“How can I lose if I’m already chose, like…”
With those nine words, Ice Spice all but took over the internet when her latest single, “Bikini Bottom,” came out last fall. It wasn’t the first time: Born Isis Gaston, the 23-year-old Bronx native has found a thriving mainstream audience over the last two years, garnering more than 3 million followers on Instagram, a number-one video slot on YouTube, and a campaign for Ivy Park x Adidas since her low-key debut. Yet what may seem like an overnight success story is far from Ice Spice’s reality.
As a student at SUNY, Ice Spice wasn’t short on talented peers. Many of her friends were creative hopefuls in their own right, spanning the worlds of painting, writing, and producing—yet few took her seriously as a rapper. (Never mind the fact that she had been penning lyrics since she was six.) It wasn’t until one student producer, who goes by the stage name RiotUSA, bought into Ice Spice’s vision that she released her first song, “Bully Freestyle,” in 2021. The two have been inseparable since. “We ended up clicking, and now having so much success with ‘Munch,’ I think that just makes us closer,” says Ice Spice, referring to her TikTok-viral hit from last summer. (She now refers to her fanbase as the “Munchkins,” a nickname selected via Twitter poll.)
Now, with the recent release of Like..?, her surprise, six-song EP, Ice Spice has little to prove in the talent department. “I definitely have a natural hustle and a drive to want to be successful, and be able to take care of myself and depend on myself,” she says. On Like..?, she offers a fiery mix of her characteristic even-toned style and the kinds of incredible one-liners that have made her an online phenomenon. “I did work really hard to get to where I am now, and I still am working really hard, every day,” Ice Spice adds.
Over the last 30 years, female rappers have worked hard to champion their own sound and communities in a still male-dominated space. With the success of each one has come a chance for even more to follow—the likes of Lola Brooke, Glorilla, and Ice Spice now among them. “I’d rather there be more girls [in the industry],” she says. No two rappers are the same, and each has beaten the odds in their own way. “I feel like there’s so much more men rapping than girls, and I think it should be balanced.”
But don’t misunderstand: Ice Spice can hold her own. If internet trolling tends to come with the territory for young artists, she’s turned her banter into something of an art. When one fan reposted a picture of Ice Spice in a cropped fur jacket, tight jeans, and layered B.B. Simon belts, suggesting that she needed a stylist, Ice Spice’s reply—a simple “u wouldn’t get it”—racked up more than 300,000 likes on Twitter. “I feel like I’m sarcastic a lot, and I think [people] should know that,” she says with a laugh. “I can’t even control it.” That’s one thing to know about Ice Spice: She is always, always, in on the joke.