AU senior and rapper, Kiki.D’s music continues to grow in quarantine
‘Solid,’ Kiki.D’s EP released last fall, gives her confidence to push forward
Twenty-one-year-old rapper, Kiki.D — pronounced Kiki D — wants her name to be known in the music industry.
“I chose my stage name one day when I was in the studio and I started doing this chant ‘it's your girl... kiki dot d,’” Kiki.D said in a clarification email to The Eagle. “It was catchy and made it easy to differentiate me from others who may have similar nicknames as me.”
Kiki.D goes by that name in her music, in her personal life and in the classroom.
“I always was big on respect in a way,” Kiki.D said in a phone interview. “I don't even need to have rapped for you. If you can just get my name right, that would mean a lot. I could see as I got older, it started to really matter to me.”
“Those who call me anything else do it because they want to, not because they should,” Kiki.D also wrote in an email.
Kiki.D released her EP “Solid” in November 2020. The EP has songs about “romance, dependability, disappointment and dedication,” according to her website.
Even though Kiki.D released the EP in 2020, not all of the songs were written in that year. Kiki.D said that she wrote “Pretty Python” her sophomore year. “You Chose To,” she wrote and recorded in her house during quarantine. “Woke Walk” was a “beautiful half and half,” as she put it. She recorded half of the song during her freshman year and then revisited it during quarantine, adding a part to the chorus and the featured artist.
While Kiki.D said that she does not think as many people have interacted with her EP as they might have before the pandemic, it gave her confidence to move forward in pursuing new opportunities.
“I learned a recent statistic that says seven times they have to see you to want to engage,” Kiki.D said. “So I just put out seven songs. That EP, no matter how many eyes see it, that is gonna be one out of the seven times that they see me.”
While Kiki.D said she did not intentionally put seven songs on her EP to go along with the statistic, the sentiment still stands. She’s taking this time to be strategic and to build her catalog.
The building of a rap career
One of Kiki.D’s fondest memories from her music career is when she performed to a sold-out crowd at Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe in 2019. She recalled that it was a nice size venue and a really engaged crowd.
Gabe Hultberg, another AU senior in the School of Communication, organized the event.
“What was also beautiful about the show, not just, the show, but the preparation for it,” Kiki.D said. “It felt very team-oriented. … It's not some random 30-year-old or 40-year-old man or woman that booked me and that's fine, too. But, when it's your network, when it’s your peers, when it’s the people that are your same age that's really awesome to see and know that that's how you guys spent your time.”
For Kiki.D, a lot comes back to time. If quarantine during the pandemic has done anything for her, it’s given her time to reflect and further her rap career. Before the pandemic, Kiki.D did not rewrite songs often. She said that in the past she may have done a four hour recording session and then get a completed song at the end of it without the chance to edit.
Now, she is being thoughtful with what she wants her songs to sound like by the end and rewrites when necessary because “once you use the beat, you use the beat. Once you play the show, you play the show,” she said.
Kiki.D also intentionally keeps her songs expletive-free.
“It's clean, but that doesn't just mean it's for younger ages or one specific demographic,” Kiki.D said. “If you love music that doesn't have to necessarily degrade anybody to make their point, you're likely going to appreciate the fact that there aren't those typical curse words in the song.”
Kiki.D is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, where she started her journey as an independent hip-hop artist with an interest in representing underdogs.
“Boston is not necessarily the first music city that anybody thinks of, [and] women aren't necessarily the first that anybody thinks of depending on respective fields,” Kiki.D said. “But being that I have these combinations, being a Black woman and all, there are so many ways that I'm often put as second or not even thought of, and that's what kind of pushes me to really pursue this career as a music artist.”
Kiki.D’s music is primarily hip-hop, a genre she resonates with because of its motivational lyrics associated with it.
“I like moving, grooving and being able to jump and feel free, and I feel like melodies do that for me,” Kiki.D said.
Kiki.D said that she started by listening to beats and instrumentals of her favorite songs. From there, she would freestyle over those songs and appreciate the pieces that made the songs. “That's where I was like, ‘wow, hip-hop, I really want to put my mark in it,’” she said.
As a freshman in high school, Kiki.D joined the Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club of Boston, an organization that helps young people build character and gain skills to be future leaders.
She said joining the club was the first time that she could really focus on music as her career. Kiki.D was signed in a hip-hop band called “Studio Heat.” In the organization, she worked on her music and production, saying that it was a “privilege those four years before college.”
Kiki.D’s first mixtape called “Unpredictable Girl” can’t be found online. She credits her “Substance Over Style,” a 10-song mixtape that she released when she was 16-17 years old, as what started her on the path to becoming the artist she is today. Around that age, she started creating the cover art for her songs and gained more experience with adding other artists to her work.
“Substance Over Style” is also one of Kiki.D’s mottos.
“I’m not into just being flashy and being shallow,” Kiki.D said. “I want to give people a home where they can think deeply, a home where they can really experience the music, not just for what it sounds like, but what's actually changing in the world. Everyone has small worlds around them, so it doesn't have to be this big global change.”
In a male-dominated industry, Kiki.D’s gender identity is also formative in her brand.
“If I can help women, simply just by being confident as a woman, I think that's going to be how I continue to navigate this male-dominated industry,” Kiki.D said.
Up next for the May 2021 graduate
As for the future of the music industry, Kiki.D wants to see improvements in data access. According to Kiki.D, many artists complain about streaming and data. Some artists do not know if they are being represented on data, which makes it difficult for lesser-known artists to get a chance to become famous.
She said that she thinks it’s important to show “the legends and gatekeepers” that “as students of the game, we are learning. We are paying homage. We are doing that research and [showing] why we should be next up, but it's hard to be seen because of the clutter.”
“I think people will feel more confident with getting on a younger artist’s song or a newer artist's song or whatnot, if they were able to better see who's really been there and who’s really done the work.”
Kiki.D described herself as the kind of person that wants to give people jobs and create memories while doing it.
“I don't want to just do this to have a statue in a museum one day myself,” Kiki.D said. “It would be really nice to say that I built with like-minded people. … If I could work with these people, and that's going to require me to get my money up so I can pay these people, it's going to require me to take risks.”
Where Kiki.D will be next is still unknown as she prepares to graduate in May 2021. She is trying to determine if she will move somewhere and then apply for a job or if she will apply for a job and then move somewhere.
“Every day we’re writing our stories,” Kiki.D said. “So yeah, I'm nervous. I'm nervous for the future. But, it's just no better time than now.”