Going Platinum: Chika

Going Platinum: Chika

For our platinum birthday, we give the gift of girl power with six standouts from our 20 years of sonic discovery.

For our platinum birthday, we give the gift of girl power with six standouts from our 20 years of sonic discovery.

Photography: Ryan Mcginley

Styling: Angelo Desanto

Text: Devin Barrett

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Fine china is the norm, but for V's platinum birthday, we give the gift of girl power. In our week-long series "Going Platinum" we highlight six standouts form our 20 years of sonic discovery.

How you describe your sound?

Melodic rap, melodic hip hop. it’s much influenced by multiple types of genres. Because of how I grew up, my parents are African; I listened to a lot of jazz music. And then on top of that, I’m still black American, so I listen to hip-hop as well. You can see those two worlds kind of mesh. 

 

Do you enjoy performing?

I started performing in 2017. I think I had my first show ever was in Florence, Alabama. Lit, I love Florence. Florence is a dope place to go. When I’m performing, I feel very much at one with myself. I think that this sounds a little cliché, but the stage is my home. In high school, I was in musical theatre. That was my focus. I’m a theatre kid and being on the stage is very much my element. It’s a place where nothing else matters. Everyone else in the crowd came to see a show; they came to see this, so no one is there to judge you. They came because they want to see you do this.

 

Right, it’s a safe place. 

If you love what you do, which I do, this should be fun for you. So, when I’m on stage, I’m just having a good time, cracking jokes and being stupid.

 

What do you hope the listener kind of takes away from your music?

I hope that people start to be more real with themselves by listening to my music. I want to change how people process emotion. That’s my tagline. Being the Pisces that I am, I feel like I’m very emotionally literate. I try to convey that in my music. I want [listeners] to get that and to be more in tune with their higher self. It will help them not to hurt people, you know what I mean? The hurt people hurt people thing is real. Most of it comes from inner turmoil. No one holds our hands through healing at this point; you have to do it yourself. I want my music to feel [healing] for them. 

 

How do you maintain authenticity?

For me, it’s not a struggle. I foster a relationship with fans based on social media. My entire platform has been about me cultivating an honest dialogue with my fans by being very open. I think I really hit the jackpot by being a child of the Internet. For the most part, people always get it at this point. Over the past three years, they’ve seen the waves of life for me prior to the blow-up. It’s been a slow, steady grind. They don’t expect anything but authenticity. I’m tied to being myself at this point. [My followers] know me at this point. They’re great; I love them. 

Do you feel like your music is cathartic?

Yes, I wrote a song called “My Whole Mood is Blown.” It’s basically about being in the public eye versus me dealing with internal things, such as dealing with body image issues. As I’m healing, I also have to deal with the words of outside people. So, in writing that song, the response was very overwhelming, and I heard people say, “this is literally my life.” And I get that—I know that they’re not in the public eye like I am, but they can relate. I must be doing something right. I’m speaking from my heart and clearly, it’s resonated with people. And the song isn’t sad, but it’s very real and honest and can clearly draw emotion. In that way, I think it’s very cathartic for them. Because they don’t have to say these things. Because my lyrics in “My Whole Mood is Blown” include things that are very hard to admit...even to myself. 

It’s an outlet. 

It very much is. There’s a line in [the song] that people probably brush over. But it’s literally talking about an eating disorder. “So many places I want to go, so many people I want to meet. I’m in my apartment not trying to eat. I just want to walk on the fucking street.” Those are things that a lot of people aren’t willing to say out loud. And so, I do it for them and a lot of my fans really appreciate that. That’s what I always want to do. 

What do you feel like is the most challenging aspect of today’s music industry?

Going against the grind. As I said, authenticity is something that very much comes naturally to me. But at the same time, knowing the musical climate and knowing what people expect from a female rapper…this is actually a conversation that’s been happening [lately]. It’s been a hot topic because Jermaine Dupri basically said, ‘There aren’t any female rappers talking about anything other than pussy.’ In response, Cardi B made a post where she named me, Tierra Whack and Rapsody saying we’re women who don’t just rap about sex. 

This is what the audience wants for the most part, or it’s what they’ve been accustomed to. That’s the most difficult part for me. Is there a way to be me and also give people what they want? Or, is this one of the things I have to sit with until the tires turn? I know that being myself is enough. But at the same time, I can’t be too stubborn, and not adapt to the business that I’ve entered. One of my favorite quotes is, “if you want to be a musician, you can always be a musician. But you’re in the music business.” It’s a business. You have to really think about who your audience is. I think everything will certainly change soon. 

It’s [always been about] ‘hot girls.’ For a female rapper, if you’re not a certain type, you kind of get pushed to the back. There are male rappers everywhere you look. There’s no opportunity for people like me, for the most part. We’ve paved the way on our own and we’re fine, but it’s definitely a symbiotic relationship between the media and the fans. In terms of what they want from female artists, they need to come together and challenge their own ways of thinking. It’s a matter of us being seen. It’s about giving us the same opportunities as other girls. Somebody needs to foster that type of climate. 

I think it also helps where you have instant gratification from social media. There’s an audience, they’re responding. The direct connection is fairly new. You’re able to feel heard. 

For sure. It’s been a really cool process to see. I know more about my demographic, what my fan base and audience want than my label does. I’ve been the one who has sat and grown with my analytics for the past three years. It hasn’t just been an upward trajectory. There have been moments of plateauing, where I’m worried I’m doing something wrong. 

It’s so easy to fall into that trap, for anyone.

You have to really understand that it’s part of the journey. There was a time where I couldn’t take two days off from the Internet. Now, I haven’t posted in a minute and I feel great. There was a time where the only thing that got me back into the swing of things was Duffy 

(“Begging Me for Mercy” Duffy). She found me on Instagram in 2017 and reached out to me. She literally paid for my first studio session. She’s such a sweetheart. 

I’m also curious to hear what it was like being in the Calvin Klein campaign? How do you feel being in the public eye?

Up until the Calvin campaign, things seemed very tame. I haven’t felt as much pressure from being in the public eye. I’ll still be walking around in my pajamas outside and no one will say anything to me because they still don’t know me yet. It’s great. It’s really the sweet spot. 

Credits: Chika wears sweater MCM, On eyes Marc Jacobs Beauty See-quins Glam Glitter Eyeshadow in Pop Rox

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