INTERVIEW: Kamaiyah opens up about her new album, run-in with Jay Z and how she's genuinely a dope person to be around.
Kamaiyah’s Twitter feed will show you words of inspiration and tidbits of facts about her come-up and how she made her way to being the Oakland-bred rapper she is today. “I’ve been minding my business, making slaps on the low doing non-toxic shit,” she wrote. The “Windows” rapper made her mark with 2016’s A Good Night in the Ghetto followed by 2017’s Before I Wake - the latter of which she doesn’t really count in her discography.
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Following her Roc Nation Brunch attendance, her $1,000 loss on a Super Bowl bet and recent music video releases (those Trina visuals though) Kamaiyah has dropped off her most recent album Got It Made today, February 21st, equipped with 10 songs. The offering is a testament to where she is today and the growth she’s endured throughout the process. When we hopped on a call to discuss life as of late, Kamaiyah expressed even more major keys of inspiration when detailing that her success is not only from her grind, but the fact that she’s actually a “genuine person.”
“People see that and they just kind of fuck with me. I don't be on no hater shit. It makes it easier for people to be around me,” she said. Read our exclusive interview with Kamaiyah where she opens up about her time with Too $hort, her Quavo link-ups and how she keeps herself in check below.
HNHH: Of all the offerings on Got It Made, which hits the most and why?
Kamiayah: “Ratchet” and “Ten Toes.” Depending on what mood I’m in. Every time I listen to it, I get confused because they all put me in a different mood. Off top, the one everyone just loves is “Get Ratchet.” “Ten Toes” for me it’s like… what I’ve been through, why I’m standing, stuff like that.
What does this tape touch on that your past releases haven’t?
I feel like it’s going to show my growth and where I’m at in life, personally. All my releases pretty much show you where I’m at in life and I don’t really count the second one [Before I Wake], I only count the first one [A Good Night in the Ghetto]. The second one was just me rebelling. It wasn’t thought out.
On “Pressure” you rap ‘That bitch ain't gone tell me shit about myself, because I made it out the bottom try to find myself.’ At what point in your career did you “find yourself”?
That record was made after I went through, kind of like, depression. My brother died from cancer, I had to deal with how to handle things […] and I wasn’t happy at my last label so I felt like that [the most] when that record came about. It’s like ‘ya’ll can’t tell me shit cuz I been through all this shit and I made it out the ghetto.’ This is the next level. Anything you put me through I’m gone make it out of.
Was there ever a moment before things really took off that you had to give yourself a pep talk on what was about to conspire for you?
I feel like I always gotta remind myself who the fuck I am, honestly, not even on cocky shit. It’s like ‘bitch I am the king. Bitch, I do this.’ Sometimes in life, it don’t matter who a person is or how successful you think they are, or what you think they got. Motherfuckas can be jealous of you and try to break your spirit. You gotta remind yourself about who you are and that none of this really matters. You the only person you got. You gotta love yourself thoroughly in and out no matter who is in front of you or who’s trying to break that. I bother nobody, I respect everyone and I show everybody love.
Surely, you don’t really think you “don’t need nobody else.” Who do you show love to for where you are now?
My family and my friends of course. When I say ‘I don't need nobody else’ I even mean them. At the end of the day can’t nobody tell you how to live your life. Can’t nobody tell you how to be happy. Everything starts with self. That’s why everybody depressed, they looking for outside sources to do what they should be doing for themselves. Even when I was sad and was going through my shit nobody could pull me out of that. Everything starts with yourself. If you ain’t happy and ain’t loving yourself and ain’t dedicated to your own craft or dream how somebody else going to take you seriously?
When you’re helming a song do you think of what one person, in particular, [will think] or your fan base as a whole?
It depends on how I feel because honestly I feel like people gone fuck with it either way. It’s always based on how I feel or what I’m trying to accomplish, like what’s the next piece to the story?
What’s the story behind this tweet: “Jay Z told me “Ima have to fuck around and call Kamaiyah“ yesterday shout out to @G_Eazy for giving me the hardest shout out of all time.”
I met Jay one time before that. When I see him I kind of like…be on some shy shit, you know, nervous. Like, nigga, ya’ll Jay Z and Beyonce. He looked up at me when I walked up towards him and he was like “sup” and he said, “I might have to fuck around and call Kamaiyah.” It was like I was an alien or something I didn’t know what was going on but he broke the ice.
