This article originally appeared on DJBooth.
Anyone carefully watching the rap internet, which obviously means you, has seen the name Kamaiyah pop up a lot recently, and for good reason. She’s been sharing space with superstars while also showing that she can hold rap fans’ attention on her own. It looks like she’s about to pop, so we’ve created this quick guide to get you familiar with one of hip-hop’s new bright lights before you get left in the dark.
Why Have I Been Hearing Her Name?
Kamaiyah had a star turn on YG’s Still Brazy album with a guest spot alongside Drake on “Why You Always Hatin?,” and they all just shot the video in Los Angeles this week, leading to an Instagram photo with Drake (which is more eye-catching than a nice chain these days). Travis Scott also recently confirmed that she would be on his new album, which will likely lead to even more guest spots. Don’t be surprised if you hear her voice pop up on at least one more major album this year.
So Who Is She?
Kamaiyah is a 21-year-old rapper from East Oakland who is signed to Interscope and is well versed in being able to hang with the boys. She grew up with all brothers in multiple foster homes, and her Big Money Gang crew is six of her best guy friends. Being comfortable in your own skin is important for any rapper, and it looks like she has that quality in spades. Her relaxed star power is palpable in the “How Does It Feel” video, which you’ll see more of below.
“People are scared to be different, but I don’t give a shit,” Kamaiyah told MTV. “People been talking about me my whole life. I grew up dirty in foster care. It doesn’t offend me. I’m used to that.”
Her new A Good Night In The Ghetto documentary, which shows how she grew up and allows us to hear about her story from friends and family, is the best way to quickly get a real sense of her background.
What’s Her Music Sound Like?
A good place to start is with her October, 2015, video for “How Does It Feel,” which has racked up 1.3 million YouTube views and shows her rocking a ‘90s aesthetic (she’s also been known to carry an old school cell phone) while merging a Bay Area soundbed with a quasi-Auto-Tuned vocal and an effortless flow. Imagine a mix of Dej Loaf and YG married to a deep appreciation for TLC, Missy Elliot and MC Hammer.
Kamaiyah has a cameo on a legitimate Album of the Year candidate in Still Brazy, multiple superstar co-signs, a full-length project that’s worth your time, and crucially she only has just north of 10k followers on Twitter, which means now is the perfect time become a fan without being accused of riding the bandwagon. Act accordingly.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum