A show hosted by Saweetie and a pack of sex-positive puppets sounds like a strange proposition but oddly enough, it works. That’s the premise of Sex: Unzipped, a new hour-long Netflix comedy special that plays like an adult sex education course mashed up with raunchier sketch comedy than you’ll ever see on SNL, all in the mode of the least kid-friendly episode of Sesame Street ever.
It helps that the human host is game for the silliness, shamelessly flirting with the puppets and vice versa. For all of the complaints about Saweetie’s live performances, the Bay Area-bred star has a lot of charisma. While not as boisterous and playful as rap contemporaries Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, Saweetie still has a laid-back, confident charm that makes her the perfect on-camera personality for any number of situations. From hosting her own Icy University YouTube series, to coolly cruising through the full taste bud punishing course of wings on Hot Ones, Saweetie’s easygoing, round-the-way bearing almost demands that she skips the rap portion of her career trajectory and goes straight to hosting her own show.
Which of these treats is on your list of tricks to try out this weekend 👀
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) October 29, 2021
Saweetie’s media takeover strategy isn’t new to hip-hop but the way she’s going about it sort of is. Plenty of rappers have made the jump from purely making music to acting, hosting, and any number of other media gigs (the new one seems to be podcasting, with everyone from Joe Budden to Nicki Minaj contracting with Apple and Spotify for their own shows). But usually, the artist in question must be established; Will Smith had already won his first Grammy by the time he jumped into television with The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, Eve had a number of supporting roles in movies after delivering multiple platinum albums, then got her own sitcom, and both versions of Queen Latifah’s talk show came after two albums and an ensemble role on Living Single.
More recently, Saweetie peers like Cardi B reversed the formula, utilizing a role on the popular Love & Hip-Hop franchise to develop a huge social media following, then translating that into rap superstardom. After becoming the first female rapper since Lauryn Hill to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200, it was only natural that Cardi B would go on to host her own show on Facebook, Cardi B Tries…, which built on her established fame and naturally outgoing personality. Likewise with her role on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow. Cardi’s move into television (or what passes for television when everything we watch is on a computer, phone, or tablet screen) launched from the springboard of her existing catalog of hits and near-ubiquity in the wake of her breakout hit “Bodak Yellow.”
Saweetie is hilarious I’m sorry where’s her Netflix show?
— HOOD VOGUE is tired of poverty (@keyon) August 10, 2021
Saweetie, on the other hand, has yet to even release a full-length project. So far, she’s only dropped a trio of EPs, of which only Icy even registered on the Billboard 200. She’s had a string of virally successful singles, including her original hit “Icy Grl,” “My Type,” and “Tap In,” but only three have reached the Top 40, with “Best Friend” charting the highest — arguably due in large part to her co-star on the song, Doja Cat. It’s probably fair to say that Saweetie is not the pop culture dominating juggernaut that Cardi is. Even Doja Cat, fresh off her first award show hosting gig at the 2021 MTV VMAs has a No. 1 hit record in “Say So” and multiple viral trends to her name.
Yet Saweetie has still managed to cultivate the air of a much more successful artist by sheer will. At this point, I think Forbes might be the only major magazine she hasn’t done a feature with. She’s been on every internet interview show (twice, in some cases), she’s got a Sprite sponsorship, she had a guest-starring role on Freeform’s Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish, and who could forget the infamous McDonald’s partnership — which seemed based almost entirely on a handful of viral moments of people teasing her for her off-the-wall food combinations (ranch on spaghetti!?!?). Nearly all of the media Saweetie has done has been to promote her upcoming debut album Pretty Bitch Music, yet she’s pushed the album back multiple times, once as a result of the ridicule she received for a few lackluster performances.
— Female Rap Room (@girlsinrap) October 26, 2021
At this point, Saweetie is just as well-known for just being Saweetie as she is for rapping. Here’s a crazy idea: She should lean into this. After releasing her album and completing the requisite tour, why doesn’t she just do a bunch of different projects with Netflix? She’s already proved that she can handle herself in front of a camera. Do another comedy special — maybe try standup! Do a Christmas movie! I’d watch a Christmas movie with Saweetie in it — and you would too. Do a travel show! Saweetie is always shouting out her Filipino heritage — take her to the islands and follow her around with a camera. Gold is guaranteed. I’d watch a Saweetie talk show, a Saweetie sitcom, a Saweetie police procedural… the possibilities are literally endless. Did you see Saweetie’s Halloween sketch where she dressed up as Catwoman and won the approval of Halle Berry? Saweetie superhero movie.
None of this is to dismiss Saweetie as an artist. She’s a way better rapper than she gets credit for (check out some of her earlier car freestyles or the time she rapped for J. Cole), she’s just had a hard time adjusting her rhyme-heavy style for the pop-friendly beats she’s employed in her attempts to crossover (something that also happened to J. Cole himself, lest we all forget). Rumor has it, she has some pretty brassy musical swings on the upcoming album, which could finally endear her to a skeptical public if they don’t turn people off entirely. The hip-hop public is notoriously fickle — why keep trying to please them when there are so many on-screen opportunities that make use of Saweetie’s best weapons? She’s got the chops, and against the odds, she’s got the resume. All she needs is the official Saweetie show, which even her haters would love to watch.
Saweetie is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.