The first big song of the summer? It might be “Strawberries & Creamin’,” from rapper and budding fashion icon Yung Gravy. Released today (May 3), the song and accompanying music video capture Yung Gravy’s signature flow and style while introducing the world to the new entry in the Dr Pepper family. It’s an earworm – a bop – and that’s what Gravy was going for. “When we first had it pitched to us and the idea, I talked to [Diamond Pistols], who helped produce a song with me,” Yung Gravy tells HollywoodLife. “And I said, ‘Yo, if we’re going to do this, we got to make something sick.'”
Even though the song is under two minutes and is about Dr Pepper’s latest soda flavor, it’s clearly a Gravy track, which he sought to make. The “Betty” rapper tells HL that no matter what he does, he always “wants to make sure it’s awesome. And I’ve heard a lot of half-assed songs for jingles, and I was like, ‘we can’t. We’re going to make this great.’ So, I’m happy with how it turned out.”
It helped that Dr Pepper was on board with letting Gravy be himself. “They were really open to our ideas and letting some rap terminology in there and letting us keep it very,” he adds. The partnership also extends to the exclusive merchandise package released through the NTWRK app. As a nod to the soft drink’s 23 unique flavors, only 23 bundles will be available for consumers to have the opportunity to win and purchase for $1.23. The bundles feature a gravy boat (naturally), a silk-collard shirt that Gravy wears in the video, and custom vinyl-inspired drink coasters. To enter the drawing, fans must down the NTWRK app and follow this link.
The silk shirt – perfect for lounging in the upcoming summer weather – was designed by Gravy and “the guy I do a lot of my merch with, Dakota [Knight],” and the team at NTWRK. “We’ve always wanted to do a silk shirt, a bowling shirt, or whatever you want to call this. The bottom’s pretty cool too. And we had the freedom to try something cool, and the color scheme is perfect.”
Gravy was bound to have his own style lane in hip-hop. If his distinctive, charismatic baritone voice wasn’t going to set him apart, there are few 6’6″-tall redhead rappers from Minnesota on the scene. Add in his own aesthetic of vivid button-up shirts and flair for vivid prints and leisure suits, and he’s a style icon in the making.
Making style is also on Gravy’s mind. “Another thing I thought about while we were making it is, there are a lot of things I want to do with merch and fashion and stuff that doesn’t really make sense from a business standpoint,” Gravy explains. “Like selling silk shirts — it’s only certain people are going to wear this or mass-producing it is crazy. So it’s cool to try that and really put something together. And I think going forward, I’ll probably do more cut and sew stuff just because I love how it came out.”
Of course, the heart of the collab is “Strawberries & Creamin’,” the song that will last long after someone finishes a Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream (or the Zero Sugar version.) “When we were first writing it, we were aware we were going to have to change it,” Gravy tells HL. “Some of the lyrics came out initially a little bit dirtier, and then it’s an easy fix because I’ve had to do this sort of thing a lot with sample clearances and whatnot — Basically having to make things clean for the estate of somebody or for someone in order to let them clear sample I used. So I’m used to it.”
“I think it was mainly just trying to get a beat and production sound that fit sort of the vibe of a drink and a flavor,” he continues. “Making music that fits the Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream flavor because a lot of my beats are very hip hop and abrasive. We wanted something kind of smooth but catchy and summer and ended up with a song that’s sort of a combination of pop and hip hop.”
Writing a song about a beverage provided some challenges, but Gravy said that one thing he’s noticed over the years of writing, “sometimes, it’s easier to write when you have a theme or a storyline or a narrative,” he says.
“I have a few songs out there where it’s telling a story, or it’s all themed around one thing,” he continues. “And it makes it easier, at least for me, to have bounds to stick within. I’ve found other artists that agree with that. So in a way, once we found the sound of it and got some basic lyrics down, it actually came together pretty smoothly. It also helps that I’ve written a lot of my normal songs have food and drink references throughout them. So it was a real good match, I think.”
Gravy’s talents are on display with “Strawberries & Creamin’,” delivering lyrics that play upon the brand’s signature recipe (“Count my flavors, do it live / 23 to 25”) and the two new ingredients. The track has swagger and comedy, never taking itself too seriously while delivering a fun experience from start to finish. “They just tryna live the dream / I’m just tryina get the cream,” he raps.
Another that Gravy has learned as a writer is that sometimes, smooth and straightforward is the way to go. “The thing I’ve gotten way better at is,” he says, pausing, “when something’s too complex for the average listener to sort of digest if they’re listening quickly — because I listen to a lot of artists like MF Doom and rappers who have a listener base who are really analytical in getting into all the [bars]; more stuff in there and try to make the lyrics really complicated.”
“Then, I realized that people just weren’t even getting it. Or I would reference some obscure song or something where a few people get it, and they think it’s really cool, but overall I’m wasting time trying to make this complicated when it doesn’t have to be,” he adds. “I have put lyrics in songs that I thought everyone was going to freak out, and then one out of a hundred people noticed what I even meant by it. So I’m very good at making those sort of similes or whatever it is, double entendres very more clear and obvious and not trying to get too detailed with it.”
At the moment, Gravy is keeping it smooth, keeping it simple. He’s leaving the complexities and details to others. Which leads to the Nardwuar question. In a December 2022 interview with PAPER, Gravy said he had never met the legendary interviewer. Will 2023 be the year that this changes? “I’d love to,” he says. Gravy often performs in Vancouver, Nardwaur’s hometown, with Canada’s Baby No Money. “I know he’s met Narduwar,” says Gravy, “maybe done something brief.”
“But I’ve been in touch with him and just briefly,” says Gravy, “we haven’t gotten a full interview planned yet, but I want to make it happen. I should be up there this summer shooting some music video stuff. So hopefully we’ll see. Because I know there’s definitely some lore to be able to figure out about me that I see fans finding over the years. It’d be cool to see what he’d pull out. So hopefully, someday in the next year or two, it’ll happen.”
In the meantime, Gravy will keep on strawberry dreamin’.