22-year-old Alabama rapper Jane Oranika — professionally known as Chika — has only been signed to a major label for about a week, but she is already well on the way to national stardom in that time thanks in large part to a combination of forces that includes Kanye West, Lena Waithe, Jermaine Dupri, and Cardi B. Although she’s only been pursuing rap as a career for around two years, she has since gone viral on social media multiple times thanks to her stunning freestyle skill (garnering celebrity co-signs from the likes of Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, and Jada Pinkett Smith along the way), performed a stirring political ode on national television, and received a huge co-sign from one of rap music’s biggest female stars. It’s time to get familiar with Chika because she is about to blow up in a big way.
Ironically, Chika only recently released her second single, “High Rises,” in celebration of her newly-signed deal with Warner Records. She posted the song’s inspirational video shortly after the announcement, then went right back to doing the thing that got her this far: Sharing in the moment with her jubilant fans, many of whom have followed her since her very first viral freestyle. Then, when Jermaine Dupri fixed his lips to demean female rappers, saying they all rap about the same thing, Cardi B checked him by name-checking Chika among the likes of Rapsody and Tierra Whack.
Uproxx had the opportunity to talk with Chika by phone just before last Thursday’s female rapper shenanigans, covering her viral freestyles, her moving appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, her new record deal, and what the future holds. Suddenly, it looks very much as if the past two years of grinding have paid off — Chika has arrived.
In doing the research on you, I kind of realized that a lot of people seem to try to define you through their own lens. I guess the first question I kind of want to ask you is: Who is Chika?
I think, to sum it up, I’m an artistic kid who didn’t really have a place until I found music, and I got lucky. And now, here I am. That’s the long and short of it really.
Why do you think that you found a home in rap of all the genres and of all the artistic outlooks you could have chosen?