Move over boys, there’s a new slaying Queen on the LA hip-hop scene! Her name is Amanda Rome West, and she’s here to flip the entertainment world on its head.
After moving to LA in 2016, Amanda has vivaciously worked to grow her audience making music, and working in the TV & Film industries. She just graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Business Cinematic Arts.
Oh – and did we mention that she’s Jewish? You read that right – this young, Jewish Queen uses her unique background to unapologetically take on the music and entertainment industry by storm! ARW just released her new album, ‘Ashkenasty’ (named for the Ashkenazi Jewish tribe her family hails from + the “nasty” Corona Virus) last week. We had the chance to chat with ARW, and get to know a little more about her experience being a female, Jewish rapper taking on the LA music scene with her friends and loved ones.
PS: Ashkenazi is also a term for “Badass” 😀
Getting to Know Amanda
You’re known as the “Thug Jew Bitch”. Can you tell us the origin story for this name?
I was filming a really crazy MTV show called “True Life” . They started calling me “Thug Jew Bitch” on the set, because I’m Jewish, and I guess – you can hear it in my rap, I’m pretty thug; I go pretty hard. They started calling me THAT Jew Bitch, and then it kinda evolved into THUG Jew Bitch. Then I started working on the show with 90s rap legend Paperboy, who works with NWA, Snoop, E40, and all these other big artists. HE started calling me Thug Jew Bitch, so that’s how I ended up being called that.
On my first single’s album cover, my manager at the time was totally like, “you should do the album cover with you getting a face tattoo of Thug Jew Bitch.” So I ended up doing a video that went kinda viral on Reddit of me pretending to get a face tattoo, and people were very much arguing – it was polarizing: is it real? Is it fake? Is it real?
I’m selling temporary tattoos for my new merch for my new album, Ashkenasty, dropping soon. You can make them face tattoos if you want, or regular tattoos. I’ll have hoodies, stickers, patches, all sorts of stuff. I’m really excited.
Who was the first rap artist that made you fall in love with Hip Hop?
The first rap artist that made me fall in love with hip hop was definitely Drake, because he’s also Jewish. He always inspired me, because you don’t just have to be from this one culture to be able to do rap. You can really harness everything you believe in to get more into your music. His music is all about his life and telling stories. He has really shown that any one from any background can rap. It’s all about respecting the rap culture, and respecting your culture. You don’t want to rap about anything that’s disrespectful to other cultures and communities.
I may not be able to rap about other communities, but I can rap about the Jewish community and make jokes, because I am a big and intricate part of that community. I’ve done a lot of big concerts with Jewish organizations, like BBYO and other big organizations,, where I’ve interviewed holocaust survivors and stuff like that. You have the license when it’s your own culture, but he’s [Drake] really taught me that especially if you’re from two different cultures, like our two worlds – like I’m from the East coast, but I’m living in LA, I can mix those lines, but you never want to step over the line when you’re appropriating someone’s culture. You have to make sure you’re within your own bounds, if that makes sense.
Did you come from a strict Jewish home? How does your faith and family tie in with your music?
When I was younger, my family was a lot more conservative, which is in between reformed and orthadox. As I got older, I was much more reformed. Like, we always went to temple, and celebrated the holidays. I went to Hebrew school my whole life, twice a week, four hours a time. I had my bat mitzvah when I was 13 – which is actually the photo I’m using for my next album cover.
I’m definitely trying to establish myself with who I am as a rap artist, and who I am as the personality as Amanda Rome West. Ever since I was young, I’ve always struggled with the Jewish side of me, because I don’t believe in God, but I love the Jewish culture. It’s this split image where I’m very crude, and very explicit; but I’m also pretty religious, because I’m very involved with the Jewish Faith as a culture.
Being a Jewish Woman in the Industry
Do you find that being female has made it more difficult for you to succeed in the hip-hop industry?
I definitely think so – especially being here in LA as a woman. As someone who’s had two managers in the past who were both men; both of which I had to fire, because they were mistreating and being inappropriate towards me. I think that it’s really bad that women have to feel like they have to have a male manager that tells them everything to do – whether it’s how much to weigh, or how to dress, what to talk like, or anything like that. I definitely was in a position where I was being manipulated, and being told what to do all the time. So I said, “EFF THAT! I’m not going to do that. I’m going to have my own ambition, and my own drive to make things happen for myself.”
I’ve gotten myself on huge TV shows, on Snapchat, Facebook, and major networks. I’ve booked my own shows for The Viper Room, The Mint, The Study, The State Social House, El Cid – all sorts of big venues, and it was through my own relations and through my own hustle of reaching out to people to come out to shows.
So many women are looked at just for their bodies. That’s a really big problem for me, especially while I had these male managers! They saw me more as a commodity than anything. Like, “oh, we can use her for this modeling campaign, or this event.” They just wanted sexy girls to dance, and that’s not what I do. I’m an artist. I’m also a TV and film producer, so I don’t really feel the need to do that.
