It takes a certain kind of tough skin to try to break out into social media stardom. Sure, anyone with an internet connection and a camera has the trappings of foundational internet fame — but anyone attempting to venture out into the unchecked cyber world better be prepared for a bombardment of negativity.
It’s the way the internet works.
“Some people try to force themselves to be a personality,” says LightSkinKeisha, who has parlayed her Instagram following into a burgeoning rap career. “If that’s not in you, it’s not in you. I’ve been told ‘You make it look easy.’ Keisha has been crazy since she came out the womb. I love entertainment, period. If you’re not authentic, don’t expect for your shit to last that long. You gotta find your own lane and ride the fuck out of it while you can but don’t be jumping in nobody else’s lane ‘cause that’s when you crash.”
ED caught up with LightSkinKeisha about her track “Believe Dat”, how cheerleading helped mold her career, and how braces and her self-confidence are intertwined.
ED: “I know what beats I like, I know what I like to hear myself rap on” I read that quote of yours and I’m curious if you think a lot of up-and-coming artists are that secure in their sound off the bat?
KEISHA: I can’t speak on other artists, but when I’m in the studio or going through some beats — I know what I like to hear because I know what’s best for me. I know what my sound needs to be on, what type of beats I need for my voice and sound.
ED: Some of your early videos featured you in braces — not a lot of young women in their late teens, early 20s would be confident enough to post videos of them with braces on … when you were posting then, did you ever doubt yourself or whether you should wait? Where did that self-confidence come from? (mom, cheerleading, etc.?)
KEISHA: I’ve always been confident, I think was just born with that. even when I was in elementary school, this boy chipped my tooth. I was crying because my tooth was chipped and at the time my mom was trying to take care of the bills so I couldn’t get my tooth fixed immediately so I went through sixth, seventh grade with that. I had to wear that chipped tooth with confidence, it built character.
But when I got my braces, not once did I think I should wait. I knew it was going to turn up. I was always insecure about my teeth period, that’s always been my biggest insecurity. I knew when I got braces, it’s going to shift my teeth to make them look better.
ED: How did you get to know Coca Vango? You mentioned he helped you out by picking out hotels — what’s it like for him to see how far you’ve made it?
KEISHA: I met Coca Vango years ago, maybe six years ago. When we first met, we couldn’t stand each other. But then, over time, we talked and hung out. We created this bond. Now, six years to now, he’s always talking about how proud he is of me and watching me flourish. He was always telling my friends, ‘I don’t know what she’s going to do, but whatever she does, she’s going to take off and run with it and she’s going to go crazy because there’s something special about that girl.’ He’s always bragging about me.
You gotta find your own lane and ride the fuck out of it while you can but don’t be jumping in nobody else’s lane ‘cause that’s when you crash. — LightSkinKeisha
ED: How did cheerleading influence your current vocation?
KEISHA: First of all, (in cheerleading) you’re competing against a bunch of teams. After you perform — whether it was a one-day or two-day competition — whenever the awards came, every team is brought up on stage. You’re sitting on stage together and sometimes at the competitions they’ll have dance segments. Before you know it, you’re dancing with your competitor. You want to win, but you’re in the moment having fun. People aren’t really thinking about the competition, but that competitiveness kicks in when they’re about to announce the winner. But we were also taught on my team to show love to the other team, regardless of what place you came in.
I think that applies in this game too because a lot of people try to pit the female rappers against each other and there are so many of us now. I feel like the game is only accepting of a few. They’re always trying to put against each other — they don’t try to put the male artists against each other. The whole cheerleading situation with me, I don’t mind seeing another female rapper win. There’s nothing wrong with showing love to the person who’s doing the same thing as you.
ED: Was there a period where you were unsure if people would take you seriously as a rapper because so many people knew you as a social media star?
KEISHA: There was a little period where I wasn’t sure if my music was going to be taken seriously. I had to understand myself. People love me for me. Regardless of if they accept the music, they’re going to still like me. There were people in my ear trying to tell me if it wasn’t going to happen. At the end of the day, it wouldn’t happen if I couldn’t rap. If I sounded crazy or if I didn’t have a certain flow, but I was confident in my rap and flow.
ED: StripjointsMusic.com services gentlemen’s clubs nationwide and gets music out to their DJs, so why would “Believe Dat” be a great song to get played at gentlemen’s clubs across the U.S.?
KEISHA: It’s going to make all the strippers shake their ass, believe that, period. And it was based off a hit already, “Back That Ass Up” by Juvenile. It’s only right to play something that’s already gonna bump.