Widely-recognized for sounding off about Kanye West in a blazing freestyle over his own “Jesus Walks” beat that went viral, 23-year-old Chika (born Jane Chika Oranika) the youngest child of three daughters to her Nigerian born parents, is moving to her own hard-hitting beat.
Receiving praises from the likes of Lena Waithe, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Erykah Badu, the Montgomery, Alabama native found a knack for flowy lyricism just a few years ago. “I’ve been rapping seriously for about two years, like actually taking care of the craft and paying attention to it,” she tells TIME.
The rising talent, who now calls L.A. home, continues to poetically achieve her rap darling status. She released her first album Industry Games earlier this year in March and is now setting herself apart as a contending lyricist who has what it takes to be one of the best.
Here are five things you need to know about BET’s Amplified artist of the month.
Gravitating to poetry in middle school, Chika first started singing, then later blending her raps and spoken word, into her songs. After turning down a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend Berklee College of Music, Chika spent her first year of college at the University of Alabama but soon dropped out to pursue her music career full-time. Her hard work would soon pay off as rappers from Cardi B to Wale and beyond started to take notice and share her talent to the world -- all before she even signed her first record deal with Warner Music in July 2019.
In 2018, Chika ripped through Kanye West’s pro-Trump political stance bodying her one-minute verse over his award-winning “Jesus Walks” beat. Viewed nearly 7 million times on Twitter, Chika’s hard-hitting lines go from “how you say you Yeezus but did nothing to restore us” to “you support the people up in power that abort us.”
Describing herself as a “political rebel ass,” Chika has confidently used her voice to speak up and speak out since she was 17-years old. She is a supporter of the fight for racial injustice in the wake of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter Movement, often using her social media platforms to share her thoughts on these issues. While peacefully protesting in late May, Chika and members of her team were unlawfully detained by the LAPD during a protest in response to George Floyd’s death. The rapper has also used her voice to urge communities to fight back against abortion bans.
Chika describes her childhood in Rolling Stone as “no joke” referencing growing up as a Black, queer, plus-size woman from immigrant parents in the South. Instead of absorbing these titles as obstacles, Chika used them to propel her stardom. She graced the cover Gay Times on the heels of her EP release Industry Games. It was also the first time she hit a million followers on Instagram.
Inspired by one of her favorite Black sitcoms, A Different World, Chika added her own LGBTQ+ twist within one of her most popular singles “Can’t Explain It.” And the music video is just an extension of her boldly making queer, Black love the focus of her musical narrative.
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(Photo by Prince Williams/Getty Images)