Kidd Kenn is officially back and “At It Again,” also the name of his most recent visual featuring Delli Boe. And if you had a chance to watch the music video, you’d get a taste of everything Kidd Kenn stands for: confidence, passion, and someone who stays unapologetically true to themselves.

In describing himself, Kenn states, “Kidd Kenn is a boss bitch that makes music for boss bad bitches, period.”

Straight out of the South Side of Chicago, real name Dontrell Smith fell in love with music at a very early age, and things quickly escalated as his freestyles went completely viral on social media. Currently boasting 283K followers on Instagram alone, Kenn proves he has what it takes to make it to the big leagues, even recently signing to Def Jam to take his music career to the next level. 

Fast forward to today, Kenn returns with his highly-anticipated EP titled Grown, piggybacking off his previous projects Child’s Play and Problem Child. And if there’s one thing you can count on with Kenn, it’s the fact that he’s always slayed. In fact, he even does his own hair and makeup, always on point from the fits to his hair color. 

Sheen spoke with Kidd Kenn virtually to discuss his rise in the music industry, love for Nicki Minaj, the new project, collaborating with Erica Banks, and what it means to have his single “Good Day” played in NBA 2K23.

You’re from Chicago, how does that play into your life and career?

Chicago means literally the world to me. If I wasn’t from Chicago, it wouldn’t be right. I’m so happy to be from Chicago: the culture, the food, the vibes Chicago people bring along. People gravitate towards Chicago, that plays a big part of me and Kidd Kenn because a lot of people gravitate towards me. But that’s one of the reasons why, because people love Chicago people. 

What were you doing before the music?

Before the music, I was living a regular child life. Getting up, going to school, coming home, chilling with my friends, smoking and talking shit. [laughs]

Did you work any jobs?

I never had a job. I never had a 9 to 5. Never clocked in, never had a job period. I don’t know what working feels like. I’m working, but this is more of a lifestyle. It’s not really work to me when you love it. 

So when’d you fall in love with music?

I’ve been had a love for music. I always used to write when I was younger, around 6th grade, I used to think okay, what if I actually tried and rapped what I wrote? I started doing it and it fit. It sounded good, it looked good. I saw the vision after the first rap I wrote. 

Did you hone in and study the greats after that?

I studied rap before I got into it. I looked at my face and saw what it took to be an artist, the sacrifice you had to make and the decisions you had to make. Okay, I think I can do it. I’m ready for it. Once I started putting out my little freestyle videos, I really knew the ropes already. 

How did it feel to go viral?

It felt so good, it’s crazy. Before my freestyles started going viral, I went viral for giving out my reaction because a guy texted me and my friend. I caught it all on camera, that was my first video going viral. After that, I started putting out my rap videos and they started going viral. Once I started seeing what people were saying, I just felt so good. It really put a big smile on my face to see people really fucking with what I’m saying and how I’m saying it, me just being myself authentically.

Your new project Grown is out now, how are you feeling?

We real grown. We real, real grown. First it was Childish, Child’s Play, Problem Child, now we grown. Now we are talking from a perspective where Kenn is a young adult. He’s making moves, and he’s not giving a fuck. We are having a lit time, that’s what Grown is giving. 

What was the writing process like? 

I like music so much so I never go into a studio session like I’m making songs for a certain project. I just make whatever I feel. At the time, I was new to LA. I was really catching a vibe, saying what I wanted and felt at the moment. Grown was really a fun process. I was in the studio being me, having fun. I just picked the songs I wanted like okay, this sounds grown. This sounds grown. [laughs]

How was it collaborating with Erica Banks on “Do That”?

I love it, Erica Banks sounds so good. She’s looking so good in the video. She’s such a vibe. That was our first time meeting the day of the video shoot, I just love her. 

Did you make the song with her in mind?

I made the song and I knew I wanted a girl on it. I didn’t know it was going to be Erica, but I knew I wanted to work with Erica. My team sent it to her, she loved the song. I could tell she loved the song once she did the verse back. The verse just gave, it ate completely. 

Best memory from the video shoot?

We were taking shots. [laughs] I was taking shots with my girl Erica. We got litty in the city. We acted real grown of course.

Did you like living in Atlanta for a year?

I loved it. I’m an Atlanta girl. LA is way better for me though. Atlanta is cute for what it’s cute for, but me, I feel like I reside in LA. 

What inspires your fashion sense?

I got my fashion sense from Nicki, Prince, Micheal Jackson, a little bit of Kidd Kenn and Lady Gaga. A lot of the girls, a lot of the fashion girls inspired Kidd Kenn.

Nicki Minaj inspired your name?

Of course, I’m Kidd Kenn and she’s Barbie. It adds up. 

What did you think of her VMA speech?

I loved her speech, I’m a Barb to the death of me. I’ve always been a Barb. I’ve been a Barb since “5 Star.” I went back and looked at everything she ever made. For me to see her growth and where she is now, and the fact that it’s all these years later and she’s still so relevant. You’d think she’s one of the new girls how she’s doing it, which is so inspiring. I can’t wait to have a moment like that where I’ve been in the game for so long and just be respected. I still got a real strong fanbase, and the world watching and supporting. That’s my biggest thing, I love that. 

What would you say your purpose in music is?

My purpose in music is to make people be themselves, and to deliver good music with bars because that’s what we’re missing a lot nowadays. A lot of people be on the TikTok music. It’s cute, but they don’t know how to do it, do it. I’m here to really do it, and show them how to do it. [laughs]

Kidd Kenn

Congrats onGood Day” being featured in the NBA 2K23 soundtrack! How does it feel?

Yes, thank you. I love it because I was never a big 2K fan, I don’t really play video games or basketball games, but the fact that our song is on something like that is so wonderful. All my family members, like my cousins, play that game. When they get the game and they hear my song on it, it’s such a good feeling. Little old me is on a 2K game. I had one of my songs, “Get Lit,” on the last Madden game. It’s a vibe.

3 things you need in the studio?

I need to vibes, I need a blunt, and I need some snacks. I need me a lemonade and some food to be honest. I won’t even say snacks, I’ll say food because I always get pizza or something in the studio. 

Something fans might not know about you?

I’m a real picky eater. I hate trying new food. I was out at dinner last night with a couple friends and they had me try oysters. And it was the cold ones. It wasn’t bad, but it’s not anything I would go for. 

Do you have a favorite food?

My favorite food probably would be burgers. If I go somewhere, I’ll get a burger real fast. Get me a burger, add bacon on it, sauce it up. [laughs]

Goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?

My biggest goal with music is literally to be the biggest artist out ever. I want that Michael Jackson impact, in rap though. I want to be the #1 rapper everybody thinks about. Who’s your favorite rapper? I want everybody to say Kidd Kenn. Kidd Kenn might not be my favorite rapper, but he can rap and he’s that rapper. I want to be a top girl. I want to sell as many records. I want to do so many videos, get all the awards. I just want to have a good, successful career.