The Emancipation of KiKi . . KiKi WATERS

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I have to admit it. When I first became aware of Singer/ Rapper / Dancer KIKI WATERS. I stereotyped her as the pretty face in a Hip Hop Crew. I thought she was just the eye candy that was just with the crew. But, it wasn’t til another artist I work with, told me that I had that all wrong. That KIKI, was more than just with the crew. So a while later her EP , “2018’s The GOALDIGGER EP Dropped on Soundcloud. So on a whim I checked it out. And, to my surprise it was a solid project. In fact it was a “No Repeat, No Skip” album. Packed with not just WATERS Rapping like a full blown Titan but also Singing, quite well and effectively. I was more than impressed and was ready to dive into who this Multi Hyphenate was, and how it came to be.

“As a young girl my mother turned me on to so many Motown classics that stayed in my ear. My mother was born in the South in the fifties and her parents were still domestic workers. My grandparents had eight children to provide for and not enough money to spend on any music lessons thus my mother learned to play the piano by ear at a neighbor’s house.” Says WATERS, Explaining The beginning legacy of music in her family..“One morning while in the shower at age seven (I was) singing   Just My Imagination–one of the Temptation’s longest standing and well known hits–my mother poked her head in the shower curtain,  and asked if I wanted to learn how to read music. That’s how it all began.” According to the talented artist herself, who can rip on par with any of the Cardi B’s  or Nicki Minaj’s of the world. Like many in her profession, KIKI, got a lot of her beginning/ formal lessons and experience along the way within her schooling.  One of her starting points began as an adolescent, “I started singing very young. When I was in eighth grade I went to a predominantly Caucasian school that only offered certain extracurricular activities and choir was one of them. This was where I started learning to read music. I could sing, i.e. sight-reading (I fell in love)”. says KIKI of valuable formal training she still uses til this day as an Indie artist..IMG_3190“When I graduated eighth grade into high school I went to a more public high school that wasn’t afforded the same opportunities as Iwas in junior high, and I took advantage of the advancement. I was the only ninth grader in my advanced choir class and  my four year high school career progressed into me becoming the choir manager and receiving a scholarship to Michigan State University and Wayne State University for Vocal Music Education in the Secondary Degree with a minor in Theater and Production.” says the multi talented singer and dancer. Who is also a Dance and performance instructor for local Detroit Artist Development Company, Star Factory, where she herself partook of media training and other valuable lessons to help aid those who seek to prepare for a career in entertainment. But there is more to the young performer than just contemporary R&B , Hip Hop and Dance. She is actually trained in Operatic and Chorale arrangement .. “I had always been involved in music between playing instruments, singing, becoming involved in artist development as a teenager (Star Factory), and carrying on a collegiate career with choral and orchestral music for five years.

One of the first things you will get to see and know about KiKi, is her humility. She is striking but down to earth and very personable. She is a character read and by nature will give you the benefit of truth in action. Meaning she will offer you deserved trust, honor and respect in advance, with the hopes of you reciprocating the same. As showing and receiving love is her life’s elixir. “I officially started recording my own music after referencing for a few local artists in 2014 shortly after the birth of my son. I recorded about twenty songs before I actually decided to let the world hear anything finally my heart landed on a single I churned out during a difficult and pivotal time in my life called Shame On Me (2016). This single highlighted certain issues I was ashamed to talk about but I felt extremely comfortable singing. Once I saw how my friends, family, and then manager reacted to the single it inspired me to record and release more stories I had to tell. I felt I had found my niche and that solidified my passion in singing my experiences.” According to WATERS on her earliest inklings that music, was her calling. She took to it and it brought her through some tough times as an adolescent and later young adult.82131538_10162626120835263_8208688173543325696_o