It’s just really degrading that there’s a lot of men out there that think that they run the industry, and they can even ask women for sexual favors. I’ve never had that happen to me, but I know quite a few people that have said, “oh yes, Men have told me that if I want this record deal, you have to get on your knees, and suck my dick.” I think that’s ridiculous! I think that women shouldn’t have to do any of that! I think that women should have the same footing as men in the industry, and should be able to do whatever they want, and represent themselves, and everything!!
I’m really excited to be working with people who can really see what I’m doing, and empower people, and inspire people to whatever they want. My message is not, “oh, I’m trying to be rich and all that.” That’s in my music, because that’s rap culture. It’s all about the bigger picture. It’s all about showing people that you can do whatever you want.
I technically have a mental handicap and disability. I grew up having really severe ADHD, and people were always like, “take your meds! You’re retarded!” It made me feel really hurt, and that I could never be someone influential or successful, but here I am. I’m on big TV shows doing cameos, pulling up and making merch designs, dropping albums left and right. I’m just really happy to be able to inspire people who also have intellectual disabilities…People who also have other obstacles in their lives that other people have made fun of them for, you know? Taking that and harnessing it as your power, and really turning it into your superpower, and not letting anybody tell you differently.
I think a lot of people see ADHD as a weakness, but I see it as a strength; I can do so many different things and I can think outside the box. . My whole life, I’ve just felt different; ever since I was born. I’m really glad that I can prove my haters wrong by pursuing my career. I just moved to Hollywood last week with my boyfriend! I just made my dreams come true.
All it takes is hard work, and believing in yourself, and having a good message. So many of these rappers out here – they’re all about the big clout, and all about the gang stuff. Yeah, that’ll get you quick fame and money, but that’ll never get you respected. I’ve never wanted to be that type of person.
I’ve always been high energy. I was on adderall most my whole life; from when I was eight until I was 20. That really, I think, alienated a lot of people. They were like, “Oh, you’re on this other wavelength.” Thankfully, I have a lot of best friends from when I was younger, and they see me for who I am. In school, when I had to be on adderall, it put me in a different mindset. I’ve always been goal-focused. I used to run my own photography business, (West X Photo, I still run it on the side). I just really channel my energy into art, music, dance, working in the industry of entertainment – really just putting all my creativity into a place.
No matter the challenges presented in front of me are, nothing will stop me from achieving my dreams. It’s not just a coincidence that I’ve done all this stuff. I did this, because I wanted to achieve my dream of being a media mogul, and having my own media empire. Whether that’s me right now during quarantine doing YouTube videos, doing my Patron artists performances, or doing my fan cameos.
I think I can keep growing everyday, and I think right now my goal is just to focus on that. Once Corona is over, I want to get back into TV and FIlm production, and really start grinding on that. I’ve done so many internships and shadowing, that I feel like I’m ready to be a TV/FIlm producer on set. I’m just going hit the ground running after this. Especially after receiving my diploma, I’m just ready to pull up and kill it.
Relationship with Jordan Saria Oram
We started the Hollywood Power Couple (Follow us on Instagram!), because we really just wanted to make content about each other, and about ourselves. People always say, “oh, you guys are such a quirky couple!” Jordan’s from Norway; he’s actually American, because his mom’s from LA, but he’s also Norwegian. He moved here when he was 18 to go to California Lutheran University to study advertising and acting. He’s an actor, but also works as a realtor. I, on the other hand, got my BS in business with an emphasis on entertainment. I’m out here doing production, and acting as well, and music and all of that. It’s really interesting, because we have some of that dichotomy. We both have inner perspectives, and we bring it to our media pieces.
Recently we made this series for Youtube, called “Love Lockdown”. It’s all about couples being locked up during the Corona Virus, and our experience with it in LA. It’s us playing Nintendo Switch, which he just got me for graduation. There’s one of us cruising in Santa Monica, and seeing all the people who are out when they’re not supposed to be. Us going to Malibu, and seeing how empty it was at first, and the difference now (people think it’s chill now). I shoot on my gopro, and edit it myself. It’s just really grassroots, I’d say. That’s how I’ve expanded my YouTube so much.
Basically, we’ve been together for almost two years, and we’re just trying to inspire other people, and show them, “yeah – you can be a powerful couple!” I guess taking “Hollywood Power Couple” really literally, you can do anything you want to do; you just have to believe in yourself, and work hard. We’re making it happen. We were living around USC, but we recently just moved to Hollywood! So we are the Hollywood Power Couple IN Hollywood now, and making it happen.
It’s always just really fun, because you’re both into whatever you’re doing, but then together it’s kind of interesting, because you have these different perspectives. You can always see Jordan being annoyed at me in the videos, or I’m always laughing at what he has to say. It’s just funny to see the interactions between the two of us.
