Sexyy Red always says exactly what’s on her mind.
She’s been that way since she was little. Growing up in St. Louis, she never had a filter, and without even meaning to, she would often say things that shocked her friends. Sometimes it got her in trouble, but she never held back.
Sitting in the Complex office for one of her first major interviews, the 25-year-old rapper is just as unfiltered as she was back then, talking freely about how she’s “in it for the money,” before telling ghost stories and laughing about how she started a lip gloss business with names like “Yellow Discharge” and “Coochie Juice.”
In 2023, Sexyy Red’s unapologetic honesty has helped her become a star. Her Tay Keith-produced song “Pound Town” is a runaway viral hit, getting co-signed by everyone from Cardi B to Post Malone. And thanks to blunt lines like, “My coochie pink, my booty-hole brown,” it’s caught fire on social media over the past few months, spawning countless memes.
Her vulgar lines have attracted a lot of attention, but she considers conversations around sex to be a part of everyday life, and she points out the double-standards around women who use explicit lyrics in their songs, saying, “[Men] talk about fucking bitches all day, every day in their songs. But when we get to talking about it, it’s a problem. But I don’t care what they think, because it’s not for the n****s, it’s for the girls.”
“Pound Town” was the first song Sexyy Red ever freestyled, and as she explains, she was simply describing what was really happening in her life that day. None of the lyrics were written with virality in mind. It just happened. In fact, her whole career has unfolded like that. She only started rapping in the first place when her boyfriend cheated on her and she spontaneously decided to write a diss song about it. Then a funny thing happened: The song was so good that he encouraged her to properly record it, and it quickly gained traction in her community.
Just a few years later, Sexyy Red, born Janae Wherry, is one of the most talked-about new rappers of the year, and she’s ready to discuss everything with Complex. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
Congrats on all the success you’re having with “Pound Town.” What’s the story behind that song?
I was in the studio, just on some lazy stuff, and my people was like, “Come on, you got more songs to record.” And I’m like, “I ain’t got nothing wrote down, come on now.” So I went in the booth, and this was my first time ever freestyling. I heard the beat and just started rapping from there. The whole thing was a freestyle.
One of the lines has been going very viral: “My coochie pink, my booty-hole brown.” You freestyled that, too?
Yeah, I did. When I’m rapping, I just say stuff about myself. I’ll describe anything. If I’ve got some tight nails on, I’m going to say something about my nails or my outfit. So I was really out of town, thugging with my rounds, and then I’m like, “My coochie pink, my booty-hole brown.” It was true! So I said it.
What do you think of all the memes from that line?
I be seeing the memes, I be seeing the captions, and I be laughing every time. I ain’t think that was going to be the part of the song that they liked, though. When I was first promoting the song, I was promoting a whole other part because I got a dance to it: “Too many bitches, where the n****s at?” But then a snippet dropped and they heard the booty-hole brown part, which is when it went viral.
“The reason I started rapping is because my boyfriend was cheating on me with a lame a** bitch, so I made a song about it.”
Your songs are full of viral lyrics. On the same song, people are also quoting, “I’m trying to get my coochie stretch.” Do you think it’s because of how blunt you are?
Yeah, I think that’s what it is. They be saying, “I believe what you’re saying, because you say it with confidence. You’re really telling the truth when you say that.” And I was for real!
I feel like you don’t have a filter.
Have you always been like that?
Yeah. It’s accidental, because I’ll be saying stuff that I don’t know is wrong and I’ll be thinking I’m just speaking my mind. And somebody will be looking at me like I’m crazy for saying that. And I’ll be like, “I’m just saying what’s literally popped up on my mind.” I just be talking out of nowhere. I always say what’s on my mind. That’s my problem. For real. I don’t even be trying to say shit, and then I’ll say it, like, “Oh my God. What did I just say?” Because I just be talking.
You have a great sense of humor, too.
Yeah, I’m funny. And I’m not doing it just to make them laugh. I’m really just being me, and then they’re laughing. I’m not always trying to be funny, but they be laughing when I talk and stuff. I’ll be saying, “Y’all reacted off that?” Even when I said, “My coochie’s pink, my booty-hole brown.” I just was rapping and then they started laughing when I said it. I even kept the laugh in the song.
Obviously “Pound Town” is a very sexual song, as is a lot of your music. Why is it important for you to make sex-positive music?
I don’t even try to. I just be saying what’s really on my mind, literally. Any song I made, I either went through something that day, so I went in there and talked about it, or I’ve been thinking about just put it on the track. So if sex is all on my mind, I guess that’s what I’ll rap about.
