Rapper Kodie Shane Talks Making Music 'Ahead of Its Time' & Linking With Lil Yachty
Beyond anchoring a Grammy nomination thanks to his featured verse on D.R.A.M.'s "Broccoli," Lil Yachty is also assembling his Sailing Team, a musical crew that also includes Atlanta rapper/singer Kodie Shane.
Since creating her first official track called "Crown Me" at 14, 15 years old and penning songs for a popular Atlanta group [she wouldn't reveal the act's name beyond saying she wrote their "best songs"], the 19-year-old Epic Records MC has been exposed to the industry since she was a youngin'. Her older sister Brandi Williams was part of the girl group Blaque, best known for the Hot 100 Top 10 hits, 1999's "808" and 2000's "Bring It All To Me."
Now, Shane has become a SoundCloud darling, amassing plays in the millions with melodic offerings like "Hold Up" -- the flashy jam featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty -- and "Sad," another Yachty duet whose hook finds Shane simply singing, "I just wanna be sad." Her "Drip On My Walk" visual has also racked up two million views on YouTube.
Several days after releasing her Zero Gravity EP, the follow-up to this year's previously released Little Rocket EP and 2060 project, Shane dropped by Billboard to discuss making music "ahead of its time" and collaborating with Yachty.
BILLBOARD: You grew up in a musical family. What do you remember of that time?
KODIE SHANE: Well, a long time ago, before I was actually a thought, my sister was in a group, Blaque, that was signed by [industry veteran] Tommy Mottola, but it was Left Eye's group. When my mom and dad were dating at the time, they were doing this whole group thing with his daughter, my sister Brandi, so my mom helped develop them and they stayed at her house. She helped them become a group because [the members] didn't really know each other. They were put together. They had to learn how to gel and just be one. After my mom helped develop them, Left Eye took them to the office and they got signed. It was pretty fire.
Did seeing your sister's success make you want to pursue a career in music too?
Yeah because when I was a baby, they were touring and I was on tour with them. I just grew up and almost had no choice. I could do whatever I wanted to do, but it's like for as long as I can remember, [music was] probably what I was going to do. I wanted to play basketball at one point but not really more than I wanted to entertain. I wouldn't even say just being an artist -- I wanted to entertain.
Were you the kind of daughter who performed at family parties?
Yeah, actually. I remember when I was younger, I was really going to be a singer. [I said] I'm going to dedicate my life to this. Then I did a talent show, in first, second grade and lost it. I practiced my butt off. I did an original song. I was so good -- I had a cowboy hat and everything and then [the judges] told me I was too young after I performed. I was so hurt. I was like I'm never doing music again. I started playing basketball then I kind of got over that.
When did you start taking music seriously?
When I was like 16. People started paying attention, they started liking [my songs]. I had started getting some followers on Instagram low-key. I had another song called "In Ya City" and "Sad" before Yachty was on it. [People] were liking it so I was like, might as well keep it going.
Describe your creative process.
Sometimes I hear a beat, and I just instantly get inspired and start writing. It just keeps coming, like vomiting. Like, wow, this is fire. Or sometimes I just go in the booth and freestyle, just write mentally in my head line for line. It's not like I go in the studio then I light candles and meditate. It's just however we feel that day.
Why'd you call your EP Zero Gravity?
Because I'm still in the future. I'm in [the year] 2060 -- it's no gravity there.
What inspired your obsession with time?
I just feel like I'm ahead of my time as a teenager. My music is a little ahead of its time. "Sad" is old and it's just catching on. I have very few real friends because I don't really feel like I fit in with a lot of people. I never really be with people my age. I just naturally like to be with older people, like [having] more intense conversations. I don't want to just talk about Instagram.
How would you describe the beats you gravitate towards?
I would say they're actually ahead of their time too. I'm so big on the future thing because I feel like all aspects of the music is ahead of its time. I feel like the engineering is just next level. Shout out to [my producers] Matty P and D Klax. The sound is just different. It's fresh, it's new. It's like still waiting to be understood.
Would you say your sound is a mix of different genres?
I would say it's alternative R&B rap.
Who are some of the people that influenced you while growing up?
I'm not going to lie, Bow Wow was fire to me but I really liked Ashanti and Ja Rule. 50 Cent was fire. Dipset was fire. I'm from Chicago so... R Kelly was hella fire. Fabolous was fire, Ludacris was fire. T.I. was the man.
How did you meet LilYachty?
I met Yachty through Coach K because my producer Matty P knew him. I knew Coach K back before I really started, when I first had "Sad." I was at masquerade -- a Lil Yachty show. I don't remember how I got there and I was like, wow, Lil Yachty's lit. Coach was like come meet [Yachty] so that's the first time I was like, "What's up bro?" We part ways, and then Matty called me and was like we need to get Kodie and Yachty in the studio. I initially just wanted him on "Sad" ... so I played it for him and he loved it. I feel like he added something that the record didn't have before. It brought out a different side of him too.
What's the best part about working with him?
He's hilarious. I tell you the worst part. Domino's pepperoni pizza, cinnamon sticks and Mountain Dew everyday. When I was on tour [with him], I had pizza for 20 days. Every show. Pizza boxes stacked up to the ceiling. [But Yachty's] hilarious and super open to try anything. He's like not a ball hog.
What does being a part of Yachty's Sailing Team mean to you?
It's like a family before anything. It's all of us coming together to push each other to be better and just to show the youth that you can do anything you want. And just to give them a group of friends that they can really look up to like wow that'a a friendship. I just want friends like that. That's just the whole thing -- to show people that real friends do exist, and that you don't have to be scared to dye your hair red or wear whatever.
Is there anybody that you're hoping to work with in the future?
This is just a long shot but I definitely would want to work with Frank Ocean. He's the man. Travis is cool. He's the shit. Childish Gambino is too fire, Drake -- those are obviously the people I want to work with but I don't try and press stuff like that. If it happens, it happens. When it happens, it will be right.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I just want people to listen to the music and get something from it, whatever it may be. Whether it's a catchy lyric or a whole situation. I feel like I just want kids to look at me and be like wow, she's really not even scared to just be whoever she wants to be. I feel like that's possible.
What's been an important life lesson you've learned about the industry as an up-and-coming artist?
All I have to say about the industry is [that it's] hurry up and wait but I feel like a lesson is just don't rush anything -- just let it happen. It's God's timing. You got to let it fall in place. Let it happen and relax.
When can we expect a proper debut?
I'm dropping an album in the first quarter. I'm speaking that into existence.
Kodie Shane's Zero Gravity EP is available on iTunes here.