By Curran Reynolds
Photos by Samantha Marble
A self-made “female Bernie Madoff,” an insatiable smoker, and an all-around champion of the “ratchet” lifestyle, Bay Area rapper Lil’ Debbie, aka Jordan Capozzi, is doing it her way. Coming up as part of the White Girl Mob with Kreayshawn and V-Nasty, and famously partnering with RiFF RAFF for “Brain Freeze,” “Michelle Obama,” and the “2 Cups” video, Lil’ D established herself as an artist in her own right with “Bake a Cake” and “Ratchet,” off her first EP, 2013’s Queen D. High Times caught up with the blonde 24-year-old early one morning in Manhattan’s Standard Hotel, a few weeks before she unexpectedly released her second EP, California Sweetheart. Below is the 100 percent unexpurgated interview. The original interview ran in the July issue of HIGH TIMES, on stands now!
The visual aspect of what you do is really interesting to me. You’ve been quoted saying your inspirations come from things like colors or patterns or fabrics. It’s a lot of visual stuff, instead of saying you’re inspired by this musician or this rapper. You’re here in New York for Fashion Week right now…
I’ve actually been to Fashion Week before. It was a couple years ago, I came out here with Stevie Boi who makes sunglasses. It was fun. It was kind of like my introduction to Fashion Week. It was crazy, a little bougie. Now I’m back out here. I just did a show for Palladium and Married to the Mob. And I’m working with Married to the Mob now.
You have a collaboration with those guys, what’s that all about?
I’ve always been a fan of Married to the Mob. I actually did a project on them when I went to FIDM [Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising] in LA. Then I did a shoot for A-Life and the owner of Married to the Mob found me from there, reached out to me, and we kind of clicked up and we honestly get along really well. She’s a crazy bitch just like me, you know what I’m saying? Strong, independent, all about women and empowering the pussy. I’m honestly surprised at how much we get along because most white women in their thirties just don’t understand me. I get a lot of side eyes like, “Hmm, bitch, what are you doing?” So that’s fun. It should be out in March.
What’s your part in the collaboration? You’re designing stuff for them?
It’s a lot of catchphrases I say. She’s big on that kind of thing, like “Good dick will imprison you” and shit like that, it’s just hilarious. We’re both 50/50. It’s a little hard being on different coasts but thank God for e-mails.
To take this in a HIGH TIMES direction, the fact you get inspiration from visual stuff and you apply that to music, does weed play a role in that for you? Is weed part of that creative process?
Oh, definitely. I’m definitely smoking in the studio, before I get to the studio, after. If I didn’t smoke weed, I feel like I would be a pretty boring, basic bitch. I think a lot of women in the industry are scared to talk about smoking weed. I just don’t really fucking care. I have to smoke. I have anxiety, I get stressed out. At the end of the day I love to smoke a blunt before I go to sleep. At least one during the day. I used to smoke weed consistently all day then I realized, “Whoa, I’m too high for this situation”.
So even Lil Debbie gets “too high”?
Too high for situations, yes. I’m like, “I’m too high to determine that. I don’t know right now.” So sometimes I’ll wait until after 4 or 5 p.m. It really just depends on the day and what I’m doing. But smoking weed definitely has an effect and is an inspiration on my music.
That’s what I would have guessed. You’re a businessperson who’s going places, you’re creating all kinds of crazy stuff. It would seem that weed plays a creative role in your life, a positive role.
Yeah, it’s always a good time, you know what I’m saying?
You talk about female empowerment and I get that too. You have a bossy vibe – it’s like you’re in charge, not pandering or trying to be sexy to please men.
It’s a constant struggle with me. I’m like, “I want to be really girly and cute” but then I’m like, “I want to be comfortable” and it’s back and forth. I mean, I’m single, I’m a rapper. It’s so funny because I always say, “Nobody wants to date a rapper.” But I’m a rapper. Nobody probably wants to date a female rapper. It’s probably a lot to deal with. It’s a struggle. I go back and forth. I’m really a tomboy. I’m girly to a certain extent. I’ll open a Swisher, break it down. “Wow, you know how to roll a Swisher?” Yeah, I could do it driving, I could do it any way I need to get it done. Independence is key but at the same time it’s hard being a female rapper and dating men and conforming to what men want. I feel like men have a lot of say in how women should act but, like, how would you know? You don’t have a pussy.
One thing that’s cool about you is that there has been a progression. You talk about how, on one hand, you feel like you’re cute, girly, on the other hand, a tomboy, on the other hand, a boss, an entrepreneur. I feel like we’ve seen that whole spectrum. Going back to Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” video, you’re like the cute kid in the background, a sidekick to Kreayshawn, then you’re in RiFF RAFF’s videos and it’s a bit of a different vibe, then your first videos, like the “2 Cups” era, there’s still a cuteness, you’re hanging out, it's a happy vibe. Then it gets fierce with the newer videos like “Bake a Cake” and “Ratchets.”
I feel like “Ratchets” was like, bam! People were like, “Whoa.”
Those videos are amazing. You have the Marie Antoinette look in “Bake a Cake.”
