At the Nouveau Casino in Paris on March 20th during the final stop on Kilo Kish and The Internet’s European tour, fewer words could downright describe the unnerving charm on display–an achievement which may be unfamiliar for some at a rap concert. Kish grabbed the mic, clad in effortless chic, with her soft, innocent demeanor, confidently driving the audience in rhyme. The Orlando-born, Brooklyn-based, multi-platform rapper has been creating art for most of her life, whether it be designing apparel, crafting rugs, drawing, or making music, she’s addicted to doing everything herself and refuses to stop working.
Kish originally moved to New York City in 2008 to attend one of the state’s premier private art schools, the Pratt Institute. After dealing with amounting financial difficulties, Kish took her junior year off, one of the many sporadic, inadvertent series of events that led to her budding music career. In that year she worked as an intern, in retail, modeled, and became roommates with her longtime friend, Justin Scott, a k a A$AP Snacks, who is simultaneously A$AP Mob‘s official DJ and Kilo Kish’s manager.
While living with Scott, Kish became friends with rapper/producer Smash Simmons as well as Mels McCloud. Soon the three began makings music under the moniker, Kool Kats Klub. Out of the their Brooklyn apartment studio, the group essentially came into fruition out of an amalgamation of boredom, creativity, good friends, and level-headed music minds. In other words, naturally. Mels McCloud made beats while Kish and Simmons spontaneously wrote rhymes and rapped.
After returning to the Pratt Institute, transferring, and graduating from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology last year, Kish’s music became her primary focus. Becoming more and more comfortable onstage, Kish began crafting a unique, honest, melodic sound laced with her smooth, simplistic delivery. In April 2012 she linked with Odd Future affiliate/The Internet’s Matt Martian and The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s Hal Williams to put out her first official EP, Homeschool. After making some minimal noise in the New York scene, the nine-track EP truly got Kish’s name buzzing around blogs, publications, and other artist collaborations. Homeschool got her a spot on Complex’s Best Album’s of 2012, the cover of The Village Voice, and a video premiere on The Fader. With dynamic production spanning from jazzy backed samples to ambient synth experimentals, Kish dabbles with her demeanor and flow to match each beat. What started as a half-serious creative side project to pass the time quickly turned Kilo Kish into a full-fledge, buzz-worthy artist.
As the one-year anniversary of Homeschool approaches, it’s merely awe-inspiring, simply unreal to look at the vast amount of work that Kish has produced in the past year. Since the release, Kish has worked on projects with The Jet Age of Tomorrow, The Internet, Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, and the Flatbush Zombies, as well as continuously producing her own work. On Feb. 7, 2013 Kish released K+, a wide-eyed, multifaceted hip-hop project, stuffed with madlib’d conversations, crisp production, lengthy collaborations, and structured, confident rhyming. Or as she put it in her promo video, “K+ is my multi-media art project between friends, which aims to chronicle the creative process when it comes to writing and recording music.” K+ is wholly representative of the innovative New York hip-hop scene that Kish is a part of, with the supporting help of Childish Gambino, Jesse Boykins III, Flatbush Zombies, Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Ferg, Vince Staples, and The Madbury Club’s Phillip Annand. It’s wild musically and culturally to think of all these heads on the same project, and for them all to be behind Kilo Kish is enough of a reason to pay attention.
Walking out on the Paris stage, she’s innocent and unassuming, despite the images of sharks projected behind her. Her best friend, doppelganger, and on-stage DJ began spinning tracks from Homeschool and K+ and the show took off. Going through almost every verse from K+, save for the features, she rapped passionately into the mic. With an R&B vibe, soulful interludes, and gritty trap influences, Kilo Kish has a distinct sound and presence. She’s not the type to hype around the stage, but rather prefers staying at her stand, bouncing and belting vocals. She was genuinely surprised at the turnout, flattered, and a little shy but mighty endearing, to say the least. While bending down to rap at crowd level or putting the mic mid-song into the audience, singling out one person and assuring “You can say anything in the whole world, whatever you want,” it’s clear Kish wants to be a part of her fans. And she’s quick to engage the crowd too and not afraid to respond to crowd shout-outs. As I threw a praise during “Creepwave,” giving a “Shout-out to Flatbush Zombies!” Kish’s New York blood seemed impassioned in a crowd of Parisians, following up, “Yeah, they’re not here right now, but shout-out.”
She’s a fan first, in love with the scene and the culture. Not only does she complement those around her musically, but they enthrall her. She’s sweetly genuine in everything she does. Making art with all that is around her is simply all she knows.
Kilo Kish is undoubtedly a fascinating artist to look out for, creatively and culturally. Whatever it is that she chooses to do, this girl is getting big and going places. Download Homeschool here, K+ here, or listen below.