From Rapzilla Freshman as part of TheKnuBlack to a new beginning as a solo artist, Kay Sade is one of CHH’s most talented emcees.
That journey started with the end of TheKnuBlack.
“I’d say it came because of differences in management strategy and where we each were with life obligations. There were probably some creative differences there as well.”
“My initial reaction was frustration and defeat.”
“We’d invested so much into that group and I felt that the investment had been wasted. But more than that, it was a realization that I either had to let my rap pursuits die off with the end of the group, or I had to start churning out solo material and keep using my gift.”
“Quite a few people encouraged me to do the latter including family members, my boss, and my husband (I’d gotten married a few months before the group ended). TheKnuBlack also had a pretty engaged fan base and I wanted to keep making music for them. Even though it wouldn’t be TheKnuBlack, hopefully, they’ll vibe with our solo stuff.”
“In the in-between time, I really focused on sharpening my engineering and music production skills.”
“I actually didn’t get my musical start with rapping. I grew up performing in instrumental ensembles and choirs. Music production has always been my first love and fascination. I’d dabbled in it on the group projects, but this time around I wanted to release songs that were 100% me from the beat to the lyrics.”
That desire led to the first steps in the process of creating ‘Meta’.
“I put out tracks like ‘Moves’, ‘Up to God’, and ‘Harder to Tell’. Those songs allowed me to test the water and they performed pretty decently for where I’m currently at. That gave me the confidence to plan to produce a few songs on my own album.”
“I’m also an audio engineer by degree and profession, so I wanted to put my mixing and mastering skills to the test…and to good use.”
“I felt determined to use every gift and skill that God has blessed me with and see if I could turn that into a project that reflected me as a solo artist. There are imperfections and areas I need to grow in, but I’m happy that God gave me the motivation and resources through a rough time to keep moving forward with Christian rap.”
“Now, I look back at the group as a growth experience. I think we each learned a lot that we wouldn’t have without it.”
Part of what she learned was the process that would ultimately craft one of 2019’s most acclaimed projects.
“I save most of my song ideas on my phone or on post-it notes. If I already have a written idea like that, I’ll say it to myself until I get an idea for a beat. Then I go into Logic and start putting the sounds and vocals together. If another producer made the beat then I’ll see if I’ve written anything in a mood that fits or I’ll listen to what phrases would push the beat forward.”
“Sometimes I start by making a beat before I have words, but I make the words as I go along – that’s what happened with ‘Oceans’ (track number two on ‘Meta’). I played the washy bell sound and it reminded me of a thought I had about my dislike of the way people applaud being a “wave” as in a trend, or a fad. The bell sounded kind of watery so I built out the other parts.”
“For ‘Broken’, I made the beat first and the hook came immediately but the verses came a week or so later.”
“All the Scars” was actually a beat I made for a collaboration, but it ended up not being used. The piano part I wrote was really special to me, so I sat down with it and tried to find the words that would fit. For ‘Meta’, the beat came first. I had so much fun with that beat. There’s no 808 and the mallets and drums that do make the percussion section really come alive. At least in my head they do. It had such a different sound that I knew it needed to be the title track.”
“Jewel” was produced by Mayo Staccato, ‘I Can’ was produced by Kardo Santana, and ‘Silence’ by Leaky Beats. Those producers supported my art by offering to let me use their beats when I didn’t have a budget to purchase beats right after the group ended. I’m grateful to them for that and I’m happy that the songs are finally out.”
“The remaining tracks were written to beats I’d purchased a while ago.”
“They had either an attitude or an introspective quality that I liked.”
“I made the cover art from a photo I took in Puerto Rico. I’ve noticed that I take pictures with my arms folded pretty often. I figured that would be a good shot for a ‘get-to-know-me’ album.”
“I’m so happy and relieved with how everything came out and with the response from everyone listening to it, being encouraged by it.”
When you put yourself out there the result can hit you in a variety of ways. For Sade, it hit with a sense of overcoming.
“I feel content that I was finally able to release a solo project.”
“It’s been a challenge for me transitioning from creating collaborative works to making something entirely on my own.”
“The positive feedback and the joy others have when they talk about it fills my heart. I prayed that God would lead me through the project and each song seems to resonate with someone on some level.”
“As an artist that makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction. There are millions of directions that an artist can go, so sensing that I’m headed the right way is important to me. When people ask me what kind of music I create my answer by default is “I make Christian music”, I don’t think that will ever change from my artist/performer standpoint.”
“One of my goals is to get into film scoring and music production on a larger scale. As for the rap I create, the space I’m in now (and any larger space that comes) works for me as long as I can respond with…
…I make Christian Rap music.”
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In Part Two we get Sade’s thoughts on genders in CHH, her take on the genre’s current state, and what the future may hold.