The first time I heard Young Thug I was astounded by the rapper’s playful use of cadence, and how he didn’t so much say words as stretch them into different shapes and sizes to wield them as an assortment of verbal weapons. He’s Willy Wonka channeled through Harry Houdini; capable of conjuring these infectious turns of phrase out of otherwise unassuming minor key instrumentals. You can almost chew on a Young Thug song — his raps coalesce like syrup over the boat, turning a popular contemporary sound into his own concoction.
Oakland rapper Kamaiyah doesn’t hold the same technical command over her flow as Young Thug, nor does she have the endurance to run marathons over her songs like he does. But her sound is a throwback, rooted in celebratory g-funk and old-school percussive snap (she actually raps over a sample of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Let’s Groove” at one point) that is climates warmer than anything Metro Boomin has touched prior to Kanye’s new album. Yet the reason I am drawing this seemingly unfounded comparison between the two rappers is because when I first heard Kamaiyah’s voice on her breakthrough single “How Does It Feel,” I detected a similar instantly iconic skill in the way she turned the track into bubblegum and kept smacking it with her teeth.
Last week the buzzing MC released her debut mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto, which includes the aforementioned “How Does It Feel.” That song is a backseat banger, built for riding around in the used car you know you’ll one day trade in for a Cadillac. Kamaiyah is only 20 years old but has already paid her dues, remarking that the life she came from was one of “struggling, hurting, and anger.” Yet she’s all good vibes — with gratitude for her crew of friends and her commitment to a dream that is finally being realized. She embodies a story every fan of hip-hop wants to believe in, letting you know from the opening track that “Music was