Civil Scope: LightSkinKeisha
by RK Jackson
KarenCivil.com got to know Atlanta’s rising new rap star and Civil Selects alum a little better.
LightSkinKeisha, born and raised in Atlanta, GA known for it’s bustling music scene as much as it’s traffic has always taken the stage front and center. Hailing from a cultural hit factory that bears iconic output, Keisha plans to take the world by storm with her tenacity, charisma and most importantly of all, her talent.
Signing to LA Reid’s newly formed HitCo Entertainment, the rapper (and often singer) has been hard at work, recently releasing her mixtape Thats Just The Bottom Line and new single ‘Hey LightSkin’ with plans to take the summer hostage with all new music.
Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up that you think kind of shape who you are, and what you do now with your music?
My biggest influence, and someone I definitely admire of course is Beyoncé. I just love Beyoncé. I just always listened to music with my brothers and sisters in the house, but my main thing is I’ve always listened to Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child…but I love Beyoncé.
Looking back, mentioning being inspired by Beyoncé, it sounds like you’ve always known you wanted to be that star. Did you always think you’d be where you are now?
Oh no I didn’t know. I always thought I’d be ya know, a college girl…I wanted to be a dentist! But I’ve always had that feeling. I may have not known what I thought I would be doing, but I always pictured myself on a stage because I was in cheerleading for 13 years of my life. I went from recreational cheerleading all the way to All-Star and that’s a whole different ball game. It forces you to have stage presence, and I always had to perform in front of big big crowds.
You kind of came up in that viral space of YouTube parodies and Dubsmash, what do you think those digital mediums have changed about how artists gain notoriety and how do you think labels are able to tap into that to see who is really talented and who’s got what it takes?
To be honest a lot of this generation now is in it for a piece of clout. [laughs] And I see people getting mad about “oh the labels are only going after people with big followers…” but even when it comes down to jobs, some are requesting to see what you’ve done and what your followers look like. They’re looking to know your impact, and I don’t think that was something you could guage back in the day. They basically kept away from us if you wasn’t like a star or had a series on TV, or MTV or something like that. I think social media now has opened that up. It’s a good thing, it’s not like we’re being kept away from the world now. It’s also teaching people to be themselves and show their personalities more. Honestly if it wasn’t for social media, I don’t know where I’d be.
You’ve got your deal with HitCo and LA Reid is historically known for signing superstars, what are you looking to gain from this new situation going forward?
I mean I think it’s a great experience because it’s LA Reid. I would’ve never thought I’d be signed by LA Reid so thats wassup. I mean maybe I ain’t a star star yet but we’ll see.
LA has a deep history with Atlanta going back to Arista and LaFace Records, speaking of hits, why do you think the city has been such a hit factory. Why do you think so much great talent comes from Atlanta?
Because Atlanta is where it’s at. It’s a cultural experience, and for a long time people have been culture vultures for Atlanta’s culture. We set the trend for different dances for a long time and right now Atlanta is running the music industry. People wasn’t tryna give us our credit but to know Atlanta is to love Atlanta. I think we’re now just kind of getting our recognition for it, but it’s ok though. Because now people are seeing it, the way we talk, the way we rap, the way we dance they want to adapt all of it.
What do you think of the current landscape of women in rap and who do you think of, outside of yourself, that you enjoy and would also want other women to look and listen for?
I mean me of course, I know you said to not talk about myself but [laughs]. I’m actually a real R&B girl, I listen to a lot more R&B artists than I do female rappers. And a lot of these girls are moving in between rapping and singing in their songs like a melodic flow. But when you talk about girls that I think that will last I think of H.E.R., SZA, Summer Walker and Ella Mai. I do like Kash Doll, I like what she stands for. I like Mulatto. But on my day to day I’m listening to more R&B.
If you had to pick a classic R&B album everyone should listen to, what would that be?
A classic would be…Usher’s Confessions. Like that whole project rides. I will never get tired of that album.
If you could design your favorite music festival, who would be atop the bill and what city would it be in?
I would personally want it to be in Atlanta but I would definitely want to put the hottest artists from Atlanta, from Migos, to me, to TI, I would make an Atlanta festival. But I mean top acts? I gotta grab my girl Beyoncé, she need to fly out for it real quick [laughs]. I fucks with Post Malone a lot. I would definitely want him to be a big headliner. I’d bring Trina out, I’d bring Kash Doll out, Mulatto out. Who else? Meek Mill and Tory Lanez too, something like that.
That’s a pretty solid lineup. A slight segway…someone told me you’re the voice recording on 6lack’s ‘Balenciaga Challenge’, is that you?
Yes I am. He just hit me like “yo I’m working on this album, it’s called East Atlanta Love Letter, we from the same side, I feel like you’d be perfect. I want you to feature on it and voice record about how you feel about niggas in this day and your thoughts and opinions and just go in”. I didn’t even know he would chop it up and put it throughout the album. So when it came out I had a bunch of people hitting me up like “omg Lightskinkeisha on this 6lack album it’s lit”. I be laughing at myself like damn this girl crazy [laughs].
You’re currently working on your debut, I know TJTBL you’d consider a mixtape, do you have any expectations on when you’ll release?
I am, idk what you would call it, I thought it would be a mixtape so I let LA hear some of the songs and he was just like it’s very good quality, it’s really good and it sounds like a real album, it don’t sound like a mixtape. So I don’t know, I don’t know. Oh yea that thang is dropping this summer. That’s just that. I’m thinking April-June. Sometime in the summer.
That’s so good to hear, I can’t wait for that. My final question would be, what is something people wouldn’t know about you, unless you told them?
That a year ago, before all of this, I was homeless. I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I was working a job and I quit, because it made me unhappy. I kinda hit rock bottom, I was living out of my car and hotels for a certain amount of time. Then, all of a sudden I just came up. So people sometimes look at me and think “oh you got it made, you making money now”…that came from a lot of struggle and a lot of hard work. That didn’t come from “oh we feel sorry for you, so we’re gonna give you this,” or because I stole something. Or just anything other than me working hard or putting in that effort to get where I am now. That’s for any aspiring artists looking to get anything. Things aren’t always gonna go your way but you’ve got to be willing to make some sacrifices sometimes. You gotta be willing to do some shit you never done and to just be fearless and brave and just hard working. What you put in is what you get out and I expect to be even bigger than where I am now because of my work ethic. Regardless of what anybody says, I’m not giving up for shit [laughs].
LightSkinKeisha’s current single, “Hey LightSkin” is available everywhere now.