A few years ago, Oakland-bred rapper Kreayshawn — who was born Natassia Zolot — was an at-risk kid, living a sketchy existence of “trapping” — dealing drugs on the fly from the trunk of her car — and gradually sinking into even shadier pursuits.
Left to her own devices at 15 when her musician mother Elka (of Bay Area garage-rockers The Trashwomen) moved to Canada, the high-school dropout was beelining straight to juvie, jail or maybe something far worse.
“I went through so many hard, crazy, random things, even in my childhood,” says the 22-year-old, “that for a second I thought ‘What is my life going to be?’ It was insane — I could’ve wound up dead.”
Today, Kreayshawn’s star is on the meteoric rise, thanks to a ridiculously addictive street-smart ditty “Gucci Gucci,” wherein she — with her White Girl Mob — slams designer-label fashionistas with barbs like “B—- you ain’t no Barbie/ I see you work at Arby’s.”
The video racked up 2 million views in two weeks, landed her a contract with Columbia Records (for whom she’s currently concocting a full-length debut), and led to coups like her New Year’s Eve headline show in The City next week.
She says she turned her life around through Job Corps.
“I really think it’s a good place to go,” Kreayshawn says of the free education/training program that helps low-income youth earn a diploma or GED, then learn career-defining work skills.
“Right before I went, I was living at (Mob partner) V. Nasty’s house, and I just didn’t really see myself doing much of anything. Then I heard of Job Corps, I went, and it helped me get my life on track. And if you graduate, they even help you get an apartment.”
Zolot lived in Job Corps’ dorms on Treasure Island, regularly rode the 108 bus and studied facility maintenance.
“So I learned how to power-wash cement, which was actually kind of scary — the water is so hot, we’d have to wear these big overall outfits,” she says. “I also know how to paint curbs and fire hydrants — it was actually some pretty interesting stuff.”
Soon, she had her own apartment, a job at IKEA, and enough money for a MacBook, on which she made her first music and videos.
Now, Kreayshawn lives in Los Angeles, drives a vintage Buick convertible, and believes she has an angel watching over her.
“Everything I went through is just something I can tell other people, so they don’t go through the same thing,” she concludes. “Like ‘girls — don’t get in a car with a guy who says he’s a photographer! It’s not that smart!’”
IF YOU GO
Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Dec. 31