We made a playlist with all of our sleeper hits. You can listen to them here.
When I first got the advance of CHIKA’s debut EP, INDUSTRY GAMES, I knew she was going to be a star. The rapper, who went viral in 2018 for her freestyle admonishing Kanye West, is so much more than her notorious start. In 20 minutes, INDUSTRY GAMES proves the Alabama native, 23, to be an affecting wordsmith. “I want to change the way that people process emotions,” she told TIME last year. “I want to bring back what’s real and let people be more in touch with themselves.” With INDUSTRY GAMES, CHIKA presents a healthy return to emotions and introspection.
The intro of CHIKA’s debut could be a sleeper hit—her proudly queer “Balencies” and “On My Way” are also in the running—but, ultimately, the crown goes to soulful “Songs About You.” “I ain’t no average n***a,” CHIKA announces on the song’s second verse, the verse that follows her reminding everyone she met Hov and Diddy. “Songs About You” is the quintessential “Mama, I made it” joint—not a bad thing by any stretch. Listening to CHIKA spit about her come-up story, we immediately root for her. “Songs About You” instantly endears us to the young rapper.
Soaring chords underscore CHIKA’s fearsome rapping. This record may be the celebration, but that doesn’t mean CHIKA is resting on her laurels. Her steady delivery swirls around us and becomes a storm of lyricism and wit. “Your favorite no better,” she commands before slipping into a gorgeous sung moment: “I’m having the time of my life… I have only dreamed of these heights.” In an era of misery, CHIKA’s “Songs About You” feels like a necessary reprieve. It’s a feel-good track we can feel good about. It’s a grand moment of overcoming for an artist worthy of our ear and deserving of our attention. “My come-up was picture perfect,” CHIKA concludes.
By the end of “Songs About You,” CHIKA calls herself a professional truth-teller. So long as she stays locked into that energy, the very energy she brought to her 2019 TIME interview, she will be well on her way to becoming a household name. For now, let’s let the choir play her out.