Why does New York inspire you?
New York is home and is what molded me into who I am. I love the abrasive environment, the hustle, and the diversity - you can walk down one block and it'll be a Dominican neighborhood, then turn to the left and find yourself immersed in Arab culture. It’s beautiful. NYC also gave me tough skin. In New York, you see the drastic spectrums of income. Being from the hood, I grew up on food stamps, and a hard way of life—but I went to school with people with different lifestyles and incomes. It was a culture shock because, before high school, I thought everyone was living in the projects. I thought I was the majority. Then I went to my high school and became a “low-income minority.” Seeing the different ways of lifestyles inspired me to work harder on whatever dream I had because my family and I are deserving of the world. If my parents came here to the US for a better life, I’m sure as hell not going to die in the hood.
What has been the hardest part of your journey as an artist?
The hardest part is standing out and having people take you seriously. The industry is oversaturated with so many talents, and all of the biggest artists are backed by major labels or have access to a plethora of money. My entire life, I’ve never had money, so it’s been harder to get my music out there. However, I have supportive fans and peers that will go hard for me so that one day I can be positioned right next to the artists that have a backing. I mean, it's already happening. When I dropped my third project last week, I charted for the first time. I was #1 on the R&B album charts, amongst all these artists I looked up to. So that right there just shows you what you can do if you work hard.
Who inspired you growing up?
...My [mother] inspired me as a kid. She always said, no matter what your zip code is, or your financial situation, you need to go after whatever makes you happy. I knew the one thing that kept me sane and was always there for me was music. My sister also played a vital role in my life. I always loved how loved she was. She could walk into a room and everyone would just gravitate towards her. She’s the most beautifully abrasive, ambitious, and confident person I know—and she taught me not to care about what anyone has to say. People will doubt you (whether in school, work, etc…) because they're projecting their fears onto you. Most haters are upset with themselves that they don’t have the courage to do whatever your doing.
How do you find confidence and motivation in a competitive and often exclusive industry?
I found confidence when I learned that I AM deserving of everything that is coming my way. No one is better than me, smarter than me, more talented than me, more creative, etc. We are all humans, just some give up, and others don't. Some work hard, and others don’t. I’m from the projects, so “survival of the fittest” is naturally ingrained in me.
I have new projects to create, more music to drop, more shows to perform at—and more people to inspire.