Kamaiyah Opens Up About Her Interscope Deal and Collaborating With Nicki Minaj
Last week, Oakland newcomer Kamaiyah performed for the very first time at the House of Vans in Brooklyn, alongside 2016 XXL Freshman Denzel Curry and hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd. The 21-year-old put on an incredible performance that was not only well-received by the New York crowd, but it showed and proved that she has what it takes to be rap's next big superstar.
While Kamaiyah may be fairly new to a lot of people, the Bay Area rapper has managed to create quite the buzz in 2016, having launched her debut mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, back in March to rave reviews. The 16-track project is full of good vibes and signature Bay Area sounds, which helped introduce Kamaiyah to a legion of new fans and established her as the new one to watch out of the Bay. Kamaiyah then struck gold when she landed a guest feature on YG's Still Brazy lead single "Why You Always Hatin?" alongside Drake. Now, with more momentum than ever, Kamaiyah is looking to capitalize off her success by spreading a positive message with her feel-good music.
Shortly after Kamaiyah tore up the stage in BK, he took some time off from her busy schedule to chop it up with XXL about the success of her debut mixtape, her label situation and her desire to work with Nicki Minaj.
XXL: You ripped the House of Vans stage and had the crowd lit! Tell me about the energy you bring to the stage with each of your performances?
Kamaiyah: I just like to have a good time and turn everything into a big ass party because I know most people my age want to have a good time and get away from their stress and their problems. That’s why I shout out the college kids so much and that’s the shit I want to promote. People in college and graduating trying to make something out of themselves. They’re the ones that matter more than anything else in this world, so I feel like they should have their moments too and this is their moment when they want to come out and party. You got to show them love because they’re our future.
You've mentioned in the past you're against the use of drug talk in your raps and you don't promote drug usage in your music. When did you decide that and why is it so important for you to express that message in your music being that the majority of rap is full of drug references?
For my people, I feel like most music promotes doing drugs and genocide and I feel like this is the reason why we are dying at a rapid rate because there’s no one else promoting something positive, so I make music for the people who don’t want to be those type of individuals. For the people who just want to have a good time and go home and love their mom, father, kids or whatever it may be, that’s what it's about.
It's not about going out here, doing a whole bunch drugs, becoming an addict and promoting and prolonging generational curses. It's not about that. You gotta break that and that’s what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to break that trend and fix my people and if anybody is going to do it, I'm the one who is going to try.
Your mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, has received rave reviews from music critics and fans. At the time it dropped, did you expect it to get the love that it's received?
Absolutely not. I was so nervous when I dropped A Good Night in the Ghetto. I’m like, Yo, they’re not going to understand it. They’re not going to be receptive. They’re going to be like what the hell is this shit? Because it’s something that people weren’t familiar with and when I first dropped, the first couple of comments was like, “This shit is fire.” But what really was a tough crowd for me was the Hot New Hip-Hop readers, and I knew once they weren’t like being assholes, I was like, Yo, we on to something.
Hot New Hip-Hop is one of the worst sites to go to and check out the comments because they be like "Thumbs down!" "Fuck this shit. Not hot!" real quick. Even the comments it was like backhand compliments, but you liked it. It was cool to see them comments and I felt like I was on to something and I haven’t stopped. The project is still growing and people still liking the mixtape, so I feel like I can ride that until the end of the year because so many people still haven’t heard it and it's a great project and I don’t want to water it down by topping it with another project so soon.
Since the mixtape has been considered one of the best projects of 2016 thus far, does that put a lot of pressure on you and your next project?
Absolutely not because I know how long it took me to make that and I know I can make another project like that easily.
So how long did it take you to record ?
It took me about two weeks to record the project. I had four or five songs recorded already. I went in the studio with all my producers for one week and then the next week I recorded and wrote everything.
You sent a tweet out recently in which you mention you want Nicki Minaj to hop on your record "Niggas." Have you gotten a hold of Nicki yet?
I’m working on it! Maybe I can call Drake and he can help me [laughs]. I was actually trying to get Trina on there first. We sent the record to her because I met Trina in Oakland and she wanted to get on “How Does It Feel” but I didn't want anyone on that, so I was like I got this record and this was before the tape even came out, and she never responded. I wanted a female rapper who I felt was going to fit the record but she never came through, so now I'm like Nicki would be fire.
Who were some of the female artists and female rappers you were listening to while growing up?
Missy Elliott, TLC, Aaliyah and stuff like that. I didn’t really listen to a bunch of stuff, but I do remember the record, “Whoomp There It Is.” That was like one of my favorite songs as a kid and pretty much all the feel-good music that I heard was my thing. That’s why when you hear my music it's just feel-good music because the music made me want to groove when I was growing up, so that’s the vibe I want people to get from my music.
So we gotta ask you about your label situation because according to multiple sources you're signed to Interscope. Is this true?
I mean I feel like at this point I can no longer hide that I'm on Interscope. But I just feel like I will never publicly just be like…because I feel like I don’t ever want to shit on my peoples, you know what I'm saying? So that’s why I’m private about it. I've been on there for a while now, but I just like to see the organic growth. I want people to grow with me because they think ' something organic. Like I don’t want to be like, Oh, yeah I’m on a label. I’m signed now! because I feel like it's standoffish to people. They like to see something and be a part of it, so I'm allowing everyone to indulge in it and feel like they building it up versus me like, "Yeah, my label this and that." But yeah, I’m signed there.
Are you like that when it comes to other aspects of your music?
Yeah, even with my features and stuff like that I don’t like to announce anything I'm doing because I always want people to feel surprised and the element of that is the biggest thing for an artist. Because the energy people get when they feel good about something, that's what I feed off of.
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