Meet Jerrika Karlae, The Woman Holding Down Her Own Business And Young Thug At The Same Time
When you think about the most talked about people in the world, a few names may come to mind; Kylie Jenner, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Kanye West. Over the past year, one charismatic rapper has made his way onto that list, capturing both the hearts of those who struggle to understand him and those who don’t care to understand him. Young Thug continues to fascinate and confuse us with his stylistic choices, whether it be sporting a tulle skirt on the cover of Dazed, or practicing his unique form of scat-like rapping. The only thing more captivating than Young Thug? The one woman who captivated him.
With an Atlanta attitude, angelic face, and a heart made of rose gold, it’s easy to understand why Jerrika Karlae would be so enchanting to the rapper. After the 22-year-old captured Thug’s attention during a session in Gucci Mane’s studio in Atlanta, it became only a matter of time before he made it official with a marriage proposal. It’s been an undeniably big year for the eclectic rapper, but Jerrika may be one of Thug’s biggest moments yet. Between planning a wedding, re-launching her swimwear line, and preparing for her cosmetic brand debut, Jerrika took a moment to talk about her independent business endeavors, the notoriety of a rapper’s lifestyle and what no one will ever truly understand about her relationship with a Thug.
What made you want to start a swimwear line?
I started out just doing my own sketches. I’m no Picasso, but I’ve always done my own sketches of designs I think are unique. Keva J, a young African-American women who started her own successful line, really inspired me—the Kardashians all rock it. I wanted to make pieces that were dope, but still affordable for everybody. You shouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to feel amazing in a swimsuit because that’s not realistic. I took my first sketch to a friend who could sew and she made my first sample. My first launch definitely wasn’t my ultimate goal as to where I want to be as a designer, but it was definitely an amazing accomplishment as my first project as an entrepreneur.
You’re starting your own cosmetics line as well, correct?
I’ve always been a glamour girl, I always did my own makeup, and that’s kind of how I gained a lot of my following. A lot of girls started emailing me asking for makeup advice and for what kind of makeup I used. I started thinking that I wanted to make something that could reach all women, that could cater to women of every color because there’s not a lot of products that do that. I just thought, “Why not start my own thing and reach everybody?” That will be launching sometime in January.
I think people don’t understand that I’m so comfortable with him being who he wants to be.
It’s probably really great though to have someone [your fiancé] who is also working on themselves and is also a business-minded person.
He totally supports my vision and I completely support him. When I first started my line, he was always offering whatever he could do to help.
Being in the position that you and your fiancé [Young Thug] are in, what’s something about your relationship that no one can really understand?
I think people don’t understand that I’m so comfortable with him being who he wants to be. People ask me all the time, “How do you deal with a guy who goes out wearing, like, an Ann Taylor blouse? Why do you support that?” When you’re around him, you know that he’s just a 100% man and he’s 100% himself, you don’t need any explanation. I think that requires me to be very comfortable with myself as well.
Well it definitely takes a person that is very comfortable with themselves to be with someone who seems to make everyone else uncomfortable.
Definitely, I think we both just know who we are and we know each other better than anyone.
Thug really has his own style and way of dressing and a lot of people have their opinions of him, but when it comes down to it the opinions that really matter are of those who know you best.
I think it honestly makes it easier to deal with all the negativity we get from people and all the things that people say about him. Like when people question his sexuality and say he’s “gay” and whatever, it really doesn’t bother me because when it comes down to it, I know who he truly is. I don’t question the person he chooses to be.
A marriage is a much bigger commitment, you can’t just up and leave, you have to really try to work through it.
Dating an artist has it’s downfalls too, what’s the one thing you could do without?
I could definitely do without the “yes-men.” Like, the people who agree with everything he wants to do just because of who he is, even if it’s negative. For example, we could be arguing and I’m telling him he’s wrong, but there could be three people sitting there telling him he’s right just because he’s Young Thug. I could also do without these immoral women that don’t want to respect when a man has a fiancé.
