An up-and-coming rap star details life growing up in East Oakland in a new documentary.
"A Good Night in the Ghetto" offers a glimpse into Kamaiyah, a 24-year-old rising talent on the national scene who grew up in foster care and worked as a security guard to support her dreams of making it in music.
Her single "How Does It Feel," which has gotten heavy radio play on KMEL, speculates on what it is like to have money, but she told East Bay Express that she doesn't want to be thought of as wealthy.
"You have all these artists that are broke themselves, but because they have this machine behind them, they're perceived as this rich individual," she said. "I don't want you to look at me like that. That way I can still do normal s**t — like ride the BART."
She provided the hook on a single called "Why You Always Hatin" with popular rappers YG and Drake and appeared onstage with YG at KMEL's annual Summer Jam concert in June at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The cameo is captured in the documentary. A video has recently been filmed and promises to snag millions of views, which will bring her to a new level of recognizability.
The ascent hasn't been smooth, though. Besides the everyday struggles of growing up in East Oakland, she reveals in the documentary that she lost her best friend to cancer this past April. His family believes he'll live on through her music and the energy of her collective of friends and artists, the Big Money Crew.
Kamaiyah's upcoming gigs include slots at two high-profile California music festivals: FYF in Los Angeles and Treasure Island Music Festival in the Bay Area. She is now signed to music industry heavyweight Interscope Records, but she has said that she prefers to keep that fact low key in order to let her growth and popularity be organic.
And despite growing up in a dangerous environment, she asserts that she makes music in order to promote positivity.
"For my people, I feel like most music promotes doing drugs and genocide and I feel like this is the reason why we are dying at a rapid rate because there’s no one else promoting something positive, so I make music for the people who don’t want to be those type of individuals," she told XXL. "For the people who just want to have a good time and go home and love their mom, father, kids or whatever it may be, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about going out here, doing a whole bunch drugs, becoming an addict and promoting and prolonging generational curses. It’s not about that. You gotta break that and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to break that trend and fix my people and if anybody is going to do it, I’m the one who is going to try."