Rapper SD Talks Chiraq, Dollar Pizza, and Fondness for Maroon 5
The first time I came across SD, it was only for a fleeting moment. Around the 2:20 mark of the third episode of Noisey's web series "Chiraq," released in February, a bubbly beat fades in, and the words "White Bitchez, SD" flash on the lower third of the frame. The song so caught my attention that it overshadowed the rest of the video, which follows Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, and a half-dozen more GBE affiliates into a McDonald's in Times Square.
I typed "White Bitchez" into Google, and suddenly I was lost in a YouTube vortex of SD's music for over an hour. Which, I later learned, is roughly the same amount of time it took SD to write "White Bitchez."
"You won’t even believe this shit, bro," the 19-year-old Chicago native says, slouched on a couch in the ANTENNA office a few days before an early-Summer show at NYC's Webster Hall, flipping a handful of dreads out of his face to flash a toothy grin. "I did all that shit in three days. The song, video, all of it. I wrote the song in like an hour, two hours."
He says he wasn't pleased on his first viewing on the video, but on multiple viewings, grew fond of it. When I ask where he found the (white) girls to co-star with him in the visuals, he says he can't tell me because "if the public found out, they’d go crazy." But, he admits, "it was easy."
Public outrage or not, the track is self-explanatory — white bitches love to party. And, in fact, during our half-hour long hangout, he silences a few ringtones that begin blaring out of his pocket, at which points his "I got this bitch in my phone and that bitch want me to keep on callin' her" line seems appropriate.
The video has 1.5 million YouTube views since October (our office is responsible for at least 2,000 of those). Others, like his breakout banger "We Wassup," or "Can't Tell Me Shit," a collaboration with Fredo and Lil Reese, have even more. Admittedly, those numbers are dwarfed by his contemporaries Keef, Fredo, Reese, and Lil Durk. But until two summers ago, SD had yet to record a track in his life. And he's still a teenager.
SD is as coy about the filming of "White Bitchez" as he is about the meaning of his name, of which he has a giant tattoo on his neck and throat area. He mumbles cryptic shit like, "You'll find out eventually," as if he doesn't even remember what it stands for. Born Sadiki Thirston, SD grew up in project housing on the South Side of Chicago, not unlike many of the well-known drill rappers who have gained national notoriety.
As a kid, SD played football and basketball, and even says he took some karate classes. He made it to his sophomore year at DuSable High School — his football player profile page still sits on MaxPreps — before giving up, then trying an alternative learning program at one of Chicago's Banner Academy schools. He lasted two days at Banner before quitting and turning to the streets. "School got too hot," he says. "So I was like, fuck school for a minute."
Lucky for SD, rocking with Keef and producers like Young Chop and Dree The Drummer (the genius behind the boppy "White Bitchez" beat) gave him the tools to jumpstart his music career. His most polished project to date, last summer's Life of a Savage 3, features a guest appearance from Riff Raff, among others. Outside of the occasional reference to his young daughter, SD pretty much sticks to the typical tenets of drill music when it comes to the content of his songs — drugs ("Overdose"), sex ("Just Wanna") and money ("Gotta Get It") — but he has a unique ability to straddle the line between street authenticity and party music, whether he realizes it or not.
Bottom line: His music is fucking catchy.
I point out that the 2014 XXL Freshmen List has four rappers from Chicago. Yeah, he says. "But it don't have SD on it." It's hard to tell if he's joking, since he's still far from such a list, but even the FADER has called SD "the most consistently underrated member of GBE." (SD's affiliation with individual members of GBE remains strong, but he stresses that he's not signed to Glory Boys, and that he is fully independent.) He's already dropped a pair of tracks from his forthcoming mixtape, Truly Blessed — its first single, "Loyalty," and the Chop-produced "Complaining" — a project he promises will turn heads.
Read the full interview with SD below for more on his musical influences, touring experience, favorite foods, and aspirations in the animal kingdom.
When you travel to other cities, like New York, does it give you perspective on Chicago?
A lot of cities are calmer than Chicago. Like more chill and relaxed.
That’s funny, since people consider New York a pretty chaotic scene.
Well yeah, there’s some crazy motherfuckers out here. The people out here are crazy as hell, but it’s chill. But ain’t shit like Cali. People in L.A. are crazy as fuck. But I fuck with Cali, though.
What’s your favorite city that you’ve visited?
L.A. or New York. I’ve been in New York for a minute now, damn man, now that I think about it. When I first came out here, though, I could never stay out here too long. It just wasn’t my climate. I couldn’t get right to it. Hell nah, I had to leave. I’d stay for a day or two and then I’d have to leave. I’d get sick, bro.
Do you think—
Hold on— the food! The food, bro! That’s another thing, that shit messed me up out here. I wouldn’t be able to eat shit. I don’t know why. What do they do to they food?
What do you like to eat when you’re at home?
Cheeseburgers. Burgers. Pizza.
What is it about New York food that you don’t like?
It just seems like they don’t cook foods right, bro. The shit be undone. I can’t eat shit out here. I’ve been eating Popeye’s and pizza. What’s that pizza spot we been going to? Yeah, 2 Bros Pizza. Bro, that’s the best pizza out here.
