She doesn’t wear neon-striped mink furs. She’s not donning the latest $2 million dollar pink diamond pendant. And you won’t ever see her squatting in a designer bikini, wearing Louboutin pumps. She’s never been a reality TV star nor a stripper, and has not once in her entire life referred to herself as a “ho”. She doesn’t drink Cristal or Hennessy, or even any booze at all. But none of this is what's really shocking about Summer Dazed.
What startles most is why this redheaded rapper, who is, in her own words, “so white that [she] could be a ghost”, turned to hip-hop and vowed to help end racism, prejudice, sexism and ignorance. She’s Cali, but not from a progressive area like San Francisco or Los Angeles. She grew up in Oakdale, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World” and the small Central Valley town as oaky as it sounds. Summer Dazed refused to become part of that culture. Instead, she and her partner in music and life, The Gateway Affect, became cannabis breeders and founded Love Genetics. But the two have since taken a break from breeding to move towards the elusive rap industry because they have “something to say”.
“We temporarily paused the production of cannabis genetics to focus on our music, but we do have strains such as Exes & Hos OG, Silverwhite, and one I bred, Jinx, that coincide with the album,” Summer explained. Now, songs like “Bong Bounce” and “We’re High Society”, and the constant references to cannabis throughout their debut album, Cali Grrrl, begin to make sense.
Even with the cannabis connection, Summer Dazed, aka Summer D, remains an enigma. She is the underground rapper that nobody expected but that everybody has been waiting for. She doesn’t sound like, look like, or dress like any of the other female rappers who audiences continue to have such love/hate relationships with. Summer’s flow is fast, intense, witty, socially aware, and incisive with a sharp edge that has the potential to cut deeply.
In “Never Comin’ Down”, Summer raps, “guess what, you won’t even see me twerk for the muthafuckin’ jerks that’s trashy/if you wanna be a fuckin’ stripper, drop your zipper, don’t try to spit like me/Cuz I’m gonna be famous for my rap abilities, not my ass and titties”. But, Summer’s not throwing shade at anyone in particular. These lines were written well before “Bodak Yellow” hit the charts and before Summer had ever heard the name Cardi B.
“I was just annoyed with the expectation that every woman in the hip-hop industry has to be a boy-toy, that twerking is part of the job. ‘Never Comin’ Down’ is a social comment on women, that’s all. Yeah, it may cause some controversy, but it needs to be said,” Summer stated, addressing her clearly feminist slant that is found throughout the Cali Grrrl album. “But I’m not going to tell anyone else who they should or shouldn’t be. Just as I expect that no one will do that to me.”
Defying the stereotype, Summer Dazed writes all of her own verses, and The Gateway Affect creates and produces the beats and hooks. The Cali Grrrl album was written, recorded, produced, and mastered for only $212 by Summer and The Affect in their basement. Both artists hold English degrees from a California State University and began writing poetry when they were very young. Having been surrounded by the MTV hip-hop culture since they were children, the two are unaffected by the whispers on social media that the color of one’s skin should determine what kind of music they create.
Much to his parents’ chagrin, The Gateway Affect, the stage name of Jason Porter Collinsworth, started listening to rap when he was a child. The songs for Cali Grrrl that he created using Logic Pro X and Garageband are inspired by G-Funk masters Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Xzibit. They also contain elements of funk, EDM, and alternative with influences from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Radiohead, DJ Snake, and The Chemical Brothers. Summer Dazed, whose real name is Lara Marie Collinsworth, credits Ice Cube, Eminem, Flo Rida, and The Black Eyed Peas as being her main lyrical and musical influences. Summer channels West Coast rap into her own unique style with the fun-in-the-sun twist of Cali artists like No Doubt, Steve Aoki, and Sublime.
Although Summer Dazed & The Gateway Affect sound upbeat, the so-called “gansta rap” undertones still exist in their music. Their first single, “Exes & Hos”, has a tic-tac-toe board on the cover with the word “hos” crossed out in blood red. Summer raps, “nobody gets to fuck with me or my G expectin’ to come out unscathed/ from a blaze of rage stronger than an F-5 on a sunny day in OK,” clearly reflecting the fact that she delved into rap as a response to getting out of an abusive relationship with her ex and disavowing her parents and entire family. Hip-hop music became an avenue for her to stand up for herself and heal from the injustices that she has personally experienced.
Summer Dazed could be the one. The one to follow in Eminem’s footsteps. The one to turn the world’s eye away from female rappers like Cardi B, Bhad Bhabie, Iggy Azalea, and Nicki Minaj. Because Summer is not trying to be someone else. She is not learning to speak in a blaccent nor is she rushing off to a plastic surgeon to turn herself into the cultural perception of what a female rapper should be. Summer knows that fans don’t want a stereotype. They want authenticity, songs with kick-ass beats, and an artist with tight rhymes and a real ability to rap who is strong enough to "stand and fight for what is right/Not what is considered to be appropriate for a white”.