When Cardi B co-signs another artist, the hip-hop industry, and the world at large, people tend to sit up and take notice. Last year, Cardi gave her blessing to Chika, citing the 23-year-old newly-signed Warner Records artist as one of the reasons women in hip-hop are stronger than ever. Just listen to a few of her live performances, and you’ll see exactly what Cardi sees, especially on “Crown,” one of her earliest pieces of work. “‘Crown’ is the first full rap song I ever wrote, and it’s just like anthemic to me,” Chika says of the upbeat track before busting into the track’s playful mix of rapping and singing, accompanied only by acoustic guitar.
Since “Crown” was one of the first tracks the young rapper did, it’s not surprising that she has a couple more complex and boastful songs in her catalogue too — “Balencies” is one of those. Referencing shoes by the iconic Balenciaga high-fashion line, Chika reflects on just how much her life has changed over the course of her career in music. “‘Balencies’ is packed with everything that my brain has thought over this process, me feeling like I’ve lived so much life that my friends haven’t heard about, and like I’m a different person now,” she explained. “I don’t know what life is becoming, but damn I got Balencies in the bathroom.”
And as much as these two songs define Chika, it feels like she’s hitting her stride in a major way on one of the third song she’s been performing, “Songs About You.” Aside from the title, which can be a bit of a double-take for the reader or listener, on this track Chika is embracing the fact that she’s living her dreams instead of grappling with fear or doubt. “I started writing this song in February after the Roc Nation brunch,” she said of the track. “That’s a moment when I was like ‘yo, I’m in the same room as Jay-Z who just shook my hand, and Diddy introduced me as the best of the new school.’ I don’t have a CD out, I don’t have a song out, and I’m in this space. So what is this world about to look like for me. And you genuinely see the progression.”
Taken together, the three songs portray an artist who had the light and vision inside her all along, began to notice the trappings of success all around her, and ultimately realized that standing toe to toe with heroes is a more sustainable measure of progress. Get ready to hear even more from Chika in 2020, as she further settles into her role as one of the next big rappers in the game — female or otherwise.
Chika is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.