Kidd Kenn


Kidd Kenn is finally growing up. The Chicago rapper, named in homage to his idol Nicki Minaj  (you know, like Barbie’s boyfriend), broke out when he was just a high school freshman with  gleefully gay twists on street hits from his hometown, most virally FBG Duck’s “Slide.” He built  on the hype with a string of projects—Childish, Child’s Play, and Problem Child—that lean into  the image of a precocious rascal flinging spitballs and texting your boyfriend from the back of  the bus. But now, after years of nurturing his rep as a problem child, Kenn realized something  about himself. “I’m old as fuck,” the 19-year-old says with a laugh. Kenn’s new EP on 4th and  Broadway/Def Jam Recordings, Grown, fashions a new mold. He’s rapping with the wisdom and  self-understanding of an adult. 

“A child grows up,” Kenn says from his apartment in Los Angeles, where he moved during the  pandemic. “I’m paying bills, doing all this shit by myself that makes me feel grown. I’m talking  from these grown perspectives.” 

Just don’t mistake maturity for moderation. On the EP’s lead single, “Body,” a club-primed bop  with a bassline that recalls DJ Mustard’s elastic funk, Kenn’s still making it clap and locking his  dawgs in cages. It’s just that he has new appreciation for how pride in his striking figure was  hard-earned. “I had my insecurities and my body was one of them,” says Kenn, who styles  himself and does his own makeup. “But I grew up.” Another standout, “Want Not a Need,” flips,  of all things, a Beethoven sample. It finds the rapper popping tags and relishing in a palm-tree  view, accompanied by a guest verse from Baby Tate. Kenn’s trademarks are there—ditching  dudes with delight—but his flows are more sophisticated, his intonations more considered. 

Kenn grew up in the Chatham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the son of a hairstylist.  He bounced from middle school to middle school because teachers were unable to handle his  rambunctiousness. But soon, he found a way to channel that energy into music. Kenn’s playful  

raunch builds on a career that always aligned with the lineage of sexploitation rap turning  hypermasculine traditions on their head. His first and most enduring single, “Eriod,” released  when he was 15, flipped a City Girls punchline and featured fellow Chicago provocateur Queen  Key. It was the first song Kenn recorded over an original beat. His debut mixtape, Childish, added a guest verse from the queen of drill herself, Katie Got Bandz. Child’s Play, Kenn’s  major-label debut on 4th and Broadway in 2020, paired him with cupcakKe, and he’s since  collaborated with Rico Nasty too. “Want Not a Need,” for its part, shouts out Missy Elliott. 

Grown also comes in the wake of career achievements that aren’t landmarks for Kenn alone. In  October he became the first openly gay rapper to participate in a BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher.  His identity isn’t how he defines his art, but he understood the significance of the moment.  When the video of the cypher played at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the  crowd was enraptured. “You would’ve thought I was performing onstage or won an award or  something,” he remembers. “They went crazy.” It was his first awards show. In a glittering blue  suit with dyed hair to match, he met Tyler, the Creator, who showed him love and told him to  keep going. Kenn’s also received a co-sign from Kehlani, who flew him to San Francisco to  perform with her at the city’s Pride festival when he had just a few songs to his name. Kenn has  received support from Grammy®-winning artists Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, and Lil  Nas X, along with Chance The Rapper, Saweetie, Young M.A and more. 

As he launches a new chapter, Kidd Kenn continues to grow. He’s reaching new levels of the  industry, working with Fenty Beauty, placing songs in Target commercials and Madden games,  Apple watch ads and partying with Lil Nas X. But as someone who got famous before he could  drive, he’s still learning the value of blowing up at his own pace. “A wise woman told me to stay 

consistent through the lit times and the slow times,” he says. “The only challenge is to have  patience. Everything happens at a certain time for a certain reason.” Grown is happening  because Kenn is ready for the next step in his journey. But as always, he’s having a lot of fun  along the way.

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