When you fight though, who usually wins?
[Laughs] Probably me, but only because after a certain point he just wants me to shut up. I do whine till I get what I want, but I know he really never wants to make me upset. We fight and we get so mad at each other, and we delete pictures and yell, but the next day it’s always like, “Okay babe, I’m coming home.”
We fight and we get so mad at each other, and we delete pictures and yell, but the next day it’s always like, “Okay babe, I’m coming home.”
Being really young, both of you are young, does marriage in a way scare you when you’re making the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone?
It absolutely scares me, but we’re so much deeper than just a couple. We’re like two forty-year-olds. The only thing that’s different in a marriage is when you fight or things get hard, you can’t just break up like you might in a relationship. When you’re just dating you can just say, “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” A marriage is a much bigger commitment, you can’t just get up and leave, you have to really try to work through it.
Are you excited for the wedding? What’s your dream wedding?
Yes, oh my god! We don’t have a date because we’re still settling into everything and we’re still on this crazy ride. But eventually, I would love to just fly somewhere, maybe a tropical island, with just our family and immediate friends and get married on the beach. I want everything to be snow white and lavender. And all the drinks to be super bourgeoisie and sexy.
He has a handful of songs that I know are inspired by me, but I don’t know if the whole album is necessarily about me.
He claims that his new album is entirely written for you. How does that make you feel?
He has a handful of songs that I know are inspired by me, but I don’t know if the whole album is necessarily about me. Either way, it makes me feel confident, a little sassy because I’m in the studio like, “Yeah, that’s about me.” I feel good that I have an influence on the music he puts out to the world, it definitely makes me pop my collar a little bit.
What inspires you the most about Thug?
We completely compliment each other. His heart inspires me, he has such a big big heart. That’s what a lot of people don’t know about him. So many stones have been thrown at him and he’s still such a good guy. He doesn’t care what people have to say, he’s loving no matter what. He’ll give the shirt off his back. When I see negativity on my Instagram or wherever, he’s the one who inspires me not to lash out because he’s so unaffected by it.
What do you think you do that inspires him?
I don’t give up. He tells me all the time that he has put me through a lot, being a rapper and having to deal with all the women and the lifestyle that comes with that. He tells me all the time how grateful he is that I have always believed in him no matter what and that I inspire him to be a better man. He knows I still believe in him and I still see him as husband material.
What do you think defines a power couple?
I think a power couple is just two people who influence each other to do great things, on every level. Business, personal, emotional, philanthropy, everything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a celebrity couple, as long as you’re encouraging each other to be as great as you can be.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned through being young and in the creative industry?
I’ve learned to just be kind to everybody. I see people shit on other people all the time because they don’t think they’re on the same level as them, like they’re not as successful or famous or something. Everyone you meet is important. Be mindful of the company you keep and the intimacy you share because people do come around for the wrong reasons, the industry can be fake in that way.
I don’t give up. He tells me all the time that he has put me through a lot, being a rapper and having to deal with all the women and the lifestyle that comes with that.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned through being young and in a serious relationship?
Be honest about who you are because so many people are going to have an opinion about you. If they like it, that’s great and if they don’t, oh well. If the person you’re with doesn’t like something, that’s when you can compromise and work on yourself.
What’s next for you? What’s an independent goal of yours?
I want to give back in a major way this year. I’m not positive how just yet, but it’ll for sure be involving young women. I want to give them someone they can look up to, someone that’s relatable. Someone that can encourage them in a positive way. And of course business-wise, I want to keep working on the success of my cosmetics line.
We definitely want to do more things together, for ourselves and for our fans, possibly even taking on business ventures together.
What’s next for you as a couple?
We want to be more interactive with our fans, the fan-base we have together. We definitely want to do more things together, for ourselves and for our fans, possibly even taking on business ventures together. But I think just combining our strengths, really.
Photography by Julian Burgueno
Creative Direction & Styling by Erika Flynn
Make up by Rachael Vang
Hair by Dionte D. Gray