It’s a cloudy Friday evening in Los Angeles. Despite the dipping temperatures and unwanted breeze that blows menus across the venue, the outdoor patio of STK-Los Angeles is packed with finely dressed Angelenos in their coats. Sevyn Streeter arrives dressed for the occasion, sort of. The talented singer and songwriter takes a seat across the table decked out in a black trench coat, a white tee, denim shorts and a killer pair of multicolored thigh-high boots. She looks like she could hit the stage at any moment, if we weren’t in a worldwide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we begin chatting, it’s difficult to discern if Streeter is just an incredibly open person, if we’ve both been quarantined for too d*mn long, or if the two tequila shots she suggested we take to kick things off kicked in, but she’s an open book. The chart-topping singer jump-starts our conversation, asking me where I’m from and how I’m handling quarantine. Soon she’s teaching me how to eat oysters and, over another round, reveals whats on her Christmas list.
“I want the things that money can’t buy,” she teases. “I want more genuine-a** love.” Taking into account everything that’s happened this year, that’s a fair request.
Like most of us, she’s spent the last few months secluded in her Los Angeles home where she honed in on her music and self-reflected on her life. The singer has widely discussed her bouts with depression before and while she’s learned how to cope and maintain a healthy lifestyle, I can only imagine how times like these have taken a toll on her mental health. In the midst of a global pandemic, civil unrest, a grueling election, pressure from fans who expected her album Drunken Wordz, Sober Thoughtz in October and the loss of two family members, Streeter has more than enough emotional weight to trigger a meltdown.
“It’s just crazy,” she admits. But Streeter is resilient and looking toward God and herself for balance and guidance through these tough times. She’s ecstatic about returning to the south to spend some time with her family, as the holiday season is an extra special time of year in her household.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
“It’s just country, fun, and loud. Really loud,” Streeter says, before explaining how she grew up with both sets of grandparents living within a block of each other. One of her fondest memories is walking from house to house and getting plates of food. Her southern holiday wouldn’t be complete without also playing Foursquare with her relatives while the smells of her grandmother’s sweet potato pies and her grandfather’s deep-fried turkey filled the air.
When it comes to Christmas specifically, Streeter’s family throws a themed celebration. One year was sports-themed and each family wore a jersey from their fave team. Streeter isn’t sure what they’ll do this year. I suggest Disney movies. She likes it.
This year’s festivities may not be as magical as previous ones, though. Streeter’s uncle, who was born on Christmas Eve, passed away last year and her family is still reeling from the loss. She hopes they can find a way to honor him while keeping things merry and bright.
“It’s going to be really hard. It was really hard last year,” she shares. “It has been a crazy year. Crazy, but I am looking forward to Christmas. I really am looking forward to Christmas. We all need a little Christmas. Right? We need some Christmas right now.”
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HER NATURAL SELF
In warmer places like Los Angeles, you usually only see slightly cooler temps and scattered rain showers during the holiday season. Just our luck, halfway through our meal, it felt like Christmas arrived early, with drizzle in full effect.
“They lucky I got my wet ‘n wavy in. We got our protective styles,” Streeter laughs while motioning to my goddess twists. “We good!”
Like many Black women and young girls, Streeter is on a hair journey. The Florida native was introduced to perms at an early age. She grew up in the sweltering down south heat and thick humidity. It wasn’t until she moved to California at 15 that she learned about the natural curl pattern she describes as both “spectacular” and “f*cking fire.”
“I asked my group member at the time if she’d ever had a perm and she said ‘What’s a perm?’” The weather out here is so different, you don’t need a perm,” she recalls. “So it was the first time, and at the age of 15, that I got to see that the way that our hair grows out of our head — it is really f*cking pretty and spectacular. You know what I mean? It’s really f*cking fire.”
Her adoration for her natural hair led to her ditching perms. “My hair grew so f*cking long, like, long. And then, of course, you know what happens sometimes when us Black girls, our hair gets to a certain length, we start playing in it and straightening it all the time. And then I f*cked around and added Keratin to it,” she explains.
