Excelling in a lane of his own, Kidd Kenn is breaking hip-hop’s mold and staying true to himself at that. The musician, who is currently preparing his next project, continues to propel to triumphant heights with each new release that he unloads.
Born and raised in Chicago, Kenn quickly rose to viral triumph through a number of freestyle videos that amassed thousands of views and most importantly, his cult-like fanbase. He formally introduced himself through early singles like 2018’s “Fake Shit,” “Eriod” featuring Queen Key,” and “Icky” to name a few. Kidd Kenn’s star power is most recognizable for his lyrical prowess and witty bars that make you think twice. Not to mention, the rapper has gained co-signs from the likes of Cardi B, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and several others.
Last year, Kenn dropped his critically-acclaimed EP Problem Child, boasting features from Dess Dior, Delli Boe, and Rico Nasty. Among several standout cuts from the project, songs like “Good Day” and “B4” quickly rose to become fan favorites. The latter of which received a remix from fellow rap phenomenon Saucy Santana. That same year, Kidd Kenn appeared on the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher alongside Toosii, Lakeyah, and Symba, which further cemented his presence as an artist to watch. His latest musical offering, “Body,” is a feel-good anthem about embracing your figure regardless of shape or size. The song serves as the first taste of his forthcoming EP, slated to release in the coming months.
On the heels of his new single “Body,” we chat with Kidd Kenn in regard to being a style icon, being the first LGBTQIA+ artist to perform at the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher, building self-esteem, and new music. Read on for our conversation.
Congrats on the release of your new song “Body”! Can you share with us the inspiration behind the song and how does it welcome this new chapter in your musical journey?
I made “Body” so people could feel good about their body, any color any shape, any size. It’s your body!
Prior to this song, fans and music lovers alike knew you for surefire tracks such as “Good Day,” “Freestyle,” and the Rico Nasty-assisted “Moves.” What is about your music that you think people connect with so much, and in turn, what type of impact do you want to create through music?
I think people connect to my music because it’s so fun, and upbeat—a good vibe and a good spirit. I want my music to make people feel like themselves through my music. I want them to feel like they can achieve their goals by being themselves and know they never have to front or be something that you aren’t—you can be yourself to be where you want to be.
Last year, you also made history as the first LGBTQIA+ artist to perform at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher alongside the likes of Lakeyah and Toosii. Your freestyle was met with so much praise, but how have you been since then both musically and personally?
Since the BET Awards, I think everything has been still going really good. I’m still in a growing stage, and still going up, never sitting in one place. I gained a lot of new fans from that. People have been streaming the music and just waiting for what’s next for me.
Previously, hip-hop has been viewed as the epicenter for homophobia in terms of welcoming new artists to the genre, although that’s seemingly changed a bit with artists such as yourself, Lil Nas X, Saucy Santana, and Dellie Boe—the latter of which you’ve collaborated with in the past. What are your current thoughts on the state of hip-hop and what do you think can be done to dismantle some of that stigma?
I feel like what could be done—is for people to just listen before speaking on someone. Give these artists a chance to show their music. People will judge a book by the cover, but you won’t know about the book before you read it. That’s what I want more people to do—just listen.
With that being said, does it ever bother you to be boxed in or labeled as a gay rapper? There’s obviously been a lot of conversation around the word “female rapper” regarding whether it’s disrespectful or a necessary differentiation, although I’m curious to know if titles similarly affect you as an artist?
At first, I didn’t care. But as I grew into more of myself and developed more with my artistry and creativity, it did start to bother me. I’m more than just a gay artist, I’m an artist. I make music for everyone. I do really love my community and I respect it to the fullest, but you don’t look at Biggie and call him a straight rapper, so don’t look at me as a “gay rapper.”
On social media, you’ve become quite the style icon, whether it be your technicolored hair or outfits. How do other mediums such as fashion and beauty play a role in how you creatively express yourself?
Fashions just makes me feel more free. I love styling myself so I literally look exactly how I would picture myself in a dream, cartoon, or in a made-up life. I use fashion to express my mood. It’s like a feeling. One day I’ll feel this way and dress a certain way to reflect that and the next day, I can feel differently and change my hair and outfit to express that too.
Having the unwavering confidence that you carry in your songs and everyday life outside of music is something that I’m sure you had to work towards as well. What advice would you give to this generation when it comes to being confident and building self-esteem?
I feel like being confident comes with knowing yourself and being comfortable with yourself. Always stay true to yourself and always be you. People are going to like you for being you—always be yourself 100%. The girls know, this is who I am.
I had a lot of family people around me that helped mold me into that including my mother and my grandmother. It really is you against the world, but it’s important to be around people who can allow you to express who you are.
You just put out this phenomenal song, you’re currently working on an EP, and your fanbase is rapidly growing by the day. Tell us what’s next for Kidd Kenn.
More music, more everything, more looks, more content, more lanes I’m going to be touching. More everything! Literally.
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