9 Things To Know About Kidd Kenn, The Openly Gay Rapper Who Made History At The BET Hip Hop Awards
The Windy City rapper is everything we never knew we needed.
by Danteé Ramos
October 06, 2021 at 4:39 pm
Rapper Kidd Kenn left viewers in awe after making his television debut during the cypher at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards. Donning cobalt blue hair and an electrifying personality to match, it's impossible not to want to know more about this 18-year-old hip-hop newcomer.
We gathered up all the info we could find about Kidd Kenn. Check out nine facts about this history-making star on the rise.
1. He made history at the BET Hip Hop Awards
— Good Day????… (@kiddkenn) October 3, 2021
Kidd Kenn made history on Tuesday as the first openly gay rapper to participate in the BET Hip Hop Awards' annual cypher alongside his musical peers Symba, Toosii and Lakeyah.
Kenn held no punches and instantly became a fan favorite after dropping his hot 16.
2. He's from the Windy City
Dontrell "Kidd Kenn" Smith was born on Jan. 16 and hails from the South Side of Chicago.
3. He was too busy for his middle school graduation
The 18-year-old rapper's passion for music began in the sixth grade. He rapidly grew an online fanbase by remixing popular tracks by Desiigner, G Herbo and King Von.
By eighth grade, Kenn's popularity had begun to take off.
"I didn't even attend my eighth grade graduation because I was out of town taking business trips. The teachers and the principles understood," he told Fader. "They knew what was going on because all the kids knew about me. They were very supportive, everyone supported me in the school. Now, I’m homeschooled."
4. He's signed to Island Records
According to music manager Sharron Beverly of Family First Music Group, Kidd Kenn was very eager to work with her.
"He was tagging me in his IG videos and begging me to take him to the studio," she told the Chicago Reader. "I said ‘no’ at first because he was too young.”
However, Kenn was able to persuade Beverly the more his online following grew. The pair began working closely together until Kenn's growing online momentum caught the eye of Island Records A&R representative Hill Coulson.
“Someone retweeted one of his videos and I found myself in a YouTube rabbit hole of his music. I quickly became obsessed and reached out to learn more,” Coulson told Billboard.
Coulson was introduced to Beverly at a showcase where Kidd Kenn was performing in New York. Throughout the rest of 2018, Coulson would provide Kenn with career advice and studio time to record his debut EP Childish. Then, in 2019, Kenn signed a sweet deal at Island Records.
5. He's collaborated with Rico Nasty
In 2018, Kidd Kenn dropped his Queen Key-assisted single "Eriod" off of his debut album, Childish. The track garnered over 436,000 views on YouTube by June 2019, according to Celeb Blurb.
Last June, Kenn released his follow-up Problem Child EP featuring tracks with Rico Nasty, Dess Dior, and Delli Boe. His most recent single, "Get Lit," is featured on the first-ever album from EA Sports Madden NFL.
6. You probably haven't heard music like his
The best way to describe the young rapper's style is a mix between Chicago drill and disruptive lyrics that shake the room. While freestyling lyrics like, "It's a f****t party baby, you can not get in" over the instrumental to FBG Duck’s “Slide,” Kenn takes shots at those who use the derogatory word to harm the LGBTQ community.
As for the controversial word itself, Kenn had this to say: "I don't feed into the negativity and the BS. It's like if you sitting there calling me a f****t, okay, next? I've been called that many of times, you're not doing anything."
It's clear that he did not come to play when it comes to pushing the envelope in hip hop.
7. He's studied Nicki Minaj
Kenn has dubbed none other than the Head Barb in Charge, Nicki Minaj, as his musical inspiration.
"I was at school on Instagram when I wasn’t supposed to be and I was looking at Nicki Minaj and I’m like, 'I could do this.' So I went home and I wrote a rap," he told Teen Vogue.
That's not the only time Kenn has given Nicki her flowers.
“I learned from the best, period. I always give credit to Nicki Minaj," he said in an interview with Red Bull. "She literally taught me everything. I’m a barb. I know every Nicki song, so I basically rapped her lyrics. I learned her cadence and her tone, and how she did it helped me find who I was, how I wanted to come and be. I kept working on my craft and found my tone a good year ago.”
8. He's got new bops in the works
"I'm working on new music, getting ready to literally wake the world up. I’ve got different styles of music I'm ready to introduce to the world and to my supporters that I can't wait for them to hear," Kidd Kenn told Red Bull. "I plan on being in films. I plan on opening up brands and businesses. You’re going to literally see Kidd Kenn everywhere. That's the plan."