Tell us a bit about where you grew up, and how you first got into music?
I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island; it’s very small. I’m fairly certain some people don’t even know it exists! Being a nineties baby, my influences include artists that is now considered the greats ranging from Selena Quintanilla to Tupac, Biggie Small, Puff Daddy, Mase and 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson). They all had an influence on my music.
I started writing when I was about 13 years old while I was playing with this old YAMAHA piano/mixer in my room. While I was listening to the radio one day, I heard Missy Elliott’s ‘Gossip Folks’ featuring Ludacris. This inspired me to write my first verse. That’s when I said to myself, ‘I can do that’.
I started to write my first verse to the beats I created on the old mixer, and it was love at first sound. I began writing rhymes, but didn’t tell anyone about it until I found the courage to start performing in front of people. People liked it and said I should pursue it. I wasn’t a straight A student, so music was my escape. It helped me to leave behind the bullying and deal with my parents’ divorce. I started hanging with other musicians and created a group called ARTBLAZE.
When did you first come out as a Lesbian and what was your experience of this?
I actually started dating at 14 but never thought it was needed to officially say “I’m Gay.” For my parents, they weren’t the type to put me out; they were supportive of my decision. My brothers, being the hustlers they are, showed their understanding by giving me money.
The people who I was around in the industry knew as well but wanted me to appear as a certain image because they felt it would be good for my career. However, wanting to be real and authentic to my fans and myself, I introduced myself to the community as Young Kaii ‘the lesbian artist’.
Ever been in love?
(Yes) I have and it’s a beautiful thing, it’s more beautiful when it goes both ways.
Being a lesbian hip hop artist is an incredible achievement. Have you found the industry has been largely accepting of it, or have you been met with any negativity?
I found the industry to be largely accepting so far. However, I have been met with adversities and negativity mainly because a lot of media platforms are not very accepting of an artist from the LGBT+ community. This makes it much more difficult to gain respect as an artist.
What motivates Young Kaii to keep going even when met with adversity?
My fans and the love of my craft. The support I get from those that support me and the music I create is very uplifting. The joy is found in the process of creating not the result. I stay focused on the things that make me happy such as reading a book, surrounding myself with positive people and even drinking a cup of tea!
What experiences do you draw the most inspiration from for the lyrics you perform? Have you found that being LGBT+ has been an influence in any way?
The inspiration comes from life experiences in general, and from being able to perform for my fans and give them something they can relate to; I want my fans to feel like they can relate to me as a person and an artist.
With reference to my lyrics, you can say some of the focus is on women (wanting, desiring, appreciating), because I am a woman who loves women. Also, some of the struggles I may go through because I am LGBT+ is addressed as well. My sexuality is not always the focus, but it is a part of my music.
What issues do you still think need to be addressed in the LGBT+ community, and if you had to solve one of them, what would you do?
Bullying has always been a major issue, that not only affects young children, but adults also. There is also a lack of equal rights and unity amongst the LGBT+ community which should be addressed and improved.
If I had to solve one, it would have to be equal rights. Humanity believes that it has the right to have power over others and to judge others. I believe that no one on earth has the right to treat others unequally based on their prejudices.
Do you think your music has changed from when you first started? If so, why and how?
Yes, my music has changed simply, because I’ve evolved as a person; my music will always change because I write based on life experiences.
It all started at high school, where I would show off as an emcee with some hardcore rap lyrics. I was out to prove myself initially, so I wanted to show my skills.
I then chose to introduce myself into the community. I wanted them to know what I had experienced, and I wanted them to be able to relate to what I had to say.
After some time I started writing about love. These songs were about something I wanted to say from the heart. It was less about proving myself, as I had become more established. Music, much like life, happens in stages; it will continue to change, because I will continue to change.
What would be your dream venue to perform at?
Madison Square Garden. It’s a huge honour for an artist to perform there, and not many can sell out The Madison Square Garden!
Although many of the artists I’d love to collaborate with are deceased, I think Eminem would be ideal. He, as an artist who has experienced a lot in his life, writes with such emotion and from the heart that I feel we would work well together.
Last track you listened to?
Oddly enough, my own track ‘Rhythm’ with a friend who was listening to it recently.
What’s in the pipeline for Young Kaii?
Well, as it goes, one of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan watched my video ‘Popularity Contest’, and my music will be featured on their mixtape ” The Genesis” so stay tuned for the release.
A lot of exclusive projects are in store for #teamkaiidallday. You can stay in the know by keeping up with my every move via social media at www.twitter.com/youngkaii orwww.facebook.com/youngkaiimusic.