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Hip Hop celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2023. Although folks have been scratching records since the early '60s, a 1973 Block Party hosted by DJ Kool Herc in the Bronx marks the start of Hip hop for most people. In this series, we are highlighting an eclectic mix of North Carolina female rappers who are creating a new era of hip-hop and paying homage to their predecessors. Caitlin Leggett spoke to a few women from across the state who are using the influence of their environment and upbringing to offer a new perspective to the genre.

Kash Kyla on betting it all on rap music

A young Black woman (Rapper Kash Kyla) with long, straight black hair, gold-plated rings and long nails holds her hand to the camera lens.
Jordan McNeil
Kash Kyla photographed for her 21st birthday

Newcomer rapper Kash Kyla discusses going viral, her musical process, and her desire to succeed.

The fast-rapping, freestyle-popping Kash Kyla, hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, is a newcomer to the rap scene. But make no mistake, she raps like she's been around the block.

“Whenever I asked for something for Christmas or my birthday, it was always an MP3 player or a CD player,” she said. “We had the DVD man on the corner with DVDs and mixtapes, so I used to always listen to music. I always loved music.”

Kash made her debut with songs like “Starz,” which became a viral sound on TikTok and Instagram.

“I knew when it was time to graduate, I'm not going to college,” she said. “I knew I wanted to rap. So it's like, ‘Hey, you better start rapping, like you better get serious.’”

The first time I heard her sound was on TikTok. The song, “Poppin,” came up on my timeline and I Shazam-ed it immediately. Kash’s cadence mimics a battle rapper’s, the way she lands jabs with her lines was mesmerizing. Her lyrical bars and fast flow make me screw my face up in ethnic approval every time.

“A lot of people think I rap fast,” Kash said. “It's just natural because I'm a fast talker. So when I hear a beat it’s like, I have a lot to say. And I try to squeeze in every word.”

Rapper Kash Kyla, a young Black woman in a white bikini top, jeans and heels, squats in a white room.
Jordan McNeil
Kash made her debut with songs like “Starz,” which became a viral sound on TikTok and Instagram.

Since her first released single “Poppin” in 2021, she has taken her music seriously by dropping her mixtape “Kashed Out The Mixtape.”

“I want to drop an album, but I know it's like the album's not ready and people keep asking me," she said, "so I'm like, ‘I'm gonna put a tape together and put my freestyles there to hold the people over.”

She credits the album’s slow creation to her high-quality craftsmanship. Kash is involved with every aspect of her music and has been from the beginning of her artistic journey.

“The hook, the structure of the song — that's why it takes me a little bit longer to put (music) out,” she said. “I'm fine with it just because everything I do is strictly me. The production has everything to do with me, the lyrics, everything I'm involved in, my video shoot I'm involved in.”

Kash attributes her hands-on approach to how she started rapping initially.

“My producer will build the beat around me. It usually starts with me beating on the table,” she said. “You ever heard in middle school when the boys used to have pencils and used to be beating on the table? I was a tomboy but I used to have nails on so I used to beat on the table with my nails and rap.“

Since beating on the tables in the lunchroom, her fan base has grown tremendously. Kash is now a part of the new wave of women in hip-hop music.

“I'm glad that the future is female. I'm just waiting for my name to be in that…It’s like ‘Hurry up!’ because I feel like I am the future when it comes to this," Kash said.

Outside of her music, Kash regularly attends church, describing herself as "God-fearing, God-loving." And she likes to go shooting at the gun range, where she was planning to head after our interview.

After opening up for rapper NoName in Charlotte, Kash hopes to come together with more female artists.

“I wish we worked together more in North Carolina and we helped each other get there," Kash said. "It's like, it's enough money. It's enough fans for everybody.”

Until then, she is curating her own project.

“The album is on the way," Kash said. "I need to be on stage … I’m on go now. This is what I want. I want the attention. I want the life. I want it all.”

Caitlin Leggett was WUNC's News Administrative Intern & Youth Reporting Mentor.
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