Oakland, Calif.’s finest Kamaiyah is back in the spotlight, with the same unshakable confidence the rapper has always come with. Her latest project, Got It Made, dropped Feb. 21, rewarding fans who have been faithfully bumping her previous project, 2017’s Before I Wake.
The new music is a love letter to the streets that raised her, as she inserts Bay Area influences and features heavily throughout the project, never straying from her signature West Coast sound. The fifth track, “1-800-IM-HORNY,” features not only a flip of Too Short’s classic “Shake That Monkey” beat, but also includes an appearance from the Oakland legend himself for a skit in the beginning of the song.
For her “modern bounce” record “Get Ratchet,” she tag teams with J. ESPINOSA, a DJ who’s made a name for himself in the Bay Area. To top it off, she also featured Capolow, a rising Bay Area rapper she believes in, on the project.
Although Kamaiyah thrives on being unapologetically prideful about being the star of her own show and not needing the help of others — as anthems such as “Pressure” clearly show — she also mastered the balance of knowing when to take a step back and let others shine … and even outshine her. On Got It Made’s single “Set It Up,” she locked down a feature from the legendary Trina and made sure she stole the show.
“That’s old Trina right there. That’s baddest b—-h Trina,” Kamaiyah says. “The song was orchestrated to where she outshined me. She needed that just due because she’s the queen.”
Kamaiyah stopped by Billboard to talk about the new release, Oakland, and music being her form of therapy. Check out the full interview below.
In your Billboard interview back in in 2018, you said you weren’t nervous about how your upcoming release would be received because “if you f–k with it, you f–k with it,” and you refuse to let the pressure get to you. For Got It Made, does this sentiment still stand?
Yup. It was the same theory. I make conceptualized bodies of work from beginning to end. I’ve also learned since then that less is more. That’s why it’s only 10 records, with an intro and an outro, because I really got to it in those 10 records. I didn’t have to give you, like, 17 or 18 to get my point across. I feel like a lot of the time, when people go long, it’s a bunch of bulls–t. You’re giving everybody so many fillers, and you might catch one. I try to make a small body of work, and each and every song is a hit.
Speaking of hits, I’m sure you’re already aware your song “F–k It Up” is pretty much running the youth on TikTok right now.
See, that’s what I mean when I say good music is timeless. That came out four years ago and it’s just now going viral. It’s not on your time, it’s on God’s timing. What’s meant to be will happen if you trust in your process, and so I don’t rush anything. This is a moment. I just let it happen when it’s supposed to happen. I actually don’t know what made it happen and where this originated from, but we just know people at TikTok was hitting us up like, “Yo, this s–t is going up right now.”
My personal favorite on Got It Made is “Pressure” because it’s about how you f–k with yourself so heavy. Was this level of confidence a new height for you or is this just overall who you’ve always been?
Overall, and that record is just an overall “You got me f–ked up if you think I need you” type of record. I don’t need s–t. I got me and God got me, and that’s what this song is about. I feel like people always tell you what you gotta do, and you gon’ need this and you’re gonna need to do that. The world makes you feel like you need somebody to make you somebody. No. If you’re a good person, people are gonna help you and assist you on your path, but you create your own destiny, ultimately. People make you feel like you need them, and no the f–k I clearly don’t. If I love myself, I’m gonna get myself to where I need to go. Period.
How did you come up with “1-800-IM-Horny”?
That was just on some raunchy s–t. It’s literally me just thinking of some crazy a– s–t and making it into a hit. I feel like all my studio sessions for this were memorable because it’s the first time I went in there with, like, three or four people. I feel like A Good Night in the Ghetto was like a gangster party in each studio session. This project was orchestrated in, like, a week and a half, and I was locked in and focused like the studio was my office.
Was “Set It Up” with Trina a crazy studio session as well?
For that one, the song was made and she sent it back to me. I been knowing Trina for, like, four or five years. She’s one of the first people I’ve met when I came into this business. We had a relationship for all this time [and] when I created the record, I felt like it needed to be either Trina or the City Girls. Me being respectful of the culture and the lineage of who created the culture and I already had that relationship with her [made it] easy for me to reach out and get that verse back. That’s old Trina right there.
I watched the video you did with All Def Music a while ago where you became a therapist for a day. I was thinking the whole time how it seemed so natural for you. Where do you think that comforting nature comes from?
I think it’s because I just got an old soul. Also, I took psychology classes because that was my major in college, so it was either I would do music or be a psychologist. That video was about what my plan B would be, and I’ve always wanted to be a therapist, but I wouldn’t say that’s still my plan B now. Why would I do that if I got this music career? I also feel like I’ve combined the two because music is a huge form of therapy. You make records to get through your problems or whatever mood you’re in. I could create that atmosphere through my music. What’s funny is that guy from the video, he’s really legit my therapist now.
How are you feeling about the rising artists from the Bay Area, like Offset Jim, ALLBLACK, Guapdad 4000, and Elujay?
I been knew Offset Jim since before this music s–t, back when he was just James and he’s the homie. Same thing with ALLBLACK, and I been knew Akeem’s (Guapdad) a–. Elujay’s music is eclectic and different. Oakland is so small, your momma and your daddy really knew each other if you’re really from Oakland, and if you were really a n—a that was outside, y’all knew each other.
Oakland, we are the mecca. Everyone gets influenced by what we do. This is the center of it. We’re in the middle, and everything around it copies and gravitates around that. You know how the Earth rotates around the sun? We the sun.
You’ve been through a lot personally as your career gained traction, like the death of your brother and label issues. What was your life looking like a year ago today?
I was depressed. He died 2016 April and I was going through a depression because I never really got to really deal with any of that stuff. I never understood how to handle success, so I’m battling losing someone I’m with every day and then it’s, like, for two three years, I gotta go go go. Everyone around me is like, “You can’t stop.” It was like my career was going upwards, but personal life was going downwards.
I’m 100 percent in a better place and I have ownership of what I’m doing. I stepped away from everything that was making me unhappy without worrying about the repercussions of it or how it made someone else feel. For the first time in my life, I’m being selfish for the right reasons. I would always give give give, but when you do that, what do you have left? You’re empty. You have this depletion now and nobody cares when you’re depleted because they’re energized. So I had to step away from everything that was depleted. I’m glad about the progress I made.
Musically, I’m nowhere near the peak I want to be at, but me as Kamaiyah, I’m 100 percent happy.