This self-described “political rebel ass” is shaking up the industry, one viral moment at a time.
“As a queer black woman raised from immigrants, my entire existence is political,” says Chika. “For me to have a platform and be like, ‘Oh, I don’t do politics because that makes people uncomfortable’ is tone deaf to people who have to be political.”
Over the past four years, the 23-year-old Alabama rapper has cemented herself as one of the most outspoken and political wordsmiths in the music industry. Although she’s only been signed to a major label for less than a year, Chika has become a viral sensation on multiple occasions thanks to her unmatchable freestyle skill, campaigns for body positivity and self-love, and her no-holds-barred approach when it comes to her fellow rappers and their unflinching support for racist, homophobic and sexist leaders.
“We’re all here for such a finite amount of time. The least we can do, as people who have any privilege, my privilege being my platform, is use it to help other people,” she passionately states as she covers the new issue of Gay Times. “Don’t sit and watch things happen. You have to speak up for others, because ultimately – who will speak up for us? There will be no one left at the end of the day because we’re all silent on every issue that doesn’t involve us.”
Like Lil Nas X and Young M.A, Chika is part of a new wave of artists who aren’t afraid to be ‘explicitly queer’ in their art. The video for her Charlie Wilson-assisted anthem, Can’t Explain It, put an LGBTQ spin on one of her favourite sitcoms, A Different World, and had black, queer love at the forefront.
Like her previous ‘controversial’ viral moments, it wasn’t supposed to be a statement – but everything Chika does as a queer black woman is a political statement. “If a straight man were to put a woman, or a straight woman were to put a man in the video, it’s not them being ‘explicitly straight’ – it’s just who they are,” she explains.
“For me, I know a lot of people ask, ‘Did you do that on purpose?’ It’s like, ‘Of course! I’m gay!’ That was my girl at the time, if I’m going to put someone I love in the video, it’s going to be an accurate reflection of my life. If people take it as a statement, great. Ultimately, I’m just being a human and sharing who I am.”
The human side of Chika can really be felt on her debut EP, Industry Games. Yes, we’ve grown to adore her artistry for the political awareness, but with her first collection of tracks, Chika wanted to showcase her personal growth from being a nine-year-old poet to a groundbreaking 23-year-old wordsmith.
“So much of my story has been so public and political, people haven’t really gotten to know me,” she admits. “They know my views more than they know me, so this is me telling my story. It’s definitely an up and close view of me as a person, not just the political rebel ass. You get to hear some vulnerability there!”
Elsewhere in the interview, CHIKA reflects on her critically-acclaimed Kanye West-diss track, her viral campaigns for body positivity and the lack of acceptance for queer men in the hip-hop and rap genres.
You can read the full cover interview with Chika in the new issue of Gay Times Magazine, which you can buy from our online store now.
Following the huge popularity of last year’s music issue – titled Sounds Like Queer Spirit – we have brought it back!
It’s a celebration of the innovative and inspiring LGBTQ musicians of the moment, pinpointing the queer idols of tomorrow and how they are bettering the lives of queer youth everywhere, now.
Photography Nicole Biesek
Fashion iCON Billingsley
Words Sam Damshenas
Photography Assistants Sarah Ruby & Iris Sparrow