A keratin treatment, also known as the Brazilian blowout, is intended to make hair straighter, glossier, and less frizzy, but it requires an excessive amount of heat — and in some older treatments formaldehyde — to do so. This can be very damaging, especially for naturals. In Streeter’s case, it was brutal. “All of my hair came out,” she details. But not all was lost. She began her natural hair care journey and wound up falling in love with the new form of self-care.
“I’m enjoying this space, this type of thing… anytime you’re in your natural state and you feel good about that. I know for me, this has been a good space for me and it’s shown.”
“I have to like, be patient and I’m still being patient,” she says of the process, before reflecting on how society has made it that much more difficult for Black women to care for ourselves. “A lot of ways the world is not like, you know, fair… the world is not the most cooperative when it comes to helping us with our hair care and makeup. Thank God Rihanna just came up with 50 million shades which sparked a trend in the industry. So now people are starting to be more comfortable, talking a little bit, but growing up we didn’t have that. I couldn’t go find extensions that are the same texture as my actual curl pattern.”
When it comes to her current hair care regimen, Streeter “swears by” Black-owned haircare brand Mielle Organics.
“All my life I’ve been putting together different concoctions trying to figure out what to put on my hair so that I could wear my hair in its natural state and actually have something that understands it. So now we have all these different things. We have extensions that look like [our hair], we have products that work for our girls with 3c, 4c…whatever cc,” she jokes.
When it comes to her skin, Streeter is loving her deep cocoa hue as much as her hair. She’s openly talked about colorism in the industry, having experienced it in the industry as a teenage star. Now, in her 30’s, she thinks back, saying, “Girl, I wish a ni**a would. That’s how I really feel about colorism.”
“When I was younger, I was still learning, I was new, a little more fragile… Girl, this 30-something-year-old version of me. I wish, I wish, I wish a Karen would. But there’s no time. Like, there’s no time. Black people are too bomb. Like we’re so bomb. There’s nothing that a Black person can’t do.”
MAKING HONEST MUSIC
“You got to allow yourself to quit,” she insists in between puffs of an orange THC pen that she keeps telling me is burning the back of her throat. She normally smokes pre-rolls. “This pen is weird. It’s really weird” she remarks. “But I’m still gonna hit it.”
Streeter’s freedom as an independent artist doesn’t come without its own cost. There’s a specific level of discipline one has to be able to exert to create successfully on their own accord. In Streeter’s case, this actually includes allowing herself “to quit for an hour or two.”
“I’ll watch a movie one hour or three if I feel like it and then by the time I get back to it I’ve had time to actually figure out whatever’s the issue. So I’m learning how I work, like a muscle.”
Streeter’s fans were hoping to receive her anticipated album Drunken Wordz, Sober Thoughtz in October 2020 and others hoped later this year, but that remains to be seen. Streeter admits the stress and pain from the Black Lives Matter movement led to her decision to delay the album release.
“It just broke my heart. It just doesn’t feel right. It just don’t feel right. Like I couldn’t, I couldn’t put [it out there] it’s just too much going on this year… I just don’t feel comfortable releasing it. This is real sh*t people got goin’ on in their life.”
However long the wait will be for #DWST, Streeter promises it’ll be worth it. The album contains features from A$AP Ferg, Lucky Day, and Jeremih. In the meantime, fans can listen to Streeter’s feature on YelloPain’s “My Vote Will Count,” an anthem aimed at educating Black youth on their local judicial branches in hopes of changing a system that treats Black people unjustly.
Streeter’s honest and balanced approach towards her lifestyle is taking effect in her music career too. She’s now an independent artist and loving her newfound autonomy over her craft and image.
“I wake up every day and paint my day how I want to paint my day. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Cover Story: Sade A. Spence
Talent: Sevyn Streeter @sevyn
Photographer: Easton Schirra @eastonschirra
Stylist: Deonte Nash @heyimdeo
MUA: Dusty Starks @dustystarks
Hair: Miles Jeffries @milesjeffrieshair
Videographer: Jahmel Holden @thejahexp
Logistics Coordinator: Naydea Davis @yepnaydea.nddm
Production: Jordan Benston @jbthegawd @oraclemediallc
Location : Romaine Studio @romainestudio
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