I really appreciate that you see that we’ve been working hard to grow the YouTube channel. Obviously I don’t have MILLIONS of subscribers, but I’m really trying to go in that direction of making my own content. Jordan and I are actually trying to make our own TV show, which is a comedy. We want to make a web series, kinda like Broad City. We’re both very cooky people that are both very outsider-y, and I feel like people would love to watch it. I love Ilona and Abby! I feel like we could make the LA version.
ARW & The Ever-Changing Music Industry
Who are some of your other musical inspirations?
I have a ton of favorite music artists I look up to. I just started signing last year, and I got a vocal coach, and she coaches for Lady Gaga and Meghan Trainor, and some other big people, so it’s crazy. That really inspires me. One of my favorite artists IS Lady Gaga, because she is always reinventing herself, and she never lets any genre define her, or enclose her into a box she can’t get out of. She always makes sure she’s always constantly reinventing herself; almost like Madonna?
Some of my other favorites I like to listen to are Halsey, Gaga, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion. I just finished up working at a music video company called Psycho Films, and they shot so many cool music videos for some of my favorite artists, like Kendrick, SchoolBoy Q, Rich the Kid, just to name a few. It’s really nice to meet some of these artists!
I got to meet Dominic Fike, and he was so nice. He was like, “Yeah! Keep doing music, bro! You’re awesome, I love your personality!” And that was just so refreshing, because it’s really different working as a PA, versus the star on the set. As long as you have a really good personality, the “willing to do anything” mindset, and you’re willing to get paid nothing just to move up, then you will achieve big things in your life. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, and willing to go through everything that it takes to get to being the executive producer.
Music changes constantly from decade to decade, yet old sounds seem to never fade – what are some music trends that are currently on the rise? Where do you see the future of music heading?
That’s a really good question. In my business cinematic arts major classes, we studied the music industry in addition to entertainment of world gaming. I think everything is going into the direction of more interactivity and VR; just having that accessibility to the artists or to the people behind the screen. I definitely think that music is going in the direction of (especially after the Corona Virus) more live stuff, because when everything is behind the screen, anyone can be anything, you know? I think so many people have blown up just from Soundcloud and online plays and everything…but I think that really, in this world, what we need are more live performances.
I think everything is going more towards the electronic world. Unfortunately, classic rock, modern rock, and stuff like that – that’s going to become WAY more electronic than acoustic, or anything just with electric guitars and stuff like that. There’s always going to be synth, there’s always going to be a beat backing the track. There’s always going to be electronics – much more than what we’ve seen in the past.
Especially with the rise of music festivals and the popular music trends of TikTok and social media with quick, danceable beats. I think that hip hop, and pop and electronic are always going to be the top genres for the next 30-40 years to come, because of the fact that they ARE so danceable, and so catchy. That’s why you see these songs at #1 for so long, because it’s just so danceable, and so universal. I think that’s the kind of music that’s going to be prevalent in the years to come.
Do you think this might has something to do with accessibility, and the ability for people to make music on their computers in their bedrooms?
Everyone can make music if they really sat down to do it. It’s really easy to do, if you just sat down and learned how to do it. However, not everyone is cut out for making music on their computers. I think Vitakari made a good in her point that anyone can make music now, pretty much, as long as you have the tendencies and the rhythm, I think that it really takes a true lyrical genius to push it to that level where it can be so popular, so danceable, so just loved by the community.
Yeah, anyone can make music, but there’s a certain way to market it correctly. If you’re signed with a huge label with all these resources at your disposal, then of course you’ll blow up! Of course your music will be pushed hard. But for those like myself, like Vitakari, like a lot of smaller, female artists, you don’t necessarily have that platform to broadcast ourselves on. We all do have a fairly significant amount of monthly listeners across platforms, but it’s not like the millions and millions that the big artists have.
Is there anything about the music industry that you would like to see change?
I would definitely love to see in the future more record labels actually looking for real artists rather than looking for what’s going to sell the quickest. They should look up people for longevity rather than just a cash cow real quick.
I don’t like the radio top 40. The same songs are playing over and over again and again and again all day; especially in LA where you’re driving everywhere, and it’s the same song all day, every day. It gets really frustrating. I think that radio stations should actually do more reach outs to smaller artists like myself, a lot of other small artists whom I’m really close with. I think that if they actually did some talent scouting in the clubs of LA, and places like that more often, then I think that more diverse music would come through. It wouldn’t be so streamline. I feel like all of the rappers are the same now. Like – every single rapper is a mumble rapper, every single rapper is trying to sound like Travis, or Lil Uzi. It’s just getting sickening entirely, because they all sound the same.
On the other side of that, what music trends do you see dying, and going out of style?
I would say, unfortunately…I mean, Jazz is always going to be popular, and Classical is always going to be popular, but I do think it’s dying. The young people aren’t into it, and not as many people are as interested in it any more. My grandma was a piano major in college, and she’s really into piano, so she has, like, every piano song on CD or Spotify and stuff. It’s all on the streaming platforms, but people don’t really listen to that. I guess if you’re having dinner with friends, and you want to sound fancy, you can throw that on. But I don’t think a lot of people really listen to it anymore. And that’s too bad, because it’s really good music. It’s just not on trend anymore.
Live with Covid-19
You’ve just graduated from The University of Southern California – CONGRATS! How has that experience been the last few months with Covid-19? Has this experience affected your music and work?
It has definitely already affected my work! I was about to be working on this Sony film as a PA, and that fell through (obviously). A lot of job opportunities that I had lined up to work at production companies fell through. You know what? That’s okay. I feel like our health is more important, and everyone taking care of themselves is more important. I really appreciate your congratulations, because it was a lot of work. It was blood, sweat and tears, a lot of hard hours studying and doing industry internships, and really just making connections, and discovering who I am as an artist and an individual.
I think that something that’s really important that we have to remember during this time, is that we’re just lucky we don’t have Corona, you know? We have to take care of ourselves and stay healthy, because there are so many people that have it, and they wish people could just not go to work and not spread this terrible virus. Of course, the doctors and nurses and grocery store clerks and Amazon drivers and everybody like that have to work, and it’s so scary to me. I feel so worried for them, due to everything going on around us.
LA’s lockdown was just extended three months, and Corona isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I think that once a vaccine is invented, we will all feel safe again. It’s really crazy, dude! Moving to Hollywood – it’s wild! The streets are quiet at night, all the businesses are shuttered, and all the tourists are gone…You look at the walk of fame, and there’s not one person on there. Usually, it’s clogged to the brim! Like, you can’t even walk beside people. It’s just a weird time.
Fan Stories, and Amanda’s Goals
Have you had anybody recognize you on the street yet? Do you have any fan stories that you would like to share?
I definitely do! I’ve had a lot of fans come up to me in the street. Especially when I’m at music festivals, or when I’m at school. One time in class, I turned around, because this guy was like, “Amanda! Amanda! Can you sign my forehead?” I was like, “Sure, I’ll sign your forehead!” I’ve had girls ask me to sign their tits. I’ve been at school, at parties, in the street in the middle of LA getting tacos, and people say, “Oh my god! It’s Amanda Rome West!” Right after we started dating, Jordan was like, “Your mom always told me that you had all these fans coming up to you, and I thought she was exaggerating a bit…but people really do just like swarm you.” It’s crazy!
Especially at music festivals, I’ll just be up in the VIP, and they’re like, “oh hey, wussup? Like, oh my god, take a photo with me!” I’ve had people start crying when they meet me. It’s really wild. I’ve actually gotten banned from Anthropology one time. I was gonna have a meet and greet, and I was like, “only, like, 30 people are coming. I don’t need to rent out the place. We’ll just meet up at Anthropology.” Then, like, 200 or 300 hundred people came. I was like, “Oh no…” They were all singing my songs, and chanting my name, and security came up to me, and was like, “you gotta leave, or we’re going to have to do something.”
You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to play any show you want – If you had to choose one dream venue to perform in – where would that be and why?
100% the Staples Center. That’s iconic AF! I’ve thought about this a million times, and I would answer this question the same exact way a million times. I love the Staples Center. It’s such an iconic venue, and I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there. So many legends have made their mark there, and I think that being who I am, being an iconic-legend-queen, I would SLAY the staples center, and it would be so awesome. It’s crazy, because I used to live right by there. So, I’ve always had that dream to perform there one day.
We hope we can help make that dream come true. Is there anything else you want to say to the world?
Anything I want? Alright – EVERYONE: Go stream my music. All platforms: Amanda Rome West. Check out my podcast. It’s called “ARW RAW“. Just check my site out, www.amandaromewest.com/store for the new merch dropping. Get Excited, because my second album, Ashkenasty, is dropping June 5th. I’m just so excited to be making so much more on YouTube; be sure to subscribe to my channel. Like me on Facebook, Instagram…Amanda Rome West on all platforms. Follow me everywhere, you can book me for custom raps – I’ve been having so much fun during quarantine doing those for my besties. Just stay positive, and I’d love it if you guys got in touch with me, and want to know what you want to hear more of.
To say that Amanda is a “force to be reckoned with” would be an understatement! The music and entertainment industries will never be the same after Amanda is done. Perhaps that could be a good thing! What are your thoughts about the changing music industry? Leave your thoughts in the comment below or Tweet us @TheHoneyPop!
Don’t forget to be on the lookout for ‘Ashkenasty’ just released on June 5th!