COVER STORY: Kidd Kenn is Rap Music's Queer New Future
His name may be Kidd Kenn and he may be 16-years old, but the Chicago based rapper possesses a level of fearlessness and self-awareness that many people (gay or straight) struggle to find well into their adult years.
When I first met Kidd Kenn I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought back to my teenage years and I sure didn’t have the confidence to spit lines like, “‘P’ stand for pussy so my bitches say, ‘eriod. He say he like girls, but to me he seem curious.” Well, at least not out loud and definitely not on a record for my parents and the world to hear.
But then there’s Kidd Kenn. Lounging comfortably on a couch at the Island offices, he played a few tracks from his upcoming project, sometimes rapping along with excitement. As a rap fan, I found myself bopping to each track. By the end of the meeting he had earned another fan.
Armed with bass-filled beats, unmatched confidence and a new deal with Island Records, it’s apparent Kidd Kenn has a bright future ahead of him. I caught up with him after our meeting to talk more about what brought him here and what we can expect from his next project.
Congrats again on signing with Island records! How does it feel to be 16-years old and signed with a major deal?
It feels unreal because it’s something that I always dreamed about and I’m actually living it now. It still feels unreal to me.
You started writing your own raps when you were 13. Did you think you would get signed to a major label at that age?
At first, I was just writing my raps and just saying what I had to say. I didn’t really think that I would get signed at the time, but here I am.
Social media is everything right now and you have over 100,000 followers on Instagram. When was the moment when you began to go viral?
I would say at the end of 2017 I started to go viral. It was around December 2017. It was shocking and exciting. It was something I wasn’t used to. I had a lot of eyes on me. I was dropping freestyle videos and every time I dropped a freestyle video it went viral. I saw all the comments, I saw all the shares, and it was all positive energy.
I’m sure you’re excited about signing with Island records and working on your next project. What can you tell us about the new music?
All I can really say is it’s a new and improved Kenn and it’s going to be 10 songs on the project.
How would you describe your sound as a music artist?
Lit! Exciting. Cute.
When we first met the main thing I took away was your confidence and having a sense of who you are at such a young age. Also, having your mom and your dad support you. Tell me about the moment when you told your parents that you wanted to be a rapper. How did that go?
It’s crazy because I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was really young, though. I was walking with my Momma and I was like, ‘I want to be a rapper.’ She asked me if I was sure that’s what I wanted to do. I was so young, but I still remember that day. When I actually started rapping I didn’t even tell my parents because I was cursing and stuff. I just did what I did and I hid it. But once everything started falling into place they really started to accept it.
How did it feel to have that support from your parents for being a rapper and also being gay?
It feels so good because people don’t get that support. Some people’s parents turn them down and do all types of things so it’s good to know that my people all stayed the same and kept their word and didn’t switch on me.
Kehlani recently brought you out to perform at San Francisco Pride with her. Are there any other artists that you really want to work with?
I really want to work with Kehlani. I want to want to work with Nicki and I want to work with Cardi. I really want to work with everybody! I’m open to working with anybody because I really want to make good music. I don’t have a certain artist that I want to work with because I’m really open to working with anyone that’s making good music to be honest.
Do you ever get nervous when you’re performing. You’ve performed at a lot of different Pride events in different cities. What’s that like?
I love performing! It’s a lot of fun. It’s live so you get to rock the crowd. I’m turned up and my fans turn up and share that energy. Performing is one of the best parts of being a rapper.
You’re so young in your career. What are some of your goals and things you want to do as an artist?
I definitely want to put out more projects and win awards. I really want to break down barriers for other artists like me.
When your next project comes out - your first release with Island records, what do you want people to take away from your music?
That this is Kenn and he really doesn’t give a f-ck and he’s going to do what he do regardless.
And that’s that on that!
Follow Kidd Kenn on Instagram @kiddkenn and check out his video for his new single, Bougie Fellow below!