- Words Aimee Phillips
- Photography Amber Park
Kierra Luv is putting Pennsylvania on the rap map.
After her freestyle raps went viral on social media, the 18-year-old Harrisburg, PA rapper was quickly co-signed by Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Halle Berry. This month, Kierra dropped her debut mixtape, ‘Take It Or Leave It’ via 10K Projects, and it’s just the beginning.
Growing up in her grandparent’s busy household with a single mum working full time and not much space, Kierra turned to poetry to express her feelings about school, breakups and a difficult family life. It wasn’t long before her online raps were racking up over 20 million views and a label deal was knocking at her door.
The 10-track mixtape features a number of industry greats, including Queens vocalist Ray Moon and Canadian rapper Tory Lanez, as well as Puerto Rican singer and rapper Iann Dior on the lead single “Run Away.”
‘Take It Or Leave It’ showcases Kierra’s versatility as a rapper. Although it may be her first mixtape, she’s made it clear that she won’t be pigeonholed. From witnessing domestic violence and drinking problems at home to heartbreak and growing up, Kierra brings a rich tapestry of life experiences to her music, but they’re all things she’s witnessed first-hand: “I think it’s important I only rap about things that really happened and I’ve seen.”
For someone with such a natural skill in rapping, it may come as a surprise that Kierra Luv never set out to be a rapper. However, inspired by Lil Wayne and Chris Brown, she decided to try her hand and audition for Lifetime’s “The Rap Game.” Whilst she didn’t make it onto the show, her social media freestyles were gaining traction.
Kierra’s take on Cardi B’s “Money” spiralled online, getting plugs on Say Cheese to WorldStarHipHop. When Love & Hip-Hop star Tabius Tate heard it, he passed it on to Cardi B herself. When the superstar shared Kierra’s rap on Instagram, she was launched into the stratosphere, and never looked back.
We spoke to the up-and-coming rapper about her sources of inspiration, surprise collaborations, and longing to play live again.
Before you auditioned for “The Rap Game,” what sparked your dream of becoming a rapper?
I never really saw myself as a rapper in the beginning. I saw myself maybe even as a dancer, but I never expected to be a rapper. I was not even in the rap scene at all. It was honestly just something I wanted to see if I could do and if I could gain the skill.
Which artists have influenced your personal style as a rapper and an artist?
Definitely Lil Wayne, A-Boogie, Chance the Rapper, and ASAP Rocky. I especially love A-Boogie’s “DTB,” Chance the Rapper’s “Prom Night,” and ASAP Rocky’s “Goldie” just to name a few.
When you started sharing your freestyles on social media, did you have any idea on how much they would blow up?
Not really. I just know that hard work pays off, but I didn’t really expect everything to happen the way it did.
What do you want people to learn about you from your new mixtape?
Well, I want people to learn who I am, as a person, and I just want them to take the confidence and motivation I show in my work and put it into their own life and use it in their own ways.
How has it been launching new music in the middle of a pandemic?
Honestly, it was kind of a hassle at first, because with the label and everything, they didn’t really want to put it out during quarantine. Mostly because clubs and everything weren’t open. I also feel like we’re doing everything super differently with the marketing but that it’s honestly good that we’re changing and approaching the release differently.
I have to definitely focus more on social media. I feel like a lot of times we focus on social media anyway, but we were finding new ways to grab everyone’s attention with social media. That’s why, during this time, I was on Tik Tok a lot and more focused on growing my fan base on different platforms. Even going live on Instagram more and making sure I’m doing interviews.
Tory Lanez and Ray Moon are both featured on the mixtape, who would you love to collaborate with next?
Next, definitely Billie Eilish, that would be different…super different. I feel like no one’s really done that before.
What is one of your sources of inspiration that may surprise people?
Books. I read books that inspire me like Law of Attraction. I feel like a lot of people sleep on reading but reading really helps a lot with lyrics. Basically, I annotate as I read, and I write my ideas down. I try to learn about their experience and how they did certain things and apply that to my own life.
What advice would you give to budding artists who want to launch a music career?
It’s all about mindset. Definitely making sure you’re in the right state of mind and making sure you believe in yourself first, because if you don’t, then nobody else will. So, definitely building up your self-confidence.
What are you looking forward to right now?
Right now, I’m looking forward to shows starting up again and being able to perform. I want to get in front of people. I feel like I’ve been behind a screen for a super long time.
Listen to Kierra Luv’s ‘Take It Or Leave It’ mixtape below: