In the old days of rap — think pre-streaming-era or anything before 2010 — every new female rapper that came along had to be associated with a crew to gain any traction. They always had to be the “First Lady Of [X]”; Lil Kim was the official female representative of Bad Boy, Foxy Brown was The Firm’s sole woman, Rah Digga was connected to Flipmode Squad, Remy Ma was Terror Squad’s little sister. The list goes on; Eve, Lauryn Hill, Shawnna, and more were known more by the rapper who’d co-signed them than their own creative output in many cases. Even Nicki Minaj was presented as a member of the burgeoning Young Money crew when she made her debut in late 2000s.
19-year-old Kodie Shane — born Kodie Williams — entered the game in much the same way; discovered by then-teen Atlanta trap sensation Lil Yachty, Kodie was adopted as an official member of Yachty’s Sailing Team collective. However, unlike many of her forebears, whose success was directly and inextricably linked to that of their respective crew/label, Kodie has kept largely to herself, eschewing the attention that would come from the association in favor of a hermetically-sealed, self-sufficient approach that is beginning to pay huge dividends, thanks to the continuing support and guidance of mentors like Yachty and Coach K of Quality Control Records, the Atlanta-based label that’s home to talent like Yachty, Migos, and City Girls.
With that, she’s begun to the grow the small-but-loyal cadre of supporters she cultivated while on tour with the Sailing Team into a rapidly-snowballing fan base hooked on the melodic trap formula she began developing even before working with Yachty. Now, she’s proven to be even more adept at the style than Yachty himself; while Lil Boat’s Teenage Emotions debut received critical confusion, Kodie has only gained momentum from project to project, starting with the 2016 EP Zero Gravity, through to 2017’s Back From The Future and Big Trouble Little Jupiter and culminating on her as-yet-untitled, upcoming Epic Records debut led by the singles “Love & Drugz II” featuring Trippie Redd and “Sing To Her,” the video for which released in the first week of September.
It’s that momentum that attracted Red Bull Music, who chose her to support Bay Area R&B star Kehlani at the brand’s Red Bull Sound Select showcase in Chicago, but it was Kodie’s magnetic energy and exuberant onstage persona that prompted Red Bull to approach her about shooting a mini-documentary covering her return to her hometown of Chicago to play the biggest show yet in her career. She jumped at the chance and Remember The Name was born.
The documentary, which released this past Monday, September 10, details Kodie’s intriguing rise from precocious, slightly insecure teen rapper who wanted to sing inspired by older sister Brandi (Williams, of 2000s R&B trio Blaque) but was too scared to, to fully-fledged, bold, and progressive artist with the help of loyal producer Matty P and her mom, who also manages her. Now, Kodie not only pushes boundaries musically, but sets an example — along with a burgeoning group of artists that includes The Internet’s Syd, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko, and Kehlani herself — for queer representation in music and especially in hip-hop.
With her debut album just over the horizon and her stardom all but assured, now would indeed be the perfect time to make sure that music fans remember her name. I recently had the chance to speak to Kodie about the new Red Bull doc, anticipating her debut album, and how she swapped out her braces for diamonds.