I feel like there’s a double standard at times. Like, women artists will get blowback for making sexual songs like “WAP.” But male artists rarely get the same blowback. Have you noticed that? What are your thoughts?
Yeah. They talk about fucking bitches all day, every day in their songs. But when we get to talking about it, it’s a problem. But I don’t care what they think, because it’s not for the n****s, it’s for the girls. And the girls are going to listen to it anyway. But real n****s know what’s going on, so they’re not going to sit there and say, “Why you talking about sex?” That’s natural. Everybody have sex, so why not put it the record?
Have you received much criticism for that?
Yeah, they been talking shit. “All she talking about is sex.” But that’s not all I talk about in my songs. That’s literally not all I talk about. I talk about other shit.
“If you be yourself, you’re going to stand out anyway because you’re just being true to who you is. I’ve always been myself. I never cared.”
How do you come up with the ideas for your songs?
My brain helps me think outside the box to do some crazy ass shit, for real. I got a lip gloss brand and the names for my lip gloss is something that nobody would’ve ever thought of. They was clowning me for these names, but when I was selling it, it sold out and it went crazy. I got one called Nut and it’s the color of some nut. I got one called Gonorrhea. It’s green like gonorrhea. I got one called Yellow Discharge, like how girls be having yellow discharge. Pussy Hole Pink, Booty-Hole Brown, Coochie Juice. And Coochie Juice is clear with silver glitter. It’s cute. The shit cute, and it smells good and it sold. But people was going to talk shit. But other people was like, “You is a marketing genius.” Because the shit sold so fast. And it smells good, too.
You’re definitely a marketing genius. OK, let’s go back to the beginning. What made you want to become a rapper?
The reason I started rapping is because my boyfriend was cheating on me with a lame ass bitch, so I made a song about it. And I made a diss song about him and the girl and her friends. You know, because the friends be in on it too, so I was talking all this stuff about them. And then I showed my boyfriend the song and he was like, “Dang, you straight know how to rap. You straight snap.” And I’m sitting here talking stuff about him, but he was liking it.
He’d go pick up his friends, and he’d be like, “Listen to her song.” And he’d say [to me], “Rap that shit for them.” So I just started rapping.
Then one day I was just like, “Well I’m going to go record the song then, since he said I’m snapping.” So I made a whole other song and went to record it. That’s when everybody was like, “Send me the song,” and it was going around the city. They started calling me, saying, “You want to come to this party this weekend? We can put your face on the flyer and give you a hundred dollars.” I’m like, “Yeah!” So that’s how it really started.
That’s amazing. When you made that first diss song, did you even plan on releasing it? Or did you just want to show it to him?
No, I was just mad and I was like, “I’m going to diss these hoes.” That’s when I started rapping it to him and he was like, “Oh wow, it’s actually tight.” He didn’t know how I was finna come on that diss song. [Laughs.]
What’s the story behind your name Sexxy Red?
My name was already Red, because I used to wear red hair and red stuff all the time. That was my name from middle school, because I had red hair ever since then. When I was trying to upload my song that I had just recorded when I started rapping, I didn’t know what name I should use, and my cameraman was like, “What about Sexyy Red, because you’re sexy and your name’s Red?” I’m like, “Okay. I like that.” We was putting different stuff in front of Red at first, but then when he said Sexyy, I’m like, “I like that.” It fits.
What rappers inspired you before you started?
I loved Project Pat and Juicy J and all them. Three 6 Mafia. Memphis flows. I like Chief Keef. I was listening to Gucci Mane. I like Boosie and Webbie. I like boy rappers. I listen to all the dudes.
Have you always had the sound that you have now? Or has it evolved over time?
Yeah, I feel like I have. It’s just ratchet rap. I got the same flow and I like certain beats, but people be saying I elevated. I guess they’re saying I rap better now.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
People ask me that all the time. I’ll be out and people see what I got on, how I’m dressed extra or something. And they’ll be like, “What do you do? What’s your job?” I’ll be like, “I’m an entertainer.” And they’ll say, “Can we look you up?” I’ll be like, “I don’t know if it’s y’all kind of music.” And they’ll be like, “I don’t care. I just want to hear what you rap about.” I’ll be like, “It’s bad. It’s ratchet.” That’s how I describe it. I be like, “It’s bad. Don’t listen to it around no kids.” But the kids fucking with me, too. They fuck with me hard.
What was your family’s reaction when they first heard your music?
