Why You Should Be Listening To Rising R&B, Jazz & Hip-Hop Artist Butterscotch

Photo: Mary John Frank.
Up-and-comer Butterscotch has mastered a tough recipe in today's melting pot of music: She effortlessly blends hip-hop and R&B with a dash of jazz and a pinch of rock. Though she ebbs and flows between rap and song, the artist seamlessly delivers both with a husky voice and kinetic, cool confidence. But she wasn't always this self-assured.

"I grew up in a pretty small, predominately white town," she tells Refinery29 of Davis, California. "I suffered through a lot of depression and struggled in my teens. I just had a lot of dark days. Music and art were things that saved my life."

Her first big break came in 2005, when she became the first female beatboxing champion on the West Coast. (She picked up the hobby after hearing a friend perform in high school). Two years later, her signature singing-rapping-beatboxing combo earned her the second runner up spot on America's Got Talent.

But despite those achievements, it's taken the now 30-year-old nearly a decade of hustling to find her voice — and to be brave enough to share it with the world on her own terms. "Being gay and biracial in the music industry, and being a woman, it’s a little scary at times," she says. "I’ve had people tell me: Don’t cut your hair. Get a fake boyfriend. Don’t come out, because then you’re going to lose your male audience."

Fitting, then, that her first music video be titled "Accept Who I Am," a raw, honest anthem that begins, "I didn't grow up white, didn't grow up black, didn't grow up in a healthy habitat." Butterscotch hopes viewers will share the gorgeous visual — which was directed by filmmaker Mary John Frank at Joshua Tree National Park — with the hashtag #AcceptWhoIAm. "I always tell kids who are struggling with themselves that this is only a temporary situation," she says. "What matters the most is how you feel about yourself. You may not be accepted by your own family, but you can find friends who will accept you, and you can choose to accept yourself."

I ask, it ever scary for Butterscotch to be exactly who she is — and embrace it? "If I’m telling the kids they should be who they are," she says, "I don’t want to not follow that as well."

Preach. Check out the debut for Butterscotch's video for "Accept Who I Am" below, exclusively on Refinery29.