What advice would you give to a young person coming from Oakland who wants to pursue a career in the industry?
Sticking to themselves, don’t let nobody discourage them. Create their own path and a big thing, I feel like for The Bay…don’t be an asshole. Niggas get on and they start poppin’ their shit and start tryin’ to shit on the people who never thought they’d make it out. […] You ain’t gotta go back and be like ‘ah fuck all ya’ll I’m on now.” If they didn’t fuck with you they wouldn’t be playing the music. And that’s a slap in the face to anybody - once you become successful they gotta listen to you! So shit, that’s another justification in itself. Do your shit, turn up and make them slap your shit.
A lot of this shit honestly, it happened naturally. Quavo owed me a verse since…right before “Bad And Boujee” came out. We met because Travis - I kept seeing him and “Bad And Boujee” blew up. I’ve been seeing that nigga for a couple of minutes and he’s always like “I got you.” I finally caught him on the set of [a music video] and he’s like “send me a record.” But yeah, me and Quavo had been chasing each other back and forth for like two-three years.
People have discussed how it’s time for females to rise in music. You’ve previously explained how it’s not about your gender but your grind, is this still something you stick by?
I definitely still believe in that because the females that are at the top of their careers are [there] because they keep hustling and they don’t stop. Rico Nasty’s not concerned about no niggas, she’s doing her shit popping her shit. When you stop racing and look back and see who’s behind you, that’ll fuck you up. Especially when you lookin’ at a lane that ain’t necessarily your lane. My lane ain’t Rico's lane. You’re running your own race. People will like each female individually for different reasons. Keep running your race.
There have been a couple female artists who haven't reacted well to certain reviews of their music. How do feel about the fact that not everyone’s going to rock with you or the sounds you put out?
I don’t give a fuck… It’s not for you. The people running these blogs got their own life outside of the blogs. Motherfucka could be working for a hip hop media publication and could go home and listen to Bon Jovi so how can I even take your opinion. It ain’t about you, it’s about these fans who are consuming my music at a rapid rate. Your opinion does not give me merit of if I’m good or bad. I know I'm good or I wouldn’t be here. […] Why the fuck should I care about your one ass opinion - it don’t matter!
You once called Too $hort someone who you look at as your Uncle, what’s something you’ve learned from him from just being in his presence?
[…] All he do is have bitches, drinkin - I don't know! People ain’t never gave me no [long ass] speeches like people think. People already know I get what I’m doin’ so they just be like 'keeping ridin’ on them niggas.' They ain’t gone tell me ‘don’t do this don’t do that.’ I’m not really out there for real, I’m not talking my shit on other people and I just do my music.
Is there something you felt that you haven't accomplished yet?
I want awards, I want to win VMAs, Grammys - all this shit that everybody else wants. You know what I’m saying, I feel like I ain’t never had a fair chance at success because my label didn't back me. This year I feel like I'm trying to get a fair chance. I deserve that just as much as my counterparts. I work as hard as everybody else and my shit deserves being respected as much as everybody else. If I gotta invest in myself because I got my own label now, then that’s fine. I’m trying to run this race all the way to the finish line. If I keep running and get through the finish line, eventually ten to fifteen years from now I’ll pass the baton back to some lil Kamaiyah I ain’t never met before, you feel me? That’s how I feel like this game should be - you get anything you ever wanted and you create a blueprint that motherfuckas wants to follow.
When Tyler, The Creator won a Grammy this year he was happy but he spoke out about Grammys not supporting Black artists. What’s your opinion on the whole award voting system and black artists not being supported?
I feel like I understand where they coming from as far as ‘we don’t get the respect we want’ and the only way you get the respect you want is to conform into something that’s not you. But that starts within the artists to, If we really just took our stance and didn’t conform then they would have to come fuck with us. A lot of people are fed up because they conform, try to cater to them and give them what they want. Imagine if the whole hip hop genre as a whole stopped fucking with them - they’d be like ‘where these niggas at?” At the end of the day, not to pop our shit, but Black people create the waves and the vibes. Hip hop is running the world right now. I just watched the Super Bowl the other day and every commercial has a got damn Black artist in it. If that don't tell you something.
Anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
I just want people to listen to my music and understand me as an individual. People gotta grow with me and get to know me. I've been here for almost four years and people don’t know me. This is my time to put out some offerings and allow people to get to know me and grow with me as an artist.