The sun softly danced and dazzled upon Kash Doll‘s crystal-adorned bodysuit as she graced the Rolling Loud stage in Los Angeles this past December. Performing fan favorites such as “Ice Me Out,” “For Everybody” and “Check” like the true boss chick that she is, Kash Doll had the entire crowd mesmerized by her presence — and so was I.
The Detroit rap star, born Arkeisha Knight, has been making major moves ever since releasing her Keisha vs. Kash Doll mixtape in 2014 and viral remix to Tinashe’s “2 On” off Trapped In The Dollhouse. As a supporter, it was extremely therapeutic to watch a strong and powerful woman like her, revel in retribution from her ex-music label BMB Records, at one of the biggest music festivals in America.
Understand, Kash Doll has been through hell because of BMB. Outside of her loyal Kash Bratz fanbase (mostly made of teens), Kash Doll’s relevance in the hip-hop game has been a slightly confusing one for those unfamiliar with her magnetic Motor City reign.
Kash Doll’s trajectory has been quite impressive, to say the least, for an artist who had to go through a nasty legal battle with their label. In 2016, Drake slid into her Instagram DMs to personally ask that she open up his Summer Sixteen Tour and last September, Rihanna slid into her DMs just to gift her some pieces from her Savage x Fenty lingerie collection. A few weeks later, she opened up for Beyonce’s On The Run II Tour in San Diego. Kash also turned over a fire verse for Big Sean’s Hot 100 hit “So Good.”
With so many wins at hand, I’ve often wondered, why hasn’t Kash Doll popped into mainstream popularity yet? She has the looks and more importantly, the exceptional rhymes which make her music as honest as it is relatable. When I need to get into grind mode, I put on Kash Doll. She gracefully kept it together while being held hostage by BMB Records for nearly two years and that alone has inspired me to push through adversity when the odds seem to be stacked against me. On more than one occasion, her music was exactly what I needed to hear as encouragement to stop crying over boys and as a consolation, to get some money instead.
So, when the opportunity to interview her at Rolling Loud popped up, I wanted all in. I had to thank her for the lyrical words of wisdom and naturally, I wanted to sip on all the tea surrounding that shady record deal she signed as an impressionable 24-year-old.
Though my press pass didn’t necessarily grant me access to the exclusive artist area of Rolling Loud, somehow I was able to make it to her room without the proper credentials. Upon arrival, her publicist ushered me to a sofa where I would be able to ask Kash Doll anything I wanted to know. She greeted me with a warm hug and I thanked her for agreeing to have this conversation with me. The first thing I had to ask was: How does it feel to be free?
“Amazing!” she replies with a huge sigh of relief. “I just feel like… so refreshed. I’m happy. It’s all I wanted it. I didn’t know any better and they weren’t doing anything for my career so I decided to not want to work with them anymore and it was hell ever since then. I was fighting a case for two years and every time I put something out, they took it down.”
“They were spiteful,” she shared of her time on the now-defunct music label. “They were happy that they had some type of power and some people don’t know how to handle that. You can give a person too much power. Watch who you give power to because some people can do the right thing and some people can f*ck you over. It’s all my fault, but I learned from it and I am happy.”
For a brief moment, I was able to genuinely bond with Kash and was overwhelmed by the happiness of freedom — me, as a supporter, and for her, as an artist. The rebirth of Kash Doll is underway, and it’s time for everyone to know why this Detroit rap queen is the one.
While BMB seemingly played games with her career, a variety of younger “dolls” began to appear in the form of DreamDoll, Cuban Doll and Asian Doll. But, don’t get it twisted, Kash Doll is, in fact, the reigning queen of all Dolls. A pioneer, so to speak.
“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling confident and I ain’t thinking about nobody but me,” she says of her influence. “Salute to all the ladies but I’m thinking about Kash Doll because Kash Doll gets to do her finally. I’m happy because I’ve been out for a minute. I’ve been out since 2014 before there really was a lot of girls.”
Since the aforementioned rappers carry Kash Doll’s ubiquitous last name, subsequently, she is unfairly lumped into the same category as the rest of them. Lazily categorizing her with the other “dolls” is ultimately a failed recognition of her exquisite storytelling abilities, strong stage presence and choice of lyrical content.
“I’m not trying to sound arrogant but I put a lot into this,” she says with a smile. “I was stuck for two years and we couldn’t do anything. I can’t argue with somebody that hasn’t been through what I been through and still put up the numbers I put up. It’s nothing to me. What are we talking about? It’s nothing against anyone, we just ain’t on the same court. We are in the same game, but we ain’t on the same court.”
