Kamaiyah was primed for an All-Star run following her critically acclaimed, 2016 debut mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto. Now in 2020, the Oakland native is stepping out on her own to ensure that she gets the push she deserves. Kamaiyah is looking for an even bigger moment than years passed, but the road has been tumultuous, marred by false starts and controversies surrounding her relationships, both business and personal.
Back in February, Kamaiyah released her latest effort, Got It Made, which is the home of her latest single “Pressure.” Speaking with The Source, Kamaiyah detailed that single is a self-check, and the work to make her career and label a success will have to be executed with patience. She also dives into what went sour with her tenure on YG’s 4HUNNID imprint, the fall out of her friendship with Kehlani, current releases, those that are on the way, and more.
The Source: We see a lot of people working and creating through COVID-19. As far as health and working, how are you doing?
I’m good. I’m as blessed as can be with the tumultuous times going on in the world. I got to count my blessings every day. There are people out there who need help to survive cause they working nine to give and now not able to do that.
On the working end, we just got the video for the “Pressure” single, it’s an anthem and a powerful record where you establish who you are. What inspired you to create that song?
I was just going through a hard time. I really created the record for myself. I needed to hear that. I made the record so I can feel that power through that record because it was just like, I had to reassure myself of other accomplishments. Sometimes I’ll forget how far I’ve come because I’m living in a moment that doesn’t feel like I’m succeeding, but it’s not about where you are right now. It’s about where you came from before you got where you are and I’ll be having to remind myself that.
The video just dropped and it’s crazy, it’s really dope. Did you have a specific vision in your head that you brought to the director? Was it brought to you? How did the concept for what was the final project come?
You know what it was, man? You know, I’m from the same hood as MC Hammer. That was the big inspiration for the video. That’s why we in the alley with the A’s jackets. It’s like shit like that. Like a classic video, man. I know that was dope for Oakland, cause it’s 20, some 30 years later and I’m looking at this shit like, yo, what the fuck? You know, the graphics may be a little choppy because of the era, but it’s just like, how the fuck did he do this? I just thought that was dope. He was dancing in the water and I just always wanted to dance in the water. I just thought that’d be dope.
I think that was though, too, and the Hammer motto, “Too Legit to Quit,” is speaking to yourself again.
Damn. I ain’t even think about that, you put me on there.
I’ve been looking at it and you’re getting love from fans and then contemporaries as well. I’ve seen Megan Thee Stallion threw some flame emoji. Do you find the overall relationship with women rappers right now to be healthier and more supportive than previous beliefs?
Yeah. There’s a lot healthier than our predecessors and they try to make it seem like we all don’t get along. But I think that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I just feel like, you know, when it’s men involved, they try to like hype us up like, “Oh, you better know you better.” And then it creates this false narrative that you got to go at her without you even knowing her. And y’all characteristics. You know how I look at it? Like I don’t even have to know every song, drive, whatever, if you respect me, I respect you. I see you hustling. And I’m showing you love until it’s the issue where you showing disrespect and it ain’t nothing like that. Now it’s acknowledging hustle and get your money, sis.
The way you are releasing music now, you’re doing it on your own and you left your label situation with YG. What led you to want to go in a different direction?
I just was not happy. And I told myself I can’t wake up another day and be miserable. I don’t want to be that person, like 20 years later, wondering what if I would’ve did this? No, I’m going to take advantage of the situation now cause I ain’t getting no younger. So I did it, and it was respectable. I’m just like, yo, this ain’t working for me. I got to feed my family.
It was a situation where my project had been pushed back and kept getting pushed back. And I told them, I warned them, if y’all do it again, I’m leaving. I pre-warned you that if this happened again, that I wasn’t going to remain unhappy. I’m not going to keep sitting here fighting y’all to put out music. That should never be the case. I should just be able to release whenever I fucking feel like it. I don’t care if you don’t like my single, if I say this is it, let me shoot that shot. And if I brick, at least I know I shot this shot and tried. I never got the opportunity to have a national campaign. It was always held up. And that was my issue, I’m seeing everybody else get their shots. Every time that I feel like I’m about to get mine, it gets called away from me. And that in itself is the depression that you’re building in a person because it makes you feel like our creativity isn’t good enough. And you know how it fucks with your mental receptors? It’s like, if your dad tells you, I’m about to come to pick you up and you sitting outside waiting and a nigga never come. So I had to get up out of there.
Hearing you describe it right now, it doesn’t seem like it was a hard conversation or a decision for you, but how do you think that relationship between you and YG is now?
It’s definitely severed because you know like I said, other people have their own vision for their business. At the end of the day, I feel like that’s the complications that come with an artist trying to have an artist, right? Because they try to build it based upon their feelings and what they want for themselves. When you sign an artist, it’s not about what you want for that artist and their career. You should want them to reach their full height. Whatever it takes to get them there, you got to put your all into making that happen. And that’s why I feel like Wayne is one of the greatest CEOs because he never stood in the way of Drake or Nicki becoming bigger than him. And I’m like, man, that ain’t about you. It’s about what I want and how I see my career flourishing. And I wasn’t given that opportunity.
When you make that a statement about Wayne when his artists shine it kind of showed shine back on how great he was.
Cash Money has run entertainment for two decades. So that speaks volumes of the characteristics of who’s the head over it. Cause it’s like, you know, Wayne was created through Birdman, and from there he created Nicki and Drake, which are still two of the biggest artists in the world right now. Like Drake is the number one Hip-Hop artist in the world from the other number one Hip-Hop artist in the world. So it’s like the lineage itself speaks, you know, that they did so much historically for Hip-Hop that you got to respect it.
Now that you’re free and working on your own imprint with GRNDWRK, what goals do you have for that imprint going forward? And what have you learned and are currently learning from being the head of your own movement?
