Music listeners are accustomed to hearing about the archetypical, hungry, fresh faced newcomer. We talk about the challenges they face breaking into the industry’s more exclusive spaces, the aspects of their identities (race, gender, sexuality, etc) that help or hurt them, their thoughts on the fanfare that surrounds more established and well known artists. In the case of La Reina Kadence, we spoke about all of the above and what I learned is that she is not your average up and coming artist. The Texas native raps, sings and produces but being a triple threat isn’t what makes her different. It’s that she’s not even sure if she wants to take advantage of her various skill sets and she isn’t easily enticed by the gilded glamour of the industry.
4MP: What sparked your interest in making music?
LRK: I’ve always been musical. Growing up I loved to sing my family kind of has a musical background so it was second nature for me. In High school when I started to look at colleges I found out that SFA, which was the college I attended for a year offered sound recording technology and I didn't even know that was a possibility. I was like “I can go to school to make beats and stuff?”
4MP: How would you describe your style musically?
LRK: I actually hate that question because I don’t have an answer for it. There’s so many different things that I have to offer and I think that stating a specific genre is kind of boxing myself in. Because it could be different just depending on how I feel. It can be hip hop, it could be pop, anything.
4MP: Do you feel like genre is applied discriminately?
LRK: Definitely. As an African American musician I think we are expected to create specific music and I feel like it doesn’t have to be like that.
4MP: That race and sex can be barriers to success in the music industry has been well established by artists of various backgrounds. What about other classifications, like personality, that affect us at a cellular level and have just as big an impact on the trajectory of a career? How do they affect up and coming artists and the choices they make about the types of careers that they pursue?
What are some challenges you have faced being an up and coming artist?
LRK: Just not knowing exactly what to do. You always have to find your own way as an artist and that’s been difficult as an introvert. Definitely having that as a trait for me and knowing that I have to network that’s kind of been hard for me to get started with.
4MP: Do you feel like the music industry is easier to navigate for people who are extroverted?
LRK: Yes. Definitely. Any industry really, but especially the music industry it’s all about…. how you’re perceived. It’s all about the things that you do and the things that you show. And I’m not a very open person (laughs) I know that that can be hindering because if I do want any level of fame I have to get out there and pursue it and that’s definitely easier for a person that is extroverted.
4MP: You mentioned that if fame is something you want you’re going to have to break out of your shell to get it. Are you interested in the fame part of musical success? Are you trying to get as famous as you can possibly be?
LRK: I’m ok with getting to a certain level and sticking to that. Honestly, I just want to be heard. I really do not need the fame. I’m definitely not for “I want to be as famous as possible” As far as the fame, I am not necessarily concerned with it. All the spotlight can do so much damage especially for people that are introverted or homebodies. I’m not trying to be Beyoncé level. I’m very ok with being like The Dream. A lot of people think he fell off and doesnt exist anymore but really he’s still producing and getting money behind the scenes.
4MP: Do you think you would prefer being behind the scenes?
LRK: At first I really had my heart set on being an artist because I do love singing and rapping but I’m starting to come to terms with sticking mostly to the producing side. I wouldn’t mind being an artist but I’m not sure how far outside of my comfort zone I am willing to go to do that. And sticking to producing just eliminates all of that extra stuff. I am kind of going towards being a producer and maybe sining some hooks or being a ghostwriter for others, it’s possible.
4MP: What are the things that make you lean one way or the other?
LRK: I think I’m scared in a way. That might not be good but it’s a fear that I have. I don’t know if I am ready or if I have everything it takes to make it in this music industry today as an artist. There’s so many things you have to sacrifice and sacrificing is okay for something that you love but it depends on what exactly it is that you’re sacrificing. And so that’s what makes the difference for me. I don’t want to have to become someone I’m really not just to succeed when I feel like my music should be doing that for itself.
4MP: In terms of production and then songwriting, who are your biggest influences?
LRK: As far as production, I never even really got into production per se I was never really able to look up to people who are producers to be like “oh I like their style of production”. Same with songwriting I never really went deep enough to see who was actually the writer behind a specific song. I do have a couple artists that I like in general if you want that list?
4MP: Yes, please!
LRK: Kendrick Lamar is my No. 1 and has been for forever! Travis Scott, Tyler the Creator, Willow Smith, SZA, Frank Ocean. I’d say those are the top of my list. Oh and Drake!
4MP: You also rap, so when you are making a rap song what comes first to you the beat or the lyrics?
LRK: Definitely the beat. I always base my lyrics off the beat. For me, when I hear a beat I try to tune in to what it makes me feel like. I write the lyrics off how I feel. I’m not good at writing lyrics and then trying to put a beat to it. It feels like working backwards for me.
4MP: Out of your catalog, what are the songs that when you heard the beat it evoked the strongest emotion?
LRK: I would say my song cycles. It’s very jazzy and it made me automatically think along the lines of “conscious rap” and things of that nature.
4MP: Where do you see yourself as a producer and musician in the next 5 years?
LRK: Continuing to get my production out there and working with more artists in the DFW area. I want to test how comfortable I am as an artist.
4MP: If you had to pick any song out of your entire catalog that you feel best shows off your skill, what would it be and why?
LRK: As far as singing/rapping or production?
4MP: How about both?
LRK: I do have 3 different verses that I rap but there’s also a lot of singing going on. As far as production, I would say ‘Birthday Cake’. That song was so random, it came out of nowhere but it came out really well. I try and push myself to make mainstream music because that isn’t easy for me. I try to challenge And Birthday Cake was one of those things and I am proud of that because it shows I don’t have to stick to one thing.
4MP: I love that answer! A lot of times you hear that making mainstream music isn’t a challenge, it’s the easy choice, but you’re describing it as the opposite because it isn’t your natural inclination.
LRK: Yea definitely!