See, Kash Doll raps of opulence and getting the bag by any means necessary. Her music is made for women who are in love with the hustle and unapologetic about it. It’s filled with affirmations, energized by intelligent words, and gives permission to go and get that bankroll.
“I get anything I want / Everything I want / Any bag I want (I ain’t playing with you broke b*tches!),” she chants with on the hypnotizing hook of “I Want” off her 2018 mixtape Brat Mail. “I get everything I want / Anything I want / Any whip I want / (I ain’t playing with you broke bitches!)”
While some may find Kash Doll’s braggadocio way of rhyming a turn-off, I find it motivational. If Young Jeezy and Rick Ross can spit luxury drug raps, bragging about all the mansions and fancy cars they’ve acquired by hustling, why wouldn’t it be appropriate for Kash Doll to do it and get the same praise? She’s a former stripper who once made over $25,000 in one night, after all.
“I like to motivate women,” she says. “I can only make music for me and women like me because obviously if you like me you got something in common with me. I like being beautiful, I like getting money, I like dressing nice, I like men and that’s what I rap about. I can’t be anybody but me. That’s it.”
Getting the respect and love from celebrity heavyweights such as Beyonce, Drake, Rihanna, Rick Ross and Big Sean without a major label says a lot about her talent in and of itself. One of her most impactful records is titled “For Everybody” and it makes her sold-out audiences go crazy, who all passionately along rap along as she spits about the familiar saga of side chick versus wifey.
“It’s just confirmation that this is real life,” she says of the song’s influence and whose music video boasts over 18 million views on Youtube. “This is what happens. People like real sh*t and I’m a real chick. I forgot that people understand it’s real life sh*t that happens every day with men, women, side chicks and wives. It’s just confirmation that, that stuff is still going on and I was just happy that people vibe with me like that. I just really be happy that people vibe with me.”
The visual itself adopts inspiration from the 1998 hood classic film Belly. Taken from the movie, there’s an infamous moment when Tommy’s (DMX) side chick Kionna, played by Murda Inc’s Vita, calls his girlfriend, Keisha (Taral Hicks), just to chastise her about having sexual relations with him. Kash Doll expertly plays both roles in her rendition of the iconic scene as she raps from the perspective of both side chick and wife.
“Girl, I did that at my house,” she reveals. “That was my house. I have a five-bedroom house in Atlanta and we did that there. My friends came over and the videographer is like my brother.”
And that is the true spirit of a hustler. It’s what makes Kash Doll’s existence essential because she’s not just “rapping” without purpose. It’s evidence of Ms. Knight standing tall in her slick lyricism, which encourages ownership, good credit, and a deservingly rich lifestyle — whether stripping or otherwise. Authenticity turns into credibility, which goes a long way in the music industry and separates the wannabes from the real.
“We’re both from the Midwest,” she says. “She’s from Chicago and I’m from Detroit. We’ve been cool for a minute and she hit me up and was like I want you to hop on this. I hopped on it quick, of course, because it’s Dreezy and she makes hits. It was fire so I laced it right quick and sent it back. We got together. We went out to eat when I came out here, we vibed, we did the video and everything else is history.”
In fact, “Chanel Slides” is among one of Kash Doll’s favorite features that she’s delivered, as well as her explicit verse on Big Sean’s “So Good.”
“I can’t pick [one feature] because I do hometown stuff that I love and you know how you have to love your hometown music. I like my features with Young Dolph, Shy Glizzy and Trina, too,” she says of the many collabs she’s done. “All of them. If I get on a song I have to like it. I don’t get on songs because people pay me, I have to like the song. It has to be between Big Sean and Dreezy.”
So, what’s next for one and only Kash Doll?
“Album,” she says with excitement. “A tour and a mini-movie. I’m being me and being free so everything is coming. Photoshoots, documentaries… I just want people to get to know who I am.”
When Kash Doll uttered the word “album” I wanted to know the release date, but then she tells me she’s pregnant and she’s due to give birth in the spring. I cocked my head to the side, puzzled and looked over her damn-near perfect physique with no baby bump in sight.
“Excuse me?” I ask, in befuddlement.
“I’m being a mother to my album,” she clarifies with a sly smirk. “I’m probably like five months right now.”
After a brief moment of silence to digest the news, I bust out into laughter, telling her that she plays entirely too much.
“I do!” she laughs hysterically in agreement.
April. That’s when all the Bratz and new fans alike will be able to experience the rebirth of Kash Doll. It’s been a long time coming and no one deserves to have this moment more than her.