I’m glad you got that!
Yeah, “let them eat cake.” Talking paintings. I love that video. And “Ratchets” is totally fierce.
I try to do the more girly stuff through my music videos.
Girly, but you’re the boss.
Thanks, I like that.
Can you talk about the new album, California Sweetheart? I was hearing that was supposed to be out last year.
Oh my gosh. When I started rapping, I started with RiFF RAFF. So things were a little crazy. Our manager was more focused on RiFF RAFF, of course, which he should have been, and I feel like I was still developing as a person and an artist while working with RiFF RAFF. RiFF RAFF’s off the hook, he’s crazy. He’s a very creative guy. He’s playing out skits all day, he’s totally next level. Our manager at the time wasn’t attending to my needs, he wasn’t focusing on me. I feel like [California Sweetheart] would have been out a while ago if I'd had the attention I needed. Then I met my manager and we got a better location on a studio and I went over music I had before and, I’m so crazy, I’ll listen to a song and two weeks later I’ll be like, “I fuckin’ hate the sound of my voice, I need to go back and do it.” My manager now will be like, “No, you’re tripping.” You know what I’m saying? I’ll spend five to six hours in the studio and spend an hour on two lines because I don’t like how they sound. So that, me postponing it, is me being anal. I just want it to come out and I want people to have a real feel for who I am. I put out “Ratchets,” “Bake a Cake,” “Michelle Obama,” “2 Cups” – all that stuff is really cool but I feel like people could get more of a vibe of who I am through California Sweetheart. I mean, it’s called California Sweetheart. I’ve had that album cover since last year, I shot it a while ago.
Has that been seen yet or is that still under wraps?
Under wraps. Pretty Puke shot it.
I keep hearing that name, who’s he?
He does the crazy photos. He’s super crazy. I’m glad he’s getting shine for his work now. He shot for A-Life. He’s more of like a dirty, grimy . . . All on film, none of it’s digital at all. He’s next level. It’s funny, the [California Sweetheart cover] is more a sweeter, softer look. I thought it would be interesting to have a photographer that’s used to shooting gritty street stuff to do a glamorous, pink, soft look. Lil’ Kim, Hardcore, her album cover was inspo for my album cover. So I’m excited for people to see it. I’ve had it for so long. He calls me all the time, like, “Are you gonna put it out?” and I’m like, “I swear to fucking God, if you put that shit out, I will kill you because I’d have to shoot it again and that’s like my baby.” I’ve been working on it so long, California Sweetheart is my baby.
Is there a label? How are you guys going to release the album?
I’m scared of signing to a label. I’m gonna keep it real. After Kreayshawn signed to Sony, I’m dead shit scared. Like, I don’t want to owe you a million dollars. I really do not. That’s a lot of stress. I‘ll probably die before I give you that money back, from stress. I think taking it slow is the best.
Well it seems like you’re doing quite well on your own. In this day and age, you can do things on your own. You have a following…. Let’s talk California. I know you’re from Oakland originally, you’re in LA now. Can you talk about the Bay Area vs. LA?
Totally! We can talk about that. My manager’s from LA and I’m from the Bay. Honestly, it is very different. When I lived in Oakland, I was still traveling back and forth from LA to Oakland, recording and shooting videos with RiFF RAFF, and I would have my LA friends come visit me in Oakland and be like, “This is like the fucking country.” And I’m like, “I could see that, kind of.” I love Oakland. I’ve lived in Berkeley, Richmond, Albany, Oakland, my roommate used to live in San Francisco. Everything around me has been ratchet, you know what I’m saying? Like, ghetto. And I was never discriminated against until I came to LA where people are all about the ratchet, but then when shit would go down I would either get kicked out of the party or people would yell at me. And I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, you guys are all talking about the ratchet and you want to get ratchet and have fun and then when shit hits the fan, nobody’s down anymore? Really?”
Give me an example. What shit hit the fan?
One night I went to this club called Colony. I’d just touched down from Texas and I was like, “I’m going to go out, this is going to be fun.” So I go, I get fucked up, I don’t even know how I get that drunk, I’m dropping cups out of my hand. So then we’re like, “Let’s keep it going, we’re going to go to Hyde.” We go to Hyde and – I’m so little that if you push me, I, like, fly – so one of the waitresses walked by me, pushed me really hard, I didn’t realize she was a waitress, and I walked up behind her and pushed her. And I turned around and it was a huge security guard. I was like, “Oh, you’re not my friend.” And it was three huge security guards and they’re like, “You were touching our waitresses,” and I’m like, “No, no, no, your waitress touched me. You’re tripping.” They threw me out of the club, I’m in front of the club, people are coming out of the club to take pictures with me. I’m so drunk, I’m like, “Fuck your fucking club, I’m fucking taking pictures in front of it, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.” I have a purse in my hand, I’m slapping people in the head with the purse. Meanwhile, here comes fucking Jesus. There’s this guy in LA who walks around like, dead ass, looks like Jesus. So there’s Jesus, I’m taking pictures with Jesus. Valet pulls my car around front and the car literally dies in front of the club because I have no gas.
