2021 has been quite the year for Saweetie. The 27-year-old University of Southern California grad has been in the headlines for both positive and negative reasons as of late. On one hand, the public is still deeply fascinated by her recent and seemingly tumultuous split from Migos rapper Quavo. On the other, the “Icy Girl” rapper has already reached a pinnacle in her brief yet impressive career. Today, we discuss the positive. The social media sensation is a finalist in the Top Female Rap Artist category for the Billboard Music Awards. Even more impressive? She’s managed to wrangle this achievement ahead of the release of her debut studio album, Pretty Bitch Music, which is slated for release later this year.

“I think I’m just in such a state of gratitude,” Saweetie tells EBONY via Zoom. “The fact that I have no album out, but I am still being highlighted, it makes me super appreciative of the recognition. I’m just happy, excited, and grateful to be here.”

All throughout the pandemic, the “Back To The Streets” rapper, whose birth name is Diamonté Harper, has been putting in work. Her content creation strategy is immaculate, keeping fans hooked, laughing, and yearning for more. New music releases and music video drops are flowing like water, which left me wondering how she avoids burnout given all that she was on her plate. While she referred to my inquiry as a “good question,” like many hardworking Black women, she struggles to grasp a firm answer.

“I don’t know. I mean, I sleep when I can,” she finally answers. “That’s how I protect myself.”

In this moment, I’m reminded why Saweetie’s fans adore her on a personal best-friend-in-my-head level. It’s the authenticity that she exudes on a regular basis––even when faced with negativity.

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“I think, when I look at the bigger picture–– or me or anyone else in the spotlight –– we’re all human. We all make mistakes,” Saweetie says when asked how she manages to remain positive when faced with negativity. “I’m positioned where there is a microscope on me. When people talk about me, I’m like, ‘Y’all act like y’all ain’t never made a mistake in y’all life.’ I just feel like the people who decide to choose negativity, I don’t care about their opinions anyway. That’s how I sort of move past it because we all make mistakes.”

We’re nearly halfway through 2021 and if headlines tell the story, this year has been one hell of a ride for Saweetie. So I ask her what’s been her greatest lesson of 2021 up until the point of our conversation. She has a few: “I’ve learned that you have to protect your energy and yourself and you have to be mindful of who you give your time to. Then also, you can’t let anyone frustrate your purpose. My grandmother is a preacher so she’s always preaching about never letting anyone interfere with your path, your journey, your future, or your destiny.”