On the Road… with Saweetie

The 2022 Pirelli Calendar aims to capture the atmosphere for an artist on tour – for American rapper Saweetie, performing is all about “touching the people, giving the love back to the fans who support me”

It would be impossible to capture the multi-faceted career of Saweetie in a single image. She’s a rap star, songwriter, actress, activist, social media powerhouse and entrepreneur with her own Icy fashion line and record label (to name just a few of her roles). McDonald’s even named a menu item after her (The Saweetie Meal).

The artist, born Diamonté Harper, is also a fashion icon known for her head-turning looks as much as for her bold lyrics and infectious beats. So it was fitting that her Pirelli photo shoot showcased that innate style, capturing the singer in two dramatic outfits in the equally stunning location of the Italian island of Capri.

Harper, 28, posed for Bryan Adams in a sparkly, backless silver cocktail dress, sipping wine on a balcony of the Hotel Scalinatella, the Tyrrhenian Sea glittering behind her. She was also photographed in the hotel lobby, this time in an elegant black crop top and matching skirt with colourful platform sandals, long, orange rhinestone-encrusted nails and her platinum hair swept into immaculate curls.

Based in Los Angeles, the hip-hop artist began writing songs as a teenager, gaining an online following with videos of herself freestyling over rap beats in her Toyota. She released her breakout song Icy Grl in 2017, which was certified platinum in the US, followed by the debut EP High Maintenance the following year. Her 2019 EP Icy included the hit My Type. She has released four singles from her forthcoming debut album, Pretty Bitch Music – Tap In, Best Friend (featuring Doja Cat), Back to the Streets (featuring Jhené Aiko) and Fast (Motion). In Spring 2021 she reached one billion streams on Spotify.

Harper is also dedicated to inspiring and empowering her fans. She recently created the Icy Baby Foundation, which aims to equip “the underserved youth with the values and vision to pursue their dreams” via a range of educational workshops.

After the Pirelli shoot, she talked about the thrill of connecting with fans and how her music is “travelling” the world.

What does touring mean to you?
Touring means touching the people, giving the love back to the fans who support me and putting on a good show.

When you’re on tour, how do you make your accommodation feel like home?
What makes me feel like I’m at home is my blanket. My blanket and candles.

What would you say is the best place where you’ve played a show?
The best place is Dublin, Ireland. They know every word to every song. It was such a great feeling as an artist.

How do you deal with the time away from those closest to you and what do you do to stay connected to them?
To stay connected to friends and family, I thank God for FaceTime.

What do you do to keep yourself sane and stay balanced when you’re on tour?
That’s a really good question and when people ask me that I just have one answer: I just sleep. I think sleep is the ultimate form of self-care while I’m away from home.

Tell us about your relationship with your fans? What do you like about meeting fans?
My favourite thing about meeting fans is when they share their stories on how my music helped them get over a break-up, motivated them, just inspired them to be better at life. I think the fame and the money is cool, but I know that my work is done when I’m able to inspire and influence people for the better.

How would you describe the experience of being on stage performing and connecting with your fans? What does their support mean to you?
My fans’ support means everything; without them I wouldn’t be anything. I feel like my brand goes beyond my local circumference, it goes beyond my country, it’s global. Even in Capri, it’s such a beautiful town and it’s a million miles away from LA, and the fact that people know me out here, it’s really gratifying. It’s letting me know that I’m doing my part and that my music is travelling.

Do you get inspired by touring, do you ever write songs when you’re on tour?
Yeah, I think life just inspires everything about my music, so when I’m on the road I think that’s when I’m the most inspired.

What was the experience like of being photographed by Bryan Adams?
It was super exciting. I know he’s iconic so I was a little nervous. I always get nervous before jobs because I always want to make sure I either meet or exceed expectations, but he was a pleasure to shoot with. He’s cool. He’s fun, we were choppin’ it up the whole time… and that’s always fun because when you feel like you know who you are working with, it makes the experience more comfortable.

What are the biggest challenges of going on tour for you?
I think the biggest challenge, at least for me, I don’t have an entourage, so I don’t have a lot of friends and family around me, so I do feel lonely at times. I think feeling lonely is the biggest downside when touring.

What does being a star mean to you?
Being a star to me means having responsibility, whether you like it or not. I think it comes with the territory, which is why I think it’s important for me at least to think of purpose. I think my purpose is to inspire. I think my purpose is to help people who are consuming my music, because I know what it feels like to be that weird teenager going through growing pains and music was my source of therapy. So I think that being a star, I think you hold a great responsibility to your fans.

Who would be your dream act to tour with?
It would have to be someone iconic, like a Rihanna, like a J.Lo, like a Nicki [Minaj], like a Beyoncé. I’d want to see how a woman who’s paved the way for me, I’d want to see how their team operates and how do they sustain and how do they work through and how do they give such great shows, so definitely somebody I can learn from.