But basically, the point was, the promoter had invited me to the party and then he yelled at me for getting kicked out of the club. I’m like “Yo, you invited me here, you knew what I was about,” you know what I’m saying? And now you’re not about it. And the bitches in LA, they’re so fucking bougie, they’re like the bougiest bitches ever. Every bitch in LA is like a model or does something like that and they feel like they deserve shit, you know what I’m saying? A lot of people are stuck up in LA. I’ll hang out with producers, like I was with Hit-Boy, we were doing some music together, me and Hit-Boy, and it was funny, one day he said something funny to one of my friends like, “Oh, you’re not going to take my weed,” and I was like, “Boy, hold on, boom, bam, don’t nobody need your weed, I’ll go buy weed right now!” And he was like, “Whoa, that’s that Bay shit. Chill out.”
But I grew up listening to Mistah F.A.B., who rapped about riding the yellow bus. My senior year, you could win “taking the yellow bus with Mistah F.A.B.” to prom. I literally grew up in the hyphy movement. That’s what we called it, the hyphy movement. I grew up listening to Mac Dre. I just feel like the Bay is a small culture that people don’t like to acknowledge but I feel like we’ve sprinkled a lot of game onto the industry. I mean, we have E-40, Too $hort, Mac Dre, we have Iamsu!, Sage the Gemini, we’re making more of a rise. I definitely feel like sometimes I’m discriminated against because I can be a little ghetto, or hyphy, or ratchet. And people are like “You’re white, why are you like that?” But the Bay is so multicultural. It has nothing to do with race. I think that’s where people have like, blurred lines. They think it’s about race but once you go to the Bay and you see how people act and you see the culture and you see the music and the scene, you’re like, “Oh, this has nothing to do with race, this has to do with music and the impact of music on the children.”
What you do comes across looking real to me.
Oh, it’s all real. People are always like, “Do you want to do acting?” and I’m like, “No.” I’m the worst actor, I cannot fake the funk at all. I’m the worst liar. People are like, “Did you read that e-mail?” I’m like, “Yeah . . .” They’re like, “No you fucking didn’t.” So it’s really hard for me to lie and it sucks because I wish I was a good liar. I need lessons.
To take it into HIGH TIMES territory, about the Bay and LA, let’s talk weed. In LA, you have your card?
I actually don’t have my card anymore, I need to get it. I’m a rebel. I never had a medical marijuana card until I moved to LA. The reason I got a card in LA is that I didn’t know anyone who was selling weed off the block. When I lived in Oakland I would buy $60 worth of weed a day. A day. I was like, “Let me add that up in my head.” Sixty dollars a day, 30 days in a month. I’m like paying the guy’s fucking rent. On top of that, I’m referring my brothers to him, I’m referring my friends to him, my roommate, my roommate’s boyfriend, the guy I’m dating. I’m making this guy like $3,000 a month. And then I moved to LA, I’m like, “Shit, I don’t know anybody.” So I had to go and get my card and then from there I was going to clubs. Clubs are cool, I like clubs. They’re fun. They have better weed in clubs. That’s when I noticed, I was like, “Yo, I’ve been smoking weed from the block but this is where it’s at, in the club. The weed I’ve been smoking off the street isn’t as good as the weed in the clubs.”
More to choose from . . .
You have new favorites?
Definitely. I like going to the clubs. It’s rare that I buy weed off the streets. The only weed they really have in the Bay right now, well, they have Cookies. Girl Scout Cookies came from the Bay. And Grapes, like, Purple. I grew up smoking Grapes. When I go back to the Bay, my friend’s like, “You know I got an eighth of Purple on lock,” and I’m like, “Nobody wants to smoke Grapes anymore.” I’m over that. I don’t think I even get high off that weed anymore.
So that’s what you’re referring to in the song “Bake a Cake?” That wasn’t a syrup reference?
In my mind it was weed but we can talk about syrup. Syrup’s not cute. You shouldn’t sip syrup. Syrup’s bad.
It looks cool in your videos.
It looks cool in the videos. But I’ve definitely met some girls who cannot handle their high and that gets real weird, real fast.
So how about that Lil Debbie weed, what’s the story?
I’ve wanted to create my own hybrid but the weed industry is very male dominated. I’ve hit up growers and they don’t want to take a chance on me financially. Most growers are older men and they don’t know about who I am or what I do. I’m trying to find a cool grower who will work with me. But the Loft Co-op in Woodland Hills, California, they caught wind of who I was and they named an OG Kush after me. It sold out immediately. Now other clubs are taking the name without asking me. The domino effect is crazy.
With the pro-weed stance in your music, do you consider yourself to be making a political statement? Are you on a legalization mission? Or is your music just a snapshot of your own personal lifestyle, and people can take it or leave it?
I’ve never looked at myself as making a political statement. I mean, I believe everyone should have a choice to smoke a thing that grows in the ground. But my music is about a lifestyle. I’ve been smoking for ten years. I suck at lying. I suck at acting. I’m smoking everywhere I go, I can’t hide it. You either fuck with it or you don’t.