Kamaiyah is hard to resist: beautiful smile, teeth like pearls, wide eyes, style that is brazen. She sits across from me in a cheetah-print jumpsuit. I’m looking at something foreign, something iconic, and something that I’ve not heard of until recently.
However, she nestled her way into my consciousness with ease when I played her records a couple of days prior. In particular with a song called “I’m On” (off her self-released debut A Good Night in the Ghetto) where she does this infectious lilt, and then hits you with an Ah Shit you can’t help but sing back. And she knows what she’s saying, mind you, its not mere rap trivialities, mere get money and fuck you-type talk. Instead it’s dipped in concern and specificity.
“Once I recorded it and I heard it I was like ‘this shit’s gonna be huge.’ You could just tell. It was a feeling, like, this is fucking phenomenal,” all of this captured in one silly mishap, a moment that reminds me of something out of Boogie Nights, she continues, “It really was an accident, honestly, the record was made because my best friend was supposed to come do something on another song and ended up not coming. So I had 15 or 20 minutes before my studio session and I wrote that, that’s why it says Ah Shit, cause I couldn’t think of anything else.”
I’m shocked she’s 22, but the age of social media is breeding sagacity at hyperspeed. And she was expecting this, this fame; this rush of publicity from her big, transcendent hit “How Does It Feel” also off Good Night.
She tells me a story about Drake visiting her at about 3AM one night, before they made “Why You Always Hatin” with YG. “We were texting, and he was like ‘Yo what are you doing?’ And I said I was at home and he said he was at a session and if nothing happens after can he come by, and I’m like ‘yeah,’ but in my mind I’m thinking ‘you ain’t gonna come to my fucking house,’” and Kamaiyah and I laugh, and I’m unsure if we’re laughing at the same thing, but I’m laughing at how bizarre the world is. She smiles, goes on, “and I was there playing Mario Kart with my brothers, and he ended up really coming over, and I was like ‘Nigga, do you not know who you are?’”
I can’t tell you what happened next (if Drake indulged in a late night Mario Kart session with the rest of them or not), I forgot to ask, momentarily side-tracked while staring into her four-finger ring that reads YAYA – an alias of hers. However, I guess that story either says a lot about Drake or a lot about Kamaiyah. But, to be honest, after sitting for 20 minutes with Kamaiyah I’d trust her with my heart, although she might not be so willing. “I’m a lover. Yeah, I’m emotional. [But] that’s why I don’t like being in relationships, cause it kind of bothers me – the infidelities, it plays a part in my day-to-day, you know, how I work, so I try to steer from that shit, because motherfuckers will fuck you up.”
I agree. Motherfuckers will. Then I imagine a utopia, full of people like Kamaiyah and myself, ones that hang out and make music, literally and metaphorically speaking, then she adds her two cents into the gentle fray, “You know what’s really weird? What people don’t understand? I literally put on this damn bonnet (Kamaiyah is now wearing a black bonnet, which she points to), sit on my couch, drink tea, and read books. That’s what I do. That’s my idea of fun. Reading.”
A book by Sylvia Browne no less, the acclaimed Montel Williams fortune-teller. Then we share a laugh because I had a neighbor who went on Jerry Springer and she knew a chick that went on Maury.
Then I tell a fortune – in my head of course – based on Kamaiyah, and this is what I saw: a lifetime of making music with anyone she wants to. Still having time to play Nintendo with her fam. Understanding early enough that time and love are the only real currencies in this world.
I’m not making promises, but Kamaiyah is reassuring, as I ask her why she will rise above being a fad. “I feel like I’m iconic. I’m creative. How many Kamaiyah’s do you see walking down the street?” She kind of hollers in another whirl of self-love, “I feel like you have to uplift yourself, I feel like I’m a queen, I don’t wanna be a hoe, I don’t wanna be a peasant, so what’s the best thing you could be? A queen. I’m royalty, so I treat myself as such.”
Don’t Ever Get It Twisted is next for Kamaiyah, a mixtape reminding the pop-culture firmament that if she can do this hit-song thing once, then she can do it again, and again.
Written by Augustus Britton
Photographed by Jake Osmun
Styled by Milli
Makeup: Ashlyn Ayers