Considering her astronomical rise over the past six months, it’s hard to imagine that Kamaiyah was actually working night shifts as a security guard this time last year.
But off the strength of her March mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, the Oakland native landed a deal with Interscope Records and became close collaborators with some of hip-hop's brightest talents. Kamaiyah not only co-wrote YG's infectious player anthem “Why You Always Hatin’” -- which, with its Oakland slang and a guest spot by Drake, rose to No. 62 on the Billboard chart -- but she also steals the spotlight from her more famous co-stars in the video, rapping the hook in a silk robe as two men give her a foot rub.
Now, she’s become part of one of the most transgressive things to happen to hip-hop in 2016: YG’s "F--k Donald Trump" tour.
YG became an unexpected leader of Trump resistance in hip-hop after dropping his single “FDT” during the primaries. The Compton native doesn’t exactly fit the stereotypical “conscious rapper” mold, but he, Kamaiyah, and the other rappers on the tour -- RJ and Sad Boy -- are using their platform and street credibility to mobilize hip-hop fans to get politically active.
As for Kamaiyah, the 24-year-old is ascending to a unique position in the hip-hop industry, both as a female artist and one from Oakland. Unlike New York, Chicago, or Memphis, the Bay Area doesn’t have a strong legacy of established female rappers. Nineties pioneers, such as the Conscious Daughters (whom Kamaiyah considers role models) and Suga T of E-40’s group The Click, never rose to the same level of recognition as their male peers. And the Bay Area’s regional style of street rap, mob music, has revolved so much around pimp culture that it’s easy to see why women might feel discouraged from rapping in the first place.