The Come Up: Katie Got Bandz
It’s been a little under a year since Katie Got Bandz released her first mixtape Bandz And Hittaz. In that span of time, the South Side Chicago-bred 19-year-old has made a name for herself nationwide through the streets and on the web via a handful of viral videos. One of the key figures of the burgeoning drill scene, it’s no surprise that Katie wants to separate herself from her peers. She certainly has the confidence to do it.
“My sound, my image and my voice are different. You know, a lot female rappers tend to sound alike,” she says. “They talk about a lot of sex to sell themselves, but I’m talking about something different. It’s hard being a female in this industry regardless, but you have to be able to stay humble and grind hard.”
This time around, she proves that she’s working harder to stand out and people are paying close attention. Although Katie has stuck with the same producer—her cousin BlockOnDaTrakk—she has a bit more bite on her sophomore project Drillary Clinton. Her presence shines alongside the likes of Gunplay, King L, and another female up-and-comer, Dreezy. XXL got to chat with Katie about the tape, aligning herself with Louie, and growing up in Chicago.—As told to Charne Graham
On growing up in Chicago:
Katie Got Bandz: “It feels good to know that Chicago music is in the spotlight right now. For me to be where I am only after two years is a blessing. I just want to see us all win and make it in Chicago. I’m proud.
"I grew up in the Ida B. Wells projects on the South Side, the Low End. Growing up in Chicago has impacted my music because the high crime rate and the street violence that’s happening here is real. Growing up in the projects where I come from has a big influence on my music because I’m telling stories. Being in the area I grew up in all my life has a lot to do with my music and it’s the reason I’m in the case I’m fighting right now. I’ve learned a lot from the city. Chicago plays a major part in me being the person I am right now.”
On how she got started:
Katie Got Bandz: “Katie comes from the name of an American Girl Doll and the Got Bandz part came from my friend Beanz.
"I always wanted to rap. I didn’t start until I was 17, but I grew up around my cousin BlockOnDaTrakk and spent a lot of time in the studio with him. I always wanted to do it but when I started I wasn’t really taking it serious.
"My friends and family are who motivated me to keep at it right after I dropped “I Need a Hitta” though. People really liked that song more than I thought they would and that’s what inspired me to keep going. Of course there were others who doubted me and said I’d never get anywhere with this but that just made me want to go harder.”
On her influences:
Katie Got Bandz: “In high school I was a real big fan of Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Kanye, King Louie, Beyonce and Rihanna. My producer BlockOnDaTrakk influenced me to rap though.”
On her progression on Drillary Clinton:
Katie Got Bandz: “I feel like I progressed all the way around: my delivery, my lyrics, my energy and different beats. Everything is just better. I used to be kind of shy in the studio but not anymore. I’m more turnt up and ready to take on any challenge.”
On linking up with King L:
Katie Got Bandz: "When they hit me up the first time I thought it was a damn April Fool’s joke because it was around that time of year. I had actually hit Louie up myself way before that when I first started and didn’t get any feedback, so I didn’t believe it when he actually want[ed] to do a remix to one of my songs.
"The first time they reached and said Louie wanted to remix 'Ridin' Round And We Drillin,' I was like, ‘Whatever.’ Then I get the beat to him and he sends it back. They got in tune with me and my sound and I started to believe it was real when they told me they wanted to sign me to Lawless Inc. I thought it was all a joke until they kept calling me."
On what's next:
"The grind don’t stop now, I’m about to start working on my third mixtape. I’m doing some videos and shows. I want [to] hopefully work with Future, Yo Gotti, Kanye, Jay-Z, Gucci, Rihanna, Wale and Nicki Minaj."