It’s been about 18 months since Stunna Girl’s “Runway” hit peak levels on the short-form video app TikTok and she’s still one of the first in line to rep for her hometown of Sacramento.
With the recent release of her latest mixtape Stunna This Stunna That, the Epic records signee is focused on bringing her fans into her world, even as she figures it out for herself. She’s intent on becoming a star and she sees it on the horizon just as clearly as she did a decade ago.
There was a three-year stint in between where she found herself behind bars at a California youth facility for engaging in some unsavory activity—there was a robbery charge, a gun charge, and a pesky assault charge that reappeared around the time of her sentencing—but once she was released, Stunna hit the ground running.
“People still don’t realize that I can rap for real because I haven’t been rapping how I could really rap,” she says excitedly. “Like, I can rap about real stuff. When I got out of jail, I made that decision for myself, “I don’t care who believe in me, I know what I’m gonna be. I’m not finna wait on you.”
Hip-Hop Wired: How was it for you growing up in Sacramento?
Stunna Girl: Growing up in Sacramento is like anywhere else, I grew up in the hood. There were seven of us in the household and we lived in a two bedroom. My mom hustled and went to school sometimes. I’m the third oldest. I definitely watched my younger siblings while we were growing up.
A lot of people who haven’t been to the West Coast, don’t realize that there are huge differences between the Bay Area and LA County…
Even Sac too! Like, when I started doing music, a lot of people were having this discussion about the Bay Area, but when I was growing up I used to think that we were the same people, you know? But they were like, “No! Like Sacramento’s this. Oakland’s the Bay Area…” Sacramento’s basically the Valley, but we’re an hour and a half away from the Bay. We’re not the same though, we have two different cultures. Sacramento has gangs but the Bay Area bangs their blocks. They don’t claim us and we don’t claim them. Sacramento has its own people. We’re the capital.
When “Runway” popped online, what did your family make of it?
It definitely was a thing that we didn’t know right away, because at that time I didn’t know how strong TikTok was, but I kinda knew in my head because my little sister loved my music although she had moved to South Carolina with my mother to get away from everything out here. So my sister would send me all these videos and stuff from the middle of nowhere and I’m like, “I must be going up, because she knows my music…” We really didn’t know but the song was out there. I pretty much knew when all the labels started calling me.
How long have you wanted this for yourself?
I’ve seen this happening for myself since I was 12 years old. The feedback on that first video? That was 2011 and nobody was talking like I was talking. The video speaks for itself, two minutes long of me just rapping. When I saw everybody in Sacramento going crazy, when I got out of jail I knew I could do it, because they were all going crazy off this one little rap. When I got out, I dropped a bunch of freestyles and they were going up.
What’s been the most outlandish thing to happen while you were working? Either in the studio or onstage?
I would say, when I first started doing music, I did my first show in Oakland and they started fighting in the crowd like really fistfighting. There’s this one part of the song I was performing… That’s how I knew I was gonna be big because I’m performing and they’re reacting in front of my face. It’s going on and on… I can’t even perform at high schools anymore because everybody’s fighting in the crowd. I have this one line that’s like, “Line it up, line it up…” And they were really lining it up in the crowd! That’s how I knew! And that was at an adult show. Then I did a kids’ show and it was the same energy. That’s when I was like, “Oh yeah. It’s lit!”
What would need to happen for you to consider yourself successful?
I definitely feel like when I make it to the Billboards, I’m successful. Because they ain’t think I’d make it this far so if I make it to the Billboards I’m lit. I’m already on the radio.
Talk about what it was like for you when the labels started calling.
I got my first call and did my first meeting and the amount of money they were offering me, it was a lot to me, but I was in the streets at the time. Still, I was like, “If this is my first offer, then I know I can run it up.” So when I went to the meeting, I was really learning information from them. I took in everything they were telling me in all the different label meetings. I learned as I was going but I’ve always been really smart not to just sign with anybody because I didn’t do that before then. I just wanted to see who knew my sound for real and who had my best interests in mind because it wasn’t all about the money, it was like, “You know who gon’ fight for me if anything goes down? The court battles or anything?” I was paying attention to that, pretty much anyone who understood my background and my culture for real.
When I first got on, I didn’t understand how the label thing went, so I learned it. But now, I’m pretty much back to what I was doing originally. For example, the mixtape I just dropped [Stunna This Stunna That], that wasn’t a label decision. That was my decision. When I signed? I finished my tape in three days. I didn’t understand. I never had to clear songs and samples, I never knew all that before. I didn’t want to upset my label, dropping tracks that weren’t cleared, so I just sat back and learned the ropes. But once I did, I was just like, “I could’ve kept doing what I been doing!”
Which track is your personal favorite from Stunna This Stunna That?
I think “Ride” is my favorite song. I’m really rapping on there and I just like the vibe on that song.
How many songs do you think you have just sitting in the vault?
At least over 50 for sure. It’s really easy for me. I started off rapping on video, raw.
What would you say to people who put you in the “twerk music” box?
I’m really everything though because I can do a twerk song, a drill song, a real life song… I can even do some R&B, so I can’t really be boxed in. If you listen to my tape, there are only like two twerk songs on there.
Is there anyone in Sacramento that you’d like to work with that you haven‘t yet?
Everyone I’ve wanted to work with already reached out to me so I really don’t have a list. But honestly, in Sacramento the only person I can think of going as hard as me is Mozzy… We’re like, the top two people out there. There’s really nobody else.
What’s been your favorite part of the climb thus far?
My favorite part was finally being able to just be an artist because before that I was just pushing by myself. I was doing my own videos, scheduling my own [studio] sessions, bit when I got signed it was like, I can finally be an artist. I ain’t gotta choose between the music and the streets. I feel like that’s the best part.