I came to know of her thru Detroit based Hip Hop collective , Team Money Hungry. A five member group of Hip Hop artists who came together to support one another as a unit. Over time they became known for their Hyped performances and devout loyalty to one another. KIKI was one of two females in the mostly male clique. But she held her own while still holding down the team.. “When I severed from my first management situation, I wasn’t clear about my direction in music professionally or in this local industry and the only foot-in I could count on was Toy Souljah ( Fellow Team Money Hungry Member). We had been managed by the same team previously and I trusted her instinct. I watched Toy Souljah and Woodrow the Entertainer, one of my premiering producers, blend with the magnetic energy of what is Team Money Hungry and I was intrigued. Donna Banks who is the booking manager of Team Money Hungry was admirable in how she marketed the artists and very well-known in the Metro are as well as the New York and New Jersey areas. This rolled us into our first small tour starting with Chicago, then Cleveland, Ohio, and we ventured up to Jersey, toured through the Bronx and ended our tour recording with Grammy-nominated producer Frenchie Hunt in Harlem (The Fugees, Lauryn Hill). My induction was the tour and our house bill so booked and busy.” says KIKI on her initiation into the TMH Family. Which spoke to the loyalty she offers and demands. They were a family as much as a group. And KIKI, brought more to the family than a pretty face. She could flow, for real. And a hidden talent that she didn’t utilize much in the crew, that she could sing as well. She is a consummate professional in all she does and represents herself always as a lady and respectful towards everyone who crosses her path.. “Professionally I tend to be inspired and influenced by moguls who portray to have master-minded the business aspect of the music world: Russell Simmons, P. Diddy, Beyonce, Dame Dash etc. I admire their work ethic to go beyond the talent and monetize what we have as natural gifts. Personally, I am widely influenced and inspired by my amazing son and my late mother, who had every foot in every step to ensure every success I was afforded. I feel I am indebted to them to be a voice that changes hearts.” , says the young artist who very much keeps her family and those she loves in perspective even when it comes to her ascension in her chosen path. She is not one to wait until she arrives to give back either. She currently teaches a youth dance class for young ladies whom she refers too as her “babies”. She teaches more than dance. She teaches life lessons and projecting the respectful of images in order to demand respect before you even speak by encouraging her pupils to dress appropriately when arriving to her class. No cut off or mid drifts allowed. ALWAYS be a lady when you enter her studio. According to the talented artist. .“As an urban female R&B and Rap artist with vivid engrossment all worlds of music I can attribute so many of my influences to a number of artists. To start, the soulful grittiness of Lauryn Hill and Anita Baker, the beloved storytelling of mezzo alto Jill Scott and Phyllis Hyman, the raw and chakhra audiating Erykah Badu just to name a few are strong women who have assisted in shaping my thoughts of what music and storytelling is supposed to mean. The men I can off-hand quote because of my love for their lyricism and colloquialisms would be artists like Kanye, Drake, Jay Z, Nas, Papoose, Pac, Biggie, to name a few.” says the vocalist and Rapper no less, who has a way with a lyric herself.  In fact, it is worth noting that her 2018 mixtape/ ep “The GoalDigger EP” contains no sexual references nor innuendo. Something she prides herself in. Always maintaining her ground as a lady of respect in a world that expects and worse, suspects to hear such from all female artists especially 80773621_10162618726430263_4742860783573008384_oBlack female rappers and singers. She stands strong on not using her sexuality to get her message across or gain attention for being overtly sexual in her music or visually.  She prefers to let her music speak for her. Keeping in mind, that some of her listeners are impressionable.. “My audience can respect how relatable my music is to them. I try to be humble in real life as well as in the lyrics I want others to hear so the message I have is not comparable to my counterparts I’m often put against.” according to WATERS on how she wants to have her supporters see her.. “The message I have, The story I speak. When I look at most of the artists that local DJ’s or promoters contend me against,  Our message is completely different. But we’re perceived as the same type of artists based off of looks or gender. I have to be pretty, but still be a sex symbol, hood but still articulate, rap about sex. but can’t be a whore. It’s a confusing strange standard I’m determined to change.”

Although its a mixed and borderless world when it comes to genres and defining music these days. KIKI WATERS , is one of those artists who straddles the fence between straight up singing, versus straight up rapping. Which she does very well, Without the use of overt use of sexually charged lyrics or over produced vocals. Her authenticity is her calling card..It makes you wonder, what came first and to what effect.. “I prefer singing because of how it makes me feel internally. But rapping, is easier executed especially depending on the message. It’s really hard for me to choose. They are such a large part of what makes of who I am as a whole. I get most of my feedback from my rapping from newer fans because they aren’t very clear of my orchestral and operatic background, but those who know my singing prefer my singing.” Either medium is fine for her and her listeners. As its refreshing and inspiring to hear a female rapper, who isn’t bragging on their sexual prowess or every other word calling herself “That Bi%^&” to make her persona more hood and acceptable to her perceived audience. Its an anomaly that burdens her and to a bigger extent , The Detroit music scene. Where more often female artists like Kash Doll , Rocky Badd and Neisha Nesha are known for their sexuality and hoodness in their music, and their actual artistry a distant second.  IMG_3252 (1)Something that KIKI hopes to overcome in her career..In Detroit, our music scene can be a bit biased. Most of our musicians and artists that achieve a platform of wider recognition, have to conform to what is now coined as “Detroit Rap” which can be categorized by a slight off beat cadence that normally references some form of violence or street credibility. In shorter words if I choose not to make a plethora of songs about what hood I bang, I can’t count on my credibility being recognized or respected. I believe certain artists make waves for the industry to look our way but because of a sad mentality of jealousy or “crabs-in-a-bucket” we fear outrunning one another. Our local scene has an issue with support, which would turn our numbers substantially and successfully if the wave was wider supported for the industry to pay attention.”  Observing how the industry views Detroit artists, KIK hopes to be a part of the change hat allows not just Detroit artists, but more indie artists as a whole to be respected for their originality and quality in their music. Not just on the Rap side, but on the R&B side of the fence as well where we are seeing a resurgence in quality R&B, but, there is always room for improvement.. “R&B in 2020 is extremely watered down based off of what I was raised on. I need my Brandy, Aaliyah, Tamia, Joe, Case, Anthony Hamilton, Monica, Xscape, Usher, all of them and more BACK. But that’s also exactly what I plan on using my music and platform to do: bring back music that told a story, music that meant something for years to come or will jump start the next generation to have feeling in their music that will bypass expiring pop trends.” To keep things poppin musically, KIKI has been on a steady stream of dropping hot single after single both in R&B and Hip Hop. Her latest is a simultaneous drop of a Hip Hop single “Grave” finds her in Rap form showing that she is just as deadly dropping Verses as she is singing melodies as evidenced on her R&B single “Nobody Else”

It takes a special kind of artist to travel the roads KIKI WATERS is travelling down, It takes strength , tenacity and a lot of Faith. Thankfully she has all of thee above in mass quantities, an looks no further than her own family for inspiration and influence to keep her on the path.  Particularly her young son, and her Mother , who passed away a little over a few years ago, just as KIKI was set to begin a tour of performance dates. She carries and credits her mothers belief and drive to put her in classes and other performing arts based situations, where she could hone herself into a well rounded entertainer. Something she would have no problem and in fact, be proud to see her son follow in her footsteps should he desire. It is after all a family trait and she expects nothing less than full effort from him as her Mom expected from her. KIKI feels that she is indebted to both to pursue this dream to full fruition. She realizes its a passion, and why aside from being her own artist, she still makes the time to give back in the mold of being a Dance instructor and molder of other young ladies seeking to become entertainers. Even if her career somehow didn’t go as planned. She still sees herself helping and teaching Children is also a passion, Helping them learn as she did. Helping them learn to thrive to do what they have learned and RESPECT it enough to go all the way. RnBInTheD – Terry Martin


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