Remaking a song from the hottest artist in the industry is a dicey proposition. For most emerging artists, it’s a bad move, one that keeps them on the musical periphery. For Dreezy, her rendition of Nicki Minaj and Lil Herb’s “ChiRaq” catapulted her to national prominence because of her fiery delivery, ferocious lyricism and magnetic microphone presence.
“I’m a fan of Nikki Minaj and I like what she did on the original ‘Chiraq’ with Lil Herb,” Dreezy says of the 2014 cut. “But I got the best bars in Chicago so it was only right for me to remix it and represent. The day my version of ‘ChiRaq’ came out her boyfriend texted us saying ‘You won’t last a week.’”
Dreezy has more than outlasted that prediction. Today, she’s one of the game’s most promising artists, a lyricist equally adept at delivering mind-blowing punchlines, riveting street-based stories, introspective selections and odes to true love. Her talent is on full display on 2014’s acclaimed Schizo mixtape, as well as her just-released Call It What You Want EP.
Dreezy developed her writing prowess growing up in a number of locations throughout the South Side of Chicago. By the time she was in kindergarten, she started drawing. Soon thereafter, she kept diaries and began crafting her own tales.
“Sometimes I wrote really dark, sad stories about rape, murder and violence or stories about rocky relationships,” she recalls. “I remember writing a poem about my grandma when she passed away. I was always telling other people’s stories weaved with mine. I saw and experienced a lot and had to mature at a young age. I expressed it all through my poetry.”
Even as a child, Dreezy’s words were piercing. “I had no filter as a kid,” she says. “I was always saying something and not realizing what I just said. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just smart for my age and wanted to express my opinion — and it got me in trouble. My mom got to a point where she just couldn’t deal and my dad had to tighten my ass up. When I moved to Dad’s, I learned there’s a time and a place for everything and not to go on first emotion with stuff.”
But the move brought its own set of complications. After getting caught stealing, Dreezy’s father put her on punishment for three months. Rather than sulk, Dreezy wrote to a beat CD she had. She’d grown up listening to Ciara, Bow Wow and B2K. But as a rapper, she was channeling Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Drake.
“When punishment was over I went straight to the studio and recorded all those songs, resulting in my first mixtape, The Illustration,” Dreezy explains. “I was talking about my life and really going hard, just giving bars. My auntie made a bunch of copies and I passed them out at school. The principal heard it, called me in to the office over the loudspeaker – and busted me for cursing on the tape.”
Dreezy’s profane raps were matched by straight-As in the classroom. Similarly, her lyrical skills translated well to her AP writing class, in which she excelled. She applied to and was accepted into Northern Illinois University. Dreezy attended the school for a few months, but dropped out to pursue music full-time.
In 2013, a friend introduced her to producer D. Brooks Exclusive, the beatsmith whose work with King Louie, Lil Herb and others had him perched as one of the Windy City’s hottest rising sonic architects. “Chicago is known for a hard drill sound and Brooks was the only producer really adding piano melodies and violins, more feeling to his music,” Dreezy says. “And when the sound changes, he knows how to embrace it and make it his own.”
Brooks produced Dreezy’s Schizo mixtape, which was released in February 2014. Her subsequent work on the “ChiRaq” remix led to her appearance on Common’s “Hustle Harder,” a cut from his acclaimed 2014 album, Nobody’s Smiling. The pioneering Chicago rapper appeared on Dreezy’s “No Good,” solidifying their bond.
“I know if I ever need to talk to someone, Common can give me some good, sound advice,” she says. “He has good intentions and doesn’t want anything from me.”
Common isn’t the only prominent artist checking for Dreezy. “A few females reached out when ‘ChiRaq’ took off: Rah Digga, Shawnna, Remy Ma, Tish Hyman and some others,” she says. “I’ve already done collabs with Tink, DeJ Loaf, and Chicago female MCs Sasha Go Hard and Katie Got Bandz. Sasha is like my sister. Our friendship started out from rapping but we’re like sisters now. Katie and I are really good friends, too. We support each other. There’s room for everybody. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
As Dreezy makes her mark among music industry icons and new artists alike, she remains focused on being counted among the genre’s elite. “My goal is to be legendary,” Dreezy says. “Music is my purpose and I want to set the bar — especially for females — and break all the records that come with it.”