Dallas will always be home for 19-year-old Cuban Doll. Accustomed to the balmy weather her city has to offer, on a cold and rainy Wednesday afternoon in downtown New York City, the buzzing MC finds herself outside of her element, trying to cope with the wintry temperatures. Despite the gloomy weather, upon her entrance, Doll’s vivacious demeanor quickly illuminates the Billboard offices. The reason the young star is brimming with joy stems from her early success on the rap front.
After deciding to pursue music full-time last year, Cuban Doll has quashed any ounce of doubt with her single “Bankrupt.” The ominous production finds Doll mercilessly skewering her foes with lines like, “You ain’t getting money, girl, you need a plan/ You a broke bitch, always holding out your hand.” Citing Chief Keef as an inspiration, Doll thrives over bombastic trap beats, as displayed on her recently released mixtape, Aaliyah Keef.
Throughout the 14-track project, the buoyant artist flawlessly flexes her versatility. When aligned with West Coast stars Mozzy and OMB Peezy on “Tonight,” Cuban soars over the chilling soundscape. Then, when she joins forces with SOB X RBE on “I Heard,” she thrashes her competition over the trap-tinged track. Billboard spoke to Cuban Doll about her alter-ego, Cuban Savage, her Aaliyah Keef mixtape, the Dallas rap scene, her love for Kodak Black, and dealing with Instagram haters. Check it out below:
Do you go by Cuban Doll or Cuban Savage?
It’s either or, you feel me? You know how you have like three or four Dolls or whatever [in rap right now]? So, to separate myself, I like to put Cuban Savage.
I thought Savage was your alter-ego or the person you transform to when you’re ready to turn up.
Yeah, that’s kind of like my swag. You know how people have the good side and the bad side? Cuban Doll is like the sweet little doll and then Cuban Savage is on some gang shit.
You have a mixtape called Aaliyah Keef, so with that being said, if you can pick one Aaliyah song and one Chief Keef song that best describes you, which two would you pick?
Aaliyah, “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.” I don’t know if the song describes me to a T, but I love that song, or “One in a Million.” For Chief Keef, I’d say “Finito.”
What was the first Chief Keef song or album that you fell in love with?
It was Finally Rich. It got my attention because when he first got out, this dude was crying like, “Ah! Chief Keef is back, n—a.” That’s what got my attention. Most people were going crazy, he was like, “My n—a Sosa back. I told y’all.” That’s what made me listen to it. Then, he made a song when he first came out of jail. That’s what drew my attention to it. Everyone was going crazy over it.
How did you first jump into the rap scene, especially with you being from Dallas?
I was always around people who rapped in the studio, but I just didn’t rap.
You were just chilling?
Yeah, I’d just be chilling. Everybody would try to get me to rap and I was hella shy. I just grew over that and went to the studio and started recording.
Can you pinpoint that actual moment you broke out of that shyness and decided to pursue music?
It was like last year in October. I had actually wrote a song in my phone and I was like, “I’m gonna record it.” I was hella shy.
Talk about the rap scene in Dallas.
We have a rap scene, but it’s like very underground. It’s like people from my ‘hood that we know, they’re not mainstream. So there’s not a big rap scene out there, but we got Yella Beezy and TrapBoy Freddy. Yella Beezy is coming up; he’s like my favorite right now. I f— with him. He’s like a Dallas Lil Baby kinda, but he has a country swag to it. So that’s why the city really f—s with him. He really keeps it country, you feel me? He’s like gangsta country rap.
Even with you being from Dallas, you also have a strong love for the West Coast after grabbing Mozzy and OMB Peezy for your Aaliyah Keef tape. What is it about the West Coast that you love so much?
I feel like with those type of beats, I can just rap better to them because I like [West Coast] music a lot too. So I listen to more West Coast music rather than Dallas music. I feel like just by listening to them, it’s like these beats are hard and I just like that sound. Like, I try all kinds of shit. Like, I’m always open to try out other beats, but those beats always go for me automatically.
You have a line on “Bankrupt” rapping about guys still living at home with their moms. Why is that a no-no for you?
It’s a no-no, but it applies for certain people. Let’s say if your mom stays with you in a big house, but you pay all the bills, that’s OK. That’s like you’re taking care of your mom, you feel me? That’s fine. But then, for dudes who aren’t doing that, it’s like, you ain’t hop out your ass ’cause you’re still living with your mama. That’s like mooching off your mom. So 18 and up.
With your new level of fame, how have you managed to deal with men, especially on social media, because you made a song about dealing with troubled guys titled “Flaw Shit.”
How I manage that? There’s like a time to have fun and a time to work. It’s like 90 percent work and 10 percent play. So it isn’t a big problem.
What about haters on social media, because I’m sure they’ve been flocking since “Bankrupt” started doing numbers.
That’s everywhere, but it’s normal because I get hate in real life and not just social media. That’s really normal. Nothing can destroy me, but I do have to watch what I post and be super careful about tweeting, posting pictures and think twice about it.
Do you have a moment when you blacked out on social media because of a comment or message that pissed you off?
Well, one time, I was in the studio and Punch — he’s one of my managers — I was commenting back to somebody, talking hella shit, and he was like, “F— that.” I was like, “Nah, f— them.” But I deleted it later on. If I feel like I need to get my point across to someone who’s absolutely clueless, or somebody that comments reckless shit and other people will add to their comments, I’ll have to come back and say something because some things have to be corrected.
What made you decide to pay homage to Kodak Black and rap over his track “Transportin'”?
I’m a fan of his music. I feel like I discovered him.
Why is that?
I remember when he used to be at like 50,000 views and I used to watch all shit.
You’re taking about during the “Ambition” Kodak days.
I remember when Drake first discovered him, I was like, “Look at Drake! He’s about to be up there.” I like that record, though.
You’re going to be performing at Rolling Loud, which happens to fall on your birthday this year. What can fans expect from your performance, especially for those who haven’t seen you live before?
Expect me to be looking amazing because it’s going to be my birthday. That’s all I’m worried about. [Laughs]
You’re just worried about stunting.
Oh yeah. It’s going to be my time to flex. Miami is also one of my favorite cities. I love Miami. The vibes, the scenery, just everything. I feel like Miami loves me. The clubs, the females, just everything. When I go out there, I get mad love.