The past few years have been really good ones professionally for Oakland, California-born rapper and singer Kamaiyah.
The artist, whose new single “Hennessey on Ice” has over 30,000 listens on Soundcloud, dropped her debut mixtape called A Good Night in the Ghetto in 2016; was featured on a song with rappers YG and Drake the same year; and starred in a recent Sprite commercial with NBA superstar LeBron James.
“It was very easy,” she says of working with James on the Sprite commercial. “He’s a nice guy.”
The 25-year old got her start performing in the Bay Area as part of Oakland’s Big Money Gang but decided to embark on a solo career in 2015, which has begun to pay off.
“I decided to go solo, which I feel like helped me transcend,” she says. “I knew so many people and when I got my record, so many people supported it. That led to YG hearing my music, and the rest is history.”
YG’s “Why You Always Hatin?,” which peaked at No. 18 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 2016, has over 68 million views on YouTube and was a hit for the star.
For Kamaiyah, seeing herself on-screen was a huge and touching moment.
“I’m kind of like emotionally numb to stuff. Around that time my brother was dying, so . . . it didn’t hit me until months later,” she says. “I was sitting on my couch and saw the video, and I just started crying. It took so long for it to actually register like, ‘Yo, you’re not in the ghetto no more.'”
The music video with Drake wasn’t the first time the two met. She says she met the “God’s Plan” rapper prior to their collaboration when he came to her house before she moved to Los Angeles.
“I didn’t think [he] was going to come,” she said. “I just happened to be up. He came over and we were playing Mario Kart.”
Kamaiyah, who names Tupac Shakur as one of her musical influences, says fans can look forward to new material from her.
“I got a new single coming soon, my album is on the way,” the artist reveals. The “How Does It Feel” singer says she’s ready to give “people what they want this year.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.