want the label to understand Santana. I’ve been rapping for two-and-a-half years. I was running everything when it came down to the music videos, trending on TikTok, the beats I wanted, actually writing my raps. Of course my team has helped me, we play hand to hand. But all the creative things have been me. So the label I decided to go with had to make sure that we were all on the same page with everything.
TRINA: I recently saw you on a big Spotify billboard, congratulations on that. I feel like you deserve to be on that big platform. How do you feel about your streaming success?
SANTANA: I recently went from maybe 300,000 monthly listeners on Spotify to 3 million, so I’m grateful for the streaming systems. I need as much exposure as possible.
TRINA: How do you stay humble?
SANTANA: I always try to remember that I’m still human. I remember that I put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else, that when I wake up in the morning my breath stinks, like everybody else. I’m still a person, and I’ve always been popular, but now it’s different, because literally everywhere I go someone’s screaming or excited to see me. I let my fans know, “Hey, it’s a Tuesday, I’m arguing with my boyfriend today, I’m not in the mood. I don’t wanna be mean or rude but…” My dad was a celebrity bodyguard, so I grew up meeting celebrities. It’s so funny, I met you when I was six or seven, I got the pictures.
TRINA: Wow! You gotta let me see those pictures, honey!
SANTANA: I’ve got all these pictures of my dad. There’s one where he was at a concert with Ludacris and he’s got on booty shorts. Being a celebrity, I try not to let everything get to me. We got a lot of stuff, people creating fake narratives and things. Peace of mind is priceless.
TRINA: That’s the big one! So you are always in the fashions, honey. How do you stay so fashionably fly?
SANTANA: I’ve always loved clothes. I was the one that didn’t want no PlayStation, I wanted Nikes. My momma went to school for fashion merchandising, and when I was younger, my dad was a dope boy, so he was always flying in the new shit. He would pick me up from school and take me to the mall, and my mom would be like, “Stop doing that!” ’Cause that lifestyle can get you in jail, the streets ain’t forever. So I’ve always been into having the new drip. During fashion week, it was fun playing dress-up in extravagant clothes, but I’m more into streetwear, Balenciaga sweatpants and a cute little crop top and some sneakers with a Chanel bag. I used to wear a lot of tight clothes, but when you’re dressed like that, people have assumptions about the type of person you are. So I just love anything that’s fly, anything that’s new; Bottega, Balenciaga, Prada, I got shopping bags in the trunk right now. [Both laugh] Material girl shit!
TRINA: Tell us what’s next for Santana. You’re going on tour with Latto, you got songs coming out, big things are popping.
SANTANA: I came in very strong in 2022, having dropped my project in December 2021. This year I’m going to tap into everything. I’ve gotten out of the mindset of feeling like I just want to impress Black people. I was embracing being a hood bitch and being urban, and I had to realize that I’m a rapper with influence. I initially didn’t like being called a gay rapper, ’cause you don’t have to put a specific title on it. But now I’m embracing that, because me being a gay rapper, I can make a hit vogue song, I could do techno music, or EDM music. I could do music that’s supposed to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I could do R&B, I could do a Pepsi commercial, I could do a song with Maroon 5, I could do a song with Trina. I’m able to expand my horizons and conquer everything, and that’s what I plan on doing this year.
TRINA: Well I’m wishing you so much more success and longevity. Continue to evolve and grow, stay loving what you do, and don’t change for nothing.
Makeup by Freedom using Fenty Beauty and JLO Beauty
Photography Assistant Kivenchy
Location NYSFE Magazine Studios
Special Thanks to Quesz Hookahs