Rapper Chika's New Music Video Salutes Black Queer Love While Paying Homage To 'A Different World'
In the music video for “Can’t Explain It,” Chika plays Dwayne Wayne vying for the attention of her own Whitley Gilbert.
November 30, 2019 at 10:16 pm
On November 22, Rapper Chika released the music video for her latest single “Can’t Explain It,” which provides fans with a heavy dose of nostalgic late-'80s, early '90s vibes as she pays homage to the cult classic sitcom A Different World. However, Chika's adaptation adds a more inclusive element: A Black queer love story.
Set on the campus of HillMayne College, a creative spin on the sitcom's Hillman College, the visuals allude to Chika fulfilling the role of A Different World's male protagonist Dwayne Wayne, decked out in the character's signature flip-up sunglasses. Much like the storyline for the infamous couple Dwayne and Whitley, originally portrayed by Kadeem Hardison and Jasmine Guy on the HBCU-inspired show, the rapper vies for the time and attention of her own Whitley Gilbert, in hopes of becoming an item.
YouTube | CHIKA
“I think it’s important for us to see Black love in all its forms, so I used a classic couple to bring this concept to life,” Chika reportedly told Out Magazine.
A feel-good music video and song, the track not only samples the '90s hit “So Into You” by Tamia, but also features the unmistakable vocals of R&B icon Charlie Wilson.
"Charlie Wilson is the purest soul I’ve ever worked with," she said, according to Billboard. "He was so kind and there to make the song everything I wanted. He’s a legend. I can’t pick a favorite, that’s a crime."
After the viral success of her breakout hit “A Letter to Kanye Omari West” in 2018, a diss track denouncing Kanye West’s support for Donald Trump, Chika's star has remained steadily on the rise.
A letter to Kanye Omari West. Over his own beat. ???? pic.twitter.com/5xdxKJ7d4l
— CHIKA (@oranicuhh) April 26, 2018
According to Teen Vogue, the idea to create the video was initially sparked during a conversation Chika had with her roommates.
"I wrote it from the perspective of what everyone was thinking in that moment, and I just remember writing it and getting chills," she said.
With powerful songs like "No Squares," "Richey v. Alabama" and "High Rises," the 22-year-old Alabama native has proven herself as a well-versed, socially conscious hip-hop artist. She was even reportedly invited to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at the request of guest host Lena Waithe, according to Out.
During the May 22 taping, Chika debuted the timely, feminist rap "Richey v. Alabama."
YouTube | Jimmy Kimmel Live
"I felt like with this opportunity and the way that it lined up it would make so much sense for me to come one here and speak for people who otherwise feel voiceless," Chika said while interviewed by Waite, making subtle reference to Alabama's controversial strict anti-abortion bill, which had been signed by the state's Republican governor a week before the performance.
"You've been an inspiration for many, and I just want to thank you for being you," Waithe said.
That same spring, Chika picked up a major fashion contract with Calvin Klein, as part of its empowering #MyCalvins ad campaign.
YouTube | CALVIN KLEIN
YouTube | CALVIN KLEIN
Though Calvin Klien's choice to feature Chika in the ad campaign garnered some negative attention from social media users, claiming that the brand was promoting "unhealthy" lifestyles by using her as a model, the rapper rose above the hate by eloquently clapping back at critics on Twitter.
for those so worried about me:
1.) i don’t have diabetes/high blood pressure/heart disease
2.) PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, causing weight gain, fertility issues, and other annoying things. i’ve had it since i started puberty.
3.) my body is my business.
4.) i’m rich.
— CHIKA (@oranicuhh) May 11, 2019
"[F]or those so worried about me: 1.) i don't have diabetes/high blood pressure/heart disease 2.) PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, causing weight gain, fertility issues, and other annoying things. i’ve had it since i started puberty. 3.) my body is my business. 4.) i’m rich," she tweeted.
Despite the backlash, Chika continues to come out on top. In July 2019, she was signed with major-label Warner Records. Truly a force to be reckoned with, the artist, who defines her sound as "melodic hip-hop," said that she plans on continuing to inspire listeners through her lyrics.
"Expect more shaking the table. At this point, I want to be a voice for my generation and put more of me out there," Chika told Teen Vogue.