Back in 2016, the California rapper Kamaiyah released one of the most exciting debut mixtapes of the year. A Good Night in the Ghetto put the then security guard on the map, with its clear love of 90s hip-hop and R&B: think fluid beats that meld new jack swing and gangsta-funk, topped with a joyful singsong delivery. Kamaiyah quickly became a need-to-know name, appearing alongside Drake on a YG track that same year.
The 27-year-old had intended to put out her debut album around that time, but due to label issues regarding sample clearances, she instead dropped a surprise second tape independently in 2017: the much-lauded, more downbeat Before I Wake, which seemed to vent some of her industry frustrations. Kamaiyah was also listed in the XXL Freshman Class of 2017, an annual namecheck of some of the hottest new names in rap.
A steady stream of tracks followed (including one with Tyga and Quavo), and now Kamaiyah has released a new full-length project, the mixtape Got It Made. Initial single Set It Up puts aside the melodic delivery for bouncy brashness, as she and Miami rapper Trina fiercely castigate the men who have wronged them. It feels like there’s a renewed confidence here, and though Kamaiyah has undoubtedly been one to watch since she first appeared on the scene, things seem to be coming together at last.
Kamaiyah’s Got It Made is out now on Grnd.Wrk/Empire