The dollar-slice joint? Man, I used to eat 2 Bros every day when I was an intern.
That’s the best shit out here, for real.
So if you can’t eat the food anywhere else, does that mean you’ll live in Chicago forever? Where are you going to be in 10 years?
Ten years from now? In a different country somewhere. I ain’t gonna be here too long. It’s just a matter of time.
Have you been out of the country?
I did some shows in Canada, but I ain’t been overseas yet. And they show love, too, in Canada. I’ve been to Toronto and Montreal. Turnt up. And they got the thots up there, don’t they. I know you into some type of thot.
I thought I was interviewing you.
[Laughs] I’m just saying.
When did you meet Chief Keef and all the other GBE guys?
I’m 19 now, so probably about 14, 15. We’re all from the same hood. Everything is right around each other. Close as hell. We met in the studio. Crazy, ain’t it? We weren’t even rapping yet. Just hanging out. Well, Sosa was rapping but none of us were rapping yet. I actually met him through my cousin, and ever since the first day we met, we was always together.
Was Keef the one that suggested you start rapping?
Nah. I used to rap, but I didn’t take it serious. He was the only one around me, at the age I was, that was actually taking the shit serious, like, this is something I want to do. I was just in the studio for fun. The first songs I ever made were for Life of a Savage. That was the first mixtape I ever made and the first complete songs I ever did.
When did you decide you wanted to record a mixtape?
I was getting on songs with a lot of the guys. And I’d think about it like, "Damn, I’ve never done a song by myself." I didn’t even know how to lay a hook down, none of that shit. I ain’t even know how to write anything. Then I made my own mixtape.
What was the reaction from people when you put out that first mixtape?
It shocked the shit out of me. I ain’t gonna lie, it shocked the shit out of me. I didn’t know I had that many people watching me at that time. For me not to have any music out there, and me not even being in the picture, I didn’t think I had that many followers. Shit happens though, man.
Do you think Life of a Savage 3 really put you on the map to an even larger audience?
I looked at it as like, just me getting into a comfort zone, starting to get comfortable with what I’m doing. And this new Truly Blessed shit, it’s going to wake motherfuckers up.
You did a song with Riff Raff on Life of a Savage 3. What’s he like?
He’s cool as fuck. He be teed up, turnt up. His ass be turnt up to the max. I used to think I was turnt up. I get turnt up — but just certain places, I’ll chill, be laid back. He’s turnt up everywhere, he don’t give a fuck.
Do you feel like you’ve improved as a rapper from your first mixtape until now?
Hell yeah. I told you, I had never made a song by myself until my first mixtape. So, shit, for me being there to now, where I can rap about whatever the fuck I want to rap about, hell yeah, it’s going to put me in a way different position. I’m better at everything I do. I’ve just figured myself out and become smarter with everything I do.
What kind of music did you listen to before you started rapping?
You know how motherfuckers say they listened to that old hip-hop, 1990s shit? I never listened to that shit. I was always 2000s, Eminem, 50 Cent type shit. I never listened to Jay Z and shit. A lot of people say they did. I never listened to that shit.
What do you listen to now?
Me. [Pause] I mean, I listen to all type of music — well, I won’t say I listen to it, because I don’t play the shit constantly, but I hear music. I’ve got an ear for a lot of shit.
Do you listen to anything that’s not drill music?
Hell yeah. I listen to rock groups. I used to listen to Maroon 5. I used to fuck with them hard when I was a shorty. They used to be going crazy. Goddamn, and Justin Timberlake, those motherfuckers used to be turnt up, bro.
Do you still listen to that stuff?
Not really, but sometimes, I’ll see shit, like, what the fuck is this? And I’ll take a listen to see if they’re still doing what they was doing.
Do you think they’ve ever listened to you?
What’s your favorite SD song?
All of them, I listen to all of them. Because there used to be a time where I didn’t listen to myself. I just didn’t like that shit. But then I became a fan. After Life of a Savage 2, I became a fan. I look at my music career from a different perspective. I don’t look at it like this is something I’m doing. I look at it like it’s another motherfucker doing it. That’s why, where a lot of motherfuckers go to the studio just because they feel like they have to record some shit, I don’t like to waste my time on that shit. If I don’t fuck with the shit, I don’t care if I’m in the studio for 12 hours, it won’t work.
How is your music different from other drill music artists?
I make music that ain’t just for me to listen to or people where I come from to listen to. I make music for the world to listen. I want people to go back in 20 years and still listen to my shit.
I heard you don’t follow sports and you don’t watch TV.
I don’t fuck with TV, bro. That shit is made up man, all this fake ass shit.
So what else do you do? Do you have any hobbies?
Studio. I smoke weed a lot. Other than that, I’ll sit in the studio all day, all year.
Do you have any pets?
I’m getting a lion.
Hell yeah, he’s going to walk to my window and I’m going to throw his ass steaks and shit. He’ll be right in the backyard, and I’ll throw him food. You can come visit, go in the backyard and kick it with him.
For more from SD, follow him on Twitter @SD_GBE300.