We meet the queer rapper whose unique sound and no-fucks-given attitude is paving the way for the next generation.
Openly queer female black rappers are sadly few and far between. Despite people like Angel Haze and Syd the Kid speaking openly about their queerness and apparently paving the way for the next generation of LGBTQ+ rappers, it’s still seemingly taboo for black women in music to speak openly about their sexuality. Thankfully though, there’s a new kid on the block whose no-fucks-given attitude makes certain that change is on the horizon – and we’re here for it.
20-year-old Kodie Shane is the rapper whose killer flow and determination are cementing her as the next big thing. She’s fierce, emotive and totally unforgiving – the only type of musician we want to be listening to this year.
Born and raised in Chicago and currently based in Atlanta, she’s grown up surrounded by music. Her older sister Brandi was a member of 90s girl group Blaque, whose self-titled debut album went platinum when it was released back in ‘99, her other sister is a talented spoken-word artist. Shane says that the two of them have served as a major influence on her musical output and her work ethic. Elsewhere in her musical family tree, her father is Danny C. Williams, who was part of the infamous Detroit rock three-piece, Ran & Dan. “I think I’ve always kinda had a thing for music and entertaining in general,” she tells me when we get a chance to link up “But when I was about 15, my mom and producer Matty P opened a recording studio and I was obsessed with being there all the time, learning and it really made me fall in love with it.”
Spending much of her adolescence in various recording spaces, she met many people working within the industry. One of these was the esteemed music manage, Coach K, who is responsible for kick-starting the careers of Gucci Mane and Migos, to name a few. Coach K introduced her to Lil Yachty, who, being interested in her unique sound, invited her to join his crew. She went on to offer a verse on “All In”, which was part of Yachty’s 2016 mixtape, Summer Songs II. Her impressive contribution to the popular track ultimately gave her a fan-base and platform with which to release her own music.
After successfully releasing a mixtape and her first EP, in 2018 she dropped her very first full-length, Young HeartThrob, a 15-track masterpiece that has firmly placed her on the map as one of our most promising new rappers. “Since I dropped my album, things have been great,” she tells me. “I feel like fans of my music now have something they can really dive into and and hold on to. But it’s just the beginning. I have so much more to share, so it’s about what comes after the album!”
Young HeartThrob is undeniably an album written from the heart, it explores the complexities of relationships; the positives, negatives and everything in-between. It’s self-expression at its most rawest. It’s refreshing to see same-sex love spoken about in such an open and honest manner, especially when so many queer musicians tend to use ambiguous pronouns, particularly at the start of their careers. I wonder if she acknowledges the impact that this kind of positively and openness will have on other young queer people who are consuming her sound. “Honestly, I had no idea I was impacting anyone because I’ve always lived true to myself. I was raised that way. One day I looked up and so many females who look like me, feel like me, think like me, began reaching out and opening up. It inspires me even more to know that I empowered someone to feel strong and confident in their own skin. More than anything I’m so appreciative of the support the LGBTQ+ community has given me. I feel like we’re discovering one another and my music is the conduit!”
She firmly acknowledges her position as a role model for young open and openly queer youngsters, and fully embraces the label. Despite that level of responsibility, she admits that she’s only human and she’s not perfect; and that in itself is an important lesson for those that look up to her. We can only learn from our mistakes.
But so far, Shane hasn’t ran into any hiccups. With an ever burgeoning fan base and an increasingly impressive body of work behind her, there seems to be no stopping this young Chicago native. As we wrap up our conversation, I ask my final question. If she could give any advice to young queer people hoping to start a career in the entertainment industry, what would she tell them? “Be yourself and never be ashamed of who you are, never let anyone tell you “they don’t know how to brand you” or “you gotta change something” it’s simply not true. You will have to work twice maybe three times as hard as the next but you can do it!!”