I’m learning to just have patience and in order for me to even have a successful label, I have to be successful. And that’s not going to happen overnight. Like people look at my history and think that because of the things that I’ve accomplished in the past affect me presently. I feel like I have to be in the momentum of the world right now because I took the four-year deficit. I accomplished so much in my first year. And for three years I wasn’t able to do anything. So in order for me to get back cracking, it’s gonna take half of that time. So I may not get a hit record for two years and I’m okay with that.
So I have to ask you about this one too. Another relationship, for those who aren’t privy to your everyday life and get updates from headlines or wherever we got on it on Instagram, it was like a rift between you and Kehlani. A lot of people believe that it was based on a collaborative project or single with Keyshia Cole and it led to alleged death threats or other issues.
There was never any death threats and that’s the one thing that I definitely want to clear up. I don’t do Internet or social media. Even when I address it, I addressed it one time and whatever people said about me after that, that was their own opinions. Like I know these people in real life, but I had never in my life threatened that girl’s life. Now what I did do was threaten to whoop her ass. I’m not going to take back from that. And that’s what I apologize for.
Some people can’t handle that pressure. So they’re going to make it seem like it’s something completely different from what it was to fit their narrative. She said I said I was going to shoot up her house, which has never occurred. That’s on my dead brother, my brother died four years ago from cancer. I would never in my life threaten to shoot up an R&B singer’s house. My nigga, I am from the streets. So like, do you honestly think that it’s that serious for me to shoot up an R&B singer’s house and jeopardize my lifestyle and what I built on my career, is it really that serious? No, it was never that serious, but you know, that’s the narrative of the people went with because they’re manipulative. They like to play the victim. And that’s just what it was because I’m not about to go back and forth on the internet. I politely said what happened. I told them our differences and what occurred and I stepped back, they kept going. And the person who keeps talking typically has the most cover up right?
Was there any reconciliation or any conversation behind closed doors or it is what it is at this point?
We haven’t spoken since before all of that, you know what I’m saying? I’m big on respect, integrity, and morality. So I feel like if you’ve wronged me, apologize. Take the ego out of it, be humble and modest, and say I did something wrong and I would have respected that. The issue was, there was no sense of respect in that friendship towards the end, due to the relationship she had with my prior CEO.
So that was a big fraction of the risk that people don’t get to see. That played a part in a lot of the issues. I stopped being respected as a friend when I was a friend with you before any of this. Cause you feel like, this is going to ride with me. And then actually never been a case. If you really consider me a sister, they should’ve been like, “yo, we’ve been working on this. Let’s make sure this happened.” And I told her that when I left, you know, “Hey, let’s make sure we keep this copasetic.” It didn’t go that way. So that was a big fraction of the risk that people don’t get to see. That played a part in a lot of the issues. I stopped being respected as a friend when I was a friend with you before any of this. Cause you feel like, this is going to ride with me. And then actually never been a case. If you really consider me a sister, they should’ve been like, “yo, we’ve been working on this. Let’s make sure this happened.” And I told her that when I left, like, you know, like, “Hey, let’s make sure we keep this copasetic.” It didn’t go that way. And the business started getting weird with her. That’s how the project ended up not coming out. The record came out because they forced it. I could put it out because legally I can do that but it’s no positive energy in it. I care more about respect, love, honesty and that’s more important to me when I go to sleep at night, am I happy? I don’t wish no negativity on nobody. I made peace with the situation and grown past it.
With that wrapped up, you have been supporting a lot of the activism that was going on in the past three months. On a personal level, how did everything going on from George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and everything all across the country personally affects you and impact your spirit?
I feel like the climate in a world is kind of traumatizing, being a Black woman in America, and just seeing how we are being killed like animals. You see the people marching and all that shit on every channel, every channel, every channel, every channel and it’s is like, yo, we’ve been doing this for fucking centuries. Then you’re trying to go to sleep at night after you watch all this shit and you hear it sound like a fucking war zone. People were letting off fireworks and all that type of shit. It’s troubling to know that at any given moment I can go outside and I’m hearing like this crazy shit. I see how people come from like Wars feel when they go home and they came to depth to be normal again. Cause that’s how I feel like how are we going to be normal again after witnessing this? Cause it’s like, no matter what we do, y’all show us, we don’t matter. Like it’s going to always be another George Floyd because, before that, it was the Tamir Rice. It was Oscar Grant. It was Trayvon Martin. Until these people actually effectively change the laws to matter for everybody and not them, it will never be any equality. Everybody understands the world and what’s going on for real, knowing that shit was even created to control people after slavery. That’s what the police was forward. You couldn’t keep us as slaves. So the new slave system is prison. So I’m going to throw you here and make you work for me again and make pennies on the fucking dollar.
Along the same time of Black pain, there was Black pride and celebration. For you, we got the “Black Excellence” single and video. How did you channel that energy into the booth?
In all honesty, “Black Excellence” was created two, three months before all this happened. And I actually postponed it for two or three weeks because I didn’t want to look thirsty. I just went outside and I went to a couple of little marches cause I just wanted to feel the energy. And you know, it was interesting to me because I felt like as much as Black people say, we love each other and we fight for each other, it’s different when you out there and seeing other races fight for us too.
Do you have a project or future releases in mind now that those pieces are floating?
I have a project coming out within about a month and a half. It’s a collaborative project. It’s going to be a standout moment in my career because I had fun doing it. I feel like it’s going to make a lot of sense for my culture. I will also continue to show the type of woman I am and what I’m standing for. I’m big on ownership and dependency and just women taking back what’s theirs. We are the rulers and the controllers that it’s over. We are the mothers of nature and we just got to own our power and that’s what I’m doing.