Check out our exclusive interview with Chinese Kitty.
Brooklyn, New York’s own Chinese Kitty just dropped her debut studio album SMD on June 25th and is finally achieving the success she’s been working so hard towards. Growing up, Kitty’s parents both worked in and around the music industry so from a young age she knew what path she wanted to follow. Hip Hop surrounded Kitty’s life, her father Nitti worked behind-the-scenes with Fabulous, DJ Clue and the Desert Storm Crew, while her mother was a stylist and fashion editor at The Source. It may have taken a while for Kitty to go after her dreams but she knew she wanted to attain the same lifestyle and success that came from music.
Kitty’s mom put her on to Lil Kim, while she grew up on artists like Nicki Minaj so her sound today is a combination of grit and feminine energy. As a child Kitty would battle rap with her sibling developing her skillset, but it wasn’t until she turned 20 and had her son that she decided to seriously pursue music. Although Kitty had been raised around music she cultivated her own brand and an impressive social media following as a bartender and NYC nightlife “it-girl.” Heeding words of encouragement from her mother and watching Cardi B.’s rise to fame, Kitty decided to release her own music and dropped “Kitty Walk” in 2018. Following this release Kitty reached out to Hitmaka and ended up on the “Thotbox” remix with Young MA, Dreezy, Dream Doll and Mulatto. In 2019 Kitty released her mixtape Kitty Bandz which was positively a received and even landed her on stage at Rolling Loud. Once quarantine struck Kitty dove into her music and began working on what would become her debut album SMD. Fast forward to a year later and not only is the album out, it’s doing numbers and taking Kitty to the next level. “I’m a mom, a female rapper, an entrepreneur, a young boss making her way in a male industry, and I’m living my life,” Kitty says. “I want girls to know my story, listen to my music, and realize you could be a mom and still be a bad bitch. I want you to feel good all around. I want equal power within the field. I’m not coming to play, and I’m not stopping. I’m going to keep going,” says Kitty on how she’s going to change the game. Find out more about what Kitty had to say in our exclusive interview below.
The Knockturnal: What was it like growing up with a father in the music industry?
Chinese Kitty: It paved a way for me and inspired me because I’ve been around it for so long, I’ve seen him work with so many artists and do things in the industry that I kind of already felt like I had to be in the music industry some way somehow.
The Knockturnal: What’s your favorite music related memory of your father from your childhood?
Chinese Kitty: I would say one time when I was 10 years old, T.I had threw a birthday party for his daughter and we’re all the same age and it was the first time where I was around mad celebrities and celebritie’s kids and even though my family was behind the scenes, I still got a taste of what it was like to see the different side of life and it definitely made me want to be in it no matter what.
The Knockturnal: Did your father’s legacy motivate you to pursue a career in music?
Chinese Kitty: I would definitely say so. Him and my mom. My mom used to work in all those magazines, she used to style a lot of people, my dad was doing music behind the scenes. I could have taken a path and do another lifestyle or worked another job but I always was around the glitz and the glam and I felt like, you know me and my personality is that and I felt like I wanted that and needed that.
The