They know I’m crazy, so they don’t say nothing. When I was first dropping and the streets was loving it, my friends would come ride down my mama’s street. This was when I was living with my mama. They’d be playing my song, stop in front of the house, get out, and twerk. Me and my mama were sitting on the porch. She’s like, “Girl, I already know you a ho. I know you ratchet.” So she ain’t care.
How did growing up in St. Louis affect you as a person and as an artist?
I’m really a product of my environment. They be saying, “Oh, she’s ghetto. She dusty.” But I’m really a product of my environment. If they go where I’m from, I’m clean out there. They think I’m dusty? Oh, this is clean. So it’s just real. It is trench, hood shit. It’s turned up out there on some street shit.
I feel like there’s some good energy in St. Louis rap right now too. How do you describe the rap scene right now?
I like St. Louis rappers. I listen to the rappers. In my city, when you go to the parties, they playing all the St. Louis rappers. Everybody from St. Louis listen to St. Louis people. The world hasn’t heard it, but I be like, “Dang, they’re actually tight.” But I’m the one that everybody is seeing from the city. But we got a lot of rappers that I like their music.
Can you name some?
No. This is about me right now. [Laughs.]
What do you think makes you stand out compared to all the other rappers right now?
I be myself. I think that’s what it is. Because there’s not nobody like yourself. So if you be yourself, you’re going to stand out anyway because you’re just being true to who you is. I’ve always been myself. I never cared. When people do regular shit, I don’t want to be regular. I want to stand out. I want to do something that you all wouldn’t do.
Whenever a song like “Pound Town” takes off, some people will look at it and assume it’s an overnight success. But I know you’ve been putting in work for a while. How long have you been doing this before “Pound Town” blew up?
I was doing it since 2019. Shit was not easy. It’s a breeze now because I got help, but before that, I used to have to find a ride to the studio, pay for my own studio time, find a ride to my show, give people gas money to take me, give them all I got just to get to this show type shit. It used to be a lot. I had to stand in front of crowds that was not fucking with me. And I’m still putting on the smile, acting like… But I used to be like, “Damn.” Shit got better, though.
One of your big early moments was the remix of “Slob on My Knob.” Why’d you want to remix that song?
I wanted to remix it because he said “slob on my knob.” But I’m like the girls, we want to get our cat slobbed on. So I’m like, let me make a song about getting my coochie ate, so I just did that.
What does success mean to you?
I ain’t going to lie. I’m in it for the moolah. Because I need money. I got to live. So I want all the money. Whatever I can do to get some money—not no ho shit. No sucking dick shit or nothing like that. But whatever I can do to get some money, I’m going to do it. This is just an example: Say my show is $10,000 and the person only got $5,000. I’m not going to turn that five down. I’m going to at least go to the show, show my face, or something. You’re not going to get the full experience, but I’m going to take that five bands. And it’s going to add up every time. I’m getting everything.
What about on the career side? What are your career goals?
Goals? Yes. I want to get on TV. I want to have a makeup line. I want to sell clothes, hair. I want some stores. I know I’m going to accomplish all of these. And just get my son out of the hood, so he don’t got to grow up in the kind of environment I did. Money is the main route because I feel like money’s going to take you anywhere. So really, money.
You worked with Tay Keith on “Pound Town.” What do you like about his beats?
I like trap beats and hood beats. Beats that they say n***as would rap on. I like stuff like that, for the dudes. I can rap on stuff like that.
He just tweeted that “Pound Town” is going to be the song of the summer. Do you agree?
That’s what everybody’s saying. It already seems like it’s the song of the summer. They’re still fucking with it and listening to it every day. I honestly didn’t even know it was going to turn up like that. When I was recording it as a freestyle, I’m like, “It’s tight,” but I didn’t say, “Oh, this is going to be a hit, this is going to go viral.” I just was like, it’s a cool little fun song to sing with your friends.
Everyone from Cardi B to Kai Cenat to Post Malone have shown love recently. What’s your reaction when you see things like that?
It be a lot of people that I be shocked about, like, “Oh, they know me?” I fuck with them for that, because I didn’t know how the industry was going to take to me, but they fuck with me.
I know you’re very close with Summer Walker. How would you describe your relationship with her?
Me and her met on Instagram first, and she was fucking with my music. I used to see her posting my songs all the time and she thought I was funny, too. Because people be going on my page and they’ll go, “Oh, you’re actually somebody to follow. You’re entertaining and shit.” So she started following me. Then she invited me to her slumber party that she had with all her friends and stuff. And then we just kept hanging out after then. Then we did a song later down the line. Now if one of our kids have a birthday party, we’d be like, okay, come to the party or shit like that. Now we’re cool.
