How'd Tampa Rapper Doechii Go From TikTok To Top Dawg? She's 'Persuasive'
After going viral on TikTok in 2021 with the nostalgic track “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” which details her origin story, Doechii has been breaking in the industry. The self-proclaimed Swamp Princess and rapper, whose given name is Jaylah Hickman, performed her enticing single “Persuasive” at the 2022 BET Awards, delivering an impressive open season freestyle for XXL Freshman that landed her on their Freshman list the same year. She was featured with David Guetta, Missy Elliott, Afrojack, and Bia in the catchy club-ready collab “Trampoline.”
And now, always pressing herself to improve, Doechii is the MTV Push Artist for July 2022. “I’m tedious about it as a craft, and I wanna get better,” she said. “And so, I’m constantly trying to push myself to make bridges and make them better and find new pockets, new ways and harmonies and incorporate a lot of skill into my art.”
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Doechii was influenced by local underground artists like Tom. G, Trina, and Trick Daddy. She wrote her first rap verse titled “Cookie Cream Pie” for her talent show in sixth grade. “It [had] some corny lyrics,” she recalled. “I genuinely love it, but I’m embarrassed to sing it.” She realized her passion for performing when she and a friend staged a dance to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” at their school’s talent show. “It was an overwhelming adrenaline of nerves and anxiousness, but I still kinda really liked it.”
At first, Doechii did not have the resources to mix and produce audio, so she wrote her songs acapella. “Which I didn’t know was a skill ’til now,” she said. “But now, I feel like I’m spoiled and I prefer to hear [the] beat first and then I’ll write music after.” When she finally was able to mix audio in her music, her first song “Girls,” a scorned five-minute track about unreliable people,was posted on SoundCloud in 2016 under the username “Iamdoechii.” The track was rereleased five years later in her 2021 EP Bra-Less.
Doechii self-published two more EPs, Coven Music Session, Vol. 1 in 2019 and Oh the Places You’ll Go in 2020. The former was described by Rolling Stone as “an autobiographical melange of pop, dance, and hip-hop.” The latter featured her viral hit “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” catapulting her into the limelight. The project’s collaboration with Isaiah Rashad and Kal Banx, the R&B-hip-hop track “Wat U Sed,” has garnered over 22.23 million Spotify streams. In 2022, Doechii made her break signing with the legendary Tap Dawg Entertainment and Capitol Records, working closely with producer Kal Banks in polishing her pensive ode to marijuana, “Persuasive.”
“We were drinking, we were dancing, we were having a good time,” Doechii said of the recording process. She describes the track, which she performs below, as both “slumber party music” and “rooftop music.” While it was originally intended to bring people together, the song also became a way for the rapper to express her queerness, which she will continue to do on her forthcoming four-song EP She/Her, Black Bitch. She said, “I wanted something that sonically represented the feeling that I feel when I’m around my friends and people that understand me and accept me as a gay woman.”