New England Music Awards Week: Young Kaii

The Rhode Island rapper talks about her debut album and how she avoids being defined by one part of her identity

By: Jake Reed

February 12, 2014

New England Music Awards Week resumes with Young Kaii (aka Kathy Silverio), a female rapper nominated for Hip Hop Act of the Year. The openly lesbian rapper is a role model for young people in the LGBT community, but as an artist, she believes that her music extends beyond that part of her identity. We spoke to Young Kaii about her nomination and her first album, This is Love. Here’s what she has to say.


DELI: How does it feel to be nominated for Hip Hop Act of the Year?

KAII: It feels great. It’s an honor just to be nominated. There are a lot of artists that would love that opportunity, and I just feel blessed and happy and excited about being nominated.


DELI: Why do you think you were recognized with a nomination this year?

KAII: All of the opportunities I’ve been getting. I’ve been able to expand more than a lot of the local artists. That, and just sticking to the message – to stick to positivity – and trying to make a change. Just sticking to that message, that makes me stand out from other artists.


DELI: You released your first album, “This is Love,” in 2012. What was the process of writing and recording the album like?

KAII: It wasn’t like I went in the studio or said, “I’m going sit down and work on this.” It was a long process; it lasted longer than it should have because I was doing shows in between. I wasn’t completely just dedicated to working on it. I would start a song and then get back to it after traveling, [but] I’m glad I did it that way because it gave me time to really think about the feelings and experiences I was able to put onto the songs.


DELI: Had you released mixtapes prior to the album?

KAII: Yes. My last mixtape was “Young Kaii vs. K-Star,” and it was pretty much a blend of the old me and new me. I wanted people to look at the difference between K-Star [Young Kaii’s previous stage name] and Young Kaii’s persona. So I kind of just threw in a little bit of everything and that’s why I titled it that.


DELI: Do you want to release any more mixtapes or stick with albums?

KAII: I’m not sure. That’s a good question because I’ve been asking that myself. Do I want to go back to doing mixtapes, or maybe just singles or EPs? I’m not sure at this moment where I want to go to. I like to surprise people.


DELI: What types of messages or themes to you put into your songs?

KAII: They’re mainly experiences from past relationships. I like to write in a way where, although I can relate to it obviously because I’m writing it, at the same time I want to make sure my audience is relating to it as well. It’s mainly past relationships, experiences, and just trying to make it in general as an MC. The people that try to keep you from getting to your goal. Those are one of the main topics that I like to write about.


DELI: Do you think you face any challenges specifically as an openly lesbian rapper?

KAII: I think trying to maintain that image of standing out from other artists is always going be something that every artist is going to have difficulties with, because it’s a constant thing. There’s always new talent and there’s always more competition. I think that’s one of the main things: trying to maintain that image that makes you stand out.


DELI: Do you believe that being LGBT helps you stand out the most, or do you think your music speaks for itself?

KAII: I think it’s the music. Just the other day I was playing some music for some people that I met through a friend of mine, and they were just telling me how they really like it. [One woman] was telling me, “I’ll listen to underground music and stuff, but there’s something about your sound that … it’s pleasing. I like to listen to it and its stuff that I can [imagine hearing] on the radio.” I try to write music so that others can relate, so that you can focus on the listeners more than just yourself and your experiences. That’s definitely one of the key things I believe makes me stand out – the fact that I think about the listeners when I’m writing the songs.


DELI: Aside from that experience, have there been any others where a fan expressed to you that a song had connected to them or helped them in some way?

KAII: I’ve had this one girl … it was probably a YouTube comment she had left about one particular song called “Hey Pretty Lady.” She was having relationship issues and then she said, “Well, you know, listening to this song makes me believe that there really is someone out there that will care about me and won’t hurt me.” I get people all the time that tell me I inspire them. They can see your passion. They can feel that hunger that you have. When you really write from the heart, people can feel that through the music.


DELI: You’ve done a lot of interviews for LGBT publications. Do you see yourself as a role model for young people in the LGBT community?

KAII: Yes, I think so. Only because I’ve done so much for the community. But at the same time, I really don’t want to be labeled as just that because those aren’t the only kind of interviews I’ve done.


DELI: What’s next for Young Kaii? New music, or maybe a tour?

KAII: I have like a list of goals that I want to accomplish. I have a list of things already planned out and sketched, and a bunch of projects I’m excited about.

I haven’t really had the chance to promote the album the way I wanted to last year, so I kind of want to use the beginning of this year to promote. It. I didn’t get a chance really to interact with my fans and the viewers on YouTube and stuff so one of the things would be just talking about the album, releasing videos, maybe showing some behind the scenes footage of a lot of the things that I’ve been working on. Behind the music that a lot of people haven’t had the chance to see because [I was] a little M.I.A. last year. If I do something like that it will let people know that I’m here, I’m still working on stuff. And just to simply show people how much work there is behind the music.


DELI: Do you have a favorite or most memorable performance?

KAII: Boston Pride [2011] was one of my favorites. That’s when I had just started [performing] for Pride shows. The thing about Boston was that … usually when I do a show, I get off stage and a couple people come up to you and tell you how they liked the performance. When did Boston Pride, I stepped out when I got off stage [and] I’ve never seen so many people run toward me all at once just to get an autograph and take pictures. I felt like Justin Bieber for two minutes. It was the first time I’ve ever witnessed that. I felt special. I felt good about my work.


New England Music Awards Week continues with another nominee interview tomorrow. The show takes place on February 22 at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA, and tickets are available here.