Interview: Salma Slims Is Riding A Wave That’s All Her Own
It’s been a little over a year since Salma Slims visited the VIBE headquarters, but a lot has changed for us and for her. Since her last visit in 2016, VIBE has migrated to another office near Times Square. On the other hand, the change for Salma – the First Lady of Private Club Records – is even more significant.
After a period of meditation and reflection, Salma is back with a new sound, one that she says is truly her own. She’s recently released her newest track and video, “Wasted,” which blends softer, R&B vocals with rap and reggae vibes. The new wave is a tremendous departure from her previous EP, Ghetto Girl Dream, which consists of six, gritty tracks that flex Salma’s aggressive side. There’s also “Pressure,” which carries her new melodic praises of love.
The rapper is more than happy to convey her strength, especially since she’s consistently surrounded by testosterone at her label. But as she’s embarked on her journey to find her own sound, she’s realized it’s okay to have a balance. “I realized there’s a lane for me as a woman that I have to tap into to reach other girls,” she said. “That’s what I felt like I was missing. And I feel like that’s growing for me the more that I open up, tone down, and tap into my feelings.”
With her emotions on full display, Salma is ready for the next chapter. She is gearing up for a new album that is set to debut sometime in 2018, as well as a number of business ventures.
Check out what she told VIBE about her new wave.
VIBE: Your single “Wasted” sounds much different from your previous music. Can you speak about your transition to this new sound?
Salma Slims: Since I put out my last project, I took a break from making music. For almost a whole year, [I was] rebranding and getting my sound together. I started recording in my back house and creating all these different vibes, trying to find myself as an artist. Then one day I was working with my producer, and I’m like, yo, I’m always drinking wine. I’m always trying to wind down and find that creative vibe. So I came up with “Wasted” and it was perfect.
Sonically speaking, you flex your vocals and play with the ‘sing-rap’ trend. How did you arrive at that sound?
I wanted to try something different. I feel like a lot of females were coming out and doing the same thing. I wanted to go in a different lane that appealed to girls. My new music that I recorded, the vibe matches me and my fashion. As an artist, it’s all about finding your sound. And once you got that, it’s lit.
Now that you’ve found your sound, how would you characterize it?
It’s more about finding myself and tapping into real emotions. [My new] project, Left Out is going to show an emotional side. It’s still going to be arrogant like how I was in my rap music, but it shows you that it’s okay to feel like this sometimes and put it out there to the world because someone else is feeling like that, too. That’s what I was afraid to do with the rap music. It’s hard to do that with a rap song, so that’s why I emerged into this stuff.
So would you say it’s gearing towards R&B or a blend of that and rap?
I would just describe it as real swaggy and chill. I feel like I’m so fly. And there’s a lot of girls who feel like that, too. They’re like, ‘I’m a fly a** b***h. And I’m going to wear this fly a** s**t.’ You have that go-to song. I feel like my project has those go-to songs that girls get ready to before they go to the club.
Overall, how would you say that you’ve changed or grown as an artist?
I changed tremendously. The sound is totally different, but also being around these dudes in my collective, it was just forcing me to go hard. But then I realized there’s a lane for me as a woman that I have to tap into to reach other girls. That’s what I felt like I was missing, and I feel like that’s growing for me the more that I open up, tone down, and tap into my feelings.
Tapping into your emotions, did you feel like you had to separate yourself from your collective?
I did. I went through this whole stage where I was super depressed. I see my bros winning, What do I need to do different? Then eventually I was like, I’m going to take a backseat for a minute, work on me as a person, spiritually, and figure out what I want to do. Then it started coming to me. Doors started opening, and my sounds started growing.
Spirituality. Would you say that you are a spiritual person?
Yes. I’m super tapped into that. And once you tap into that side and pray to God and let him take you into that direction, the sky’s the limit. You have to find that before you can find yourself. Living in LA, there was a lot going on. I had to focus on me and not what everyone else wanted me to do.
LA seems like it could be draining at times.
Yes! It does that to you.
But you originally grew up a Muslim. How has that particularly played a role in your life and career?
It grounded me to always do the right thing. But besides that, I feel like my religion doesn’t have much to do with my music or anything like that. I see interviews where they’ll put ‘muslim rapper.’ And I’m like, whatever.
Yeah, with the current political climate, people are always looking for that angle. But you’re saying it doesn’t really impact you?
No. I’m really close to my family, and they support me a lot. But it used to be really hard for them to understand the music side of stuff. Music is not something that is praised on. It’s what you would call haram. When something is haram, it’s not in God’s favor. They didn’t know if I should be doing this until they saw success come from it.
When we interviewed you last year, you were working two jobs, going to school, and working on music. What’s your status now?
Music is my job now. I breathe this every time I wake up. Not having the jobs really helps me focus on myself. I make money in different areas from brands, modeling, and Instagram. It’s a blessing to have that platform and focus on the music.
Your last project was called Ghetto Girl Dream. I feel like that’s a great way to describe that early chapter in your career. What would you name the next chapter?
I’m still trying to figure it out. I was going to name my next Left Out because I feel like I worked so hard and I’m left out of the game. It’s not only left out in music, but I’m also far away from my family. I’m left out of their lives.
In terms of being left out of the game. Why do you feel that way?
For a long time, I felt like I was in the shadows. Things are tunnel vision when you got one person that everyone is focused on. So it’s time for me to create a whole wave for myself instead of riding that wave.
So what’s next?
This fashion! This sauce. More pictures. I love taking pictures and putting outfits together. I’m supposed to be going to London. I’m trying to go platinum, sell some records, and these shows. I want to be everywhere. I’m not doing this just because; I’m doing this to reach the people and be the best.