The beginning of Chika's journey to the top began seven years ago, when, on a whim, she began occasionally uploading covers to YouTube and SoundCloud of popular songs, like Ed Sheeran's "The A Team," or The Neighborhood's "Sweater Weather." Starting as a hobby, Chika's uploads slowly began to morph from covers to original pieces, including poetry, raps and songs, all written, produced and recorded herself.
That switch wasn't foreign to Chika, though. The star had been singing since she was little, wrote her first song when she was 9 years old, and began taking rap seriously as early as age 12. "It was one of those things where, eventually, there was just a natural transition," she says.
She kept uploading throughout high school, and in her first year attending the University of South Alabama. But in 2017, one year into her education, Chika knew that she wasn't in the right place -- she felt like her time was being wasted when she could be pursuing her dream career.
So, at 20 years old, she sat her parents down, and explained to them that she was interested in dropping out to apply her time to breaking into the music industry. They said they would give her one year out of school to work on her career, and if she didn't make it, she would re-enroll. "My parents were like 'Girl, you ain't playing? You know what you're doing?'" she recalls, chuckling. "They looked at me like, 'I ... guess? Like, we hope things are going to work out to you.' After that, I got to watch how quickly their faces changed."
Out of school and searching for studio time, Chika continued uploading her raps to Instagram and Twitter, now usually layered over existing songs, in order to keep her creative juices flowing. But within three months of taking on music full time, the rapper suddenly saw that her clips were starting to go viral, getting her the attention she needed to propel her forward.
One of the early examples of that success came with "Proud," her remake of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," where Chika used the repeating strains of Sheeran's hit song to send out a battle cry to the LGBTQ community during Pride Month 2017. "No, you will not tear me down/ No, my heart will not be bound/ Singing loud, say it loud, I’m Proud," she sang on the song's chorus.
The moment was significant for Chika — the star had never hidden her queer identity from friends, family or fans. She never felt a need to "come out" to those around her, but regularly rapped about the women she used to date. Even still, she says that "Proud" felt like an important moment for her to make a statement.