You just dropped “Female Gucci Mane.” Tell me about that title. What makes you the female Gucci Mane?
I mean, I ain’t even the one that said it. Everybody always be telling me I remind them of Gucci Mane. I think it’s the whole persona, because of my confidence and the hood shit. And I’m a girl rapping it, so they’re like, “She’s the female version.” When I heard the beat, I was just like, “Female Gucci Mane, big ass diamond chain.”
What about Gucci do you look up to?
I just fuck with Gucci. Back in the day, he used to wear the big old chains. He was just extra. He used to have the big watch, the crazy cars with the big rims, and stuff like that. I’m extra like that, too. I love all that kind of shit.
I saw you were all over the blogs recently for posting on Instagram, “I want to be NBA YoungBoy’s next baby mama.”
Yeah, oh my God. They be taking me real serious on there. I did not know that somebody was going to take that off my page and post it. I just be talking shit. So I see now I got to watch what I say, because they just take stuff and run with it. But I was for real on some joking stuff like, “Damn he be getting anybody pregnant. I might as well get a baby by his ass.” His 12th baby. And I’m like, “I’m next. I’m next in line.” And I put that on there and they took it and ran with it. [Laughs.]
You keep getting suspended from Instagram. Do you know why?
My team said I’m too ratchet for Instagram. And people be hating, too. People can report your page and get it taken down, just on some hating ass lame shit. That’s what they be on, reporting my shit for no reason.
When you’re not on social media, what do you do on the internet? What do you look up?
I be looking up life paths. Do you know what life paths are? It’s like astrology, where they take your birthday, add the numbers up, and they tell what kind of person you is. It tells your personality all the way through. I feel like the way our birthdays are set up, it do give you your spark. Something about you. It’s interesting. So I be looking up shit like that. Aliens. UFO sightings. Haunted houses.
Do you believe in aliens?
Yes. I believe in all kind of shit. Mermaids, Bigfoots, I look up everything on YouTube. And I always find some shit, so I’m like, “Ah, this shit real!”
You just mentioned ghosts. Have you had any ghost sightings?
Yes. Oh my God. I could tell you two stories. Our house was haunted. We had a big old speaker in the house and you had to press a button on the speaker and turn the knob up to turn it on. My mom was just chilling, and out of nowhere, the speaker turned on by itself and it went all the way up, just playing music. She was scared.
One time I was on punishment and everybody was in the living room playing the Michael Jackson Wii game where you do the dances and stuff. My back was turned towards the wall and something smacked my ass. At first, I was thinking my sisters and them were playing. But I turned around so fast, looking at the door, like, “Who the fuck just came in here and hit me?” But they didn’t know what I had going on. The house was real haunted. My sisters and them got stories, too.
It definitely sounds like something weird was going on with that house. It sounds haunted. Did you only have those experiences in that one location?
Spirits can follow you, too. Because I’ve been in new houses and I’ve heard a noise and I’m like, “This is a new house. I know nobody died in this house. How is it haunted?” But I heard that your angel or something can follow you around and show you that they’re still around, type shit. Or your family or something. I don’t know. But yeah, I got hella stories. I love this kind of shit, but it scares me.
I remember one time in my basement it was dark down there and my sister and her friends were playing hide-and-go-seek. Bruh, they said they seen a dark shadow down there. They all came running upstairs. They was so scared. But everybody used to have stories about our house. That’s how I knew it was haunted. Even my little stepbrother would be crying, like, “The TV keep cutting on by itself.” We’d turn it off, then it’d come back on. He was so scared. He was crying tears.
Before we finish here, I have an absurd question for you: What’s the meaning of life?
What’s the meaning of life? I be sitting back, like, “Is this really life? Is this really the life that we’re living?” It is crazy. It’s fucked up sometimes. Life is just a trip. You could be up one day and then the next day you’re just in the gutters. It be fucking me up sometimes.
Definitely. How much has your world changed in the last few months?
It’s changed a lot. That’s why I said I be sitting back and saying, “Is this really life?”
What’s next for Sexxy Red?
My lip gloss line is about to drop. I’ve got some more music about to drop. Hopefully y’all see me in some TV shows. I’m trying to get on TV, the big screen, and shit like that. I’m outside this summer. And I already accomplished one of my goals: I said 2023 is my year. I kept saying that in 2022, because I was on some lazy shit. So I just kept telling my team, “Just wait for 2023, y’all. I’m going to get on my shit.” Then it came and I was just working, working, working, then “Pound Town” blew up. So it’s been working in my favor.