Before she was a major label-signed rapper, Kreayshawn was just working regular jobs, hoping to sustain herself after her mother moved away when she was 15 years old.

“I went through so many hard, crazy, random things, even in my childhood that, for a second, I thought, ‘What is my life going to be?’,” the Bay Area native told the San Francisco Examiner. “It was insane—I could’ve wound up dead.”

She credits being able to stay on her feet to the opportunity afforded to her by Job Corps.

“I was living at V-Nasty’s house, and I just didn’t really see myself doing much of anything,” the "Gucci Gucci" songstress admitted. “Then I heard of Job Corps, I went, and it helped me get my life on track. And if you graduate, they even help you get an apartment.”

The program focuses on helping low-income youth, to guide them to earn a diploma or GED and secure work. “I learned how to power-wash cement, which was actually kind of scary—the water is so hot, we’d have to wear these big overall outfits," she said. "I also know how to paint curbs and fire hydrants—it was actually some pretty interesting stuff.” She eventually had a job at IKEA.

“Everything I went through is just something I can tell other people, so they don’t go through the same thing,” Kreay added. “Like, ‘Girls—don’t get in a car with a guy who says he’s a photographer! It’s not that smart!’”

Kreayshawn is currently prepping her debut album, scheduled for a 2012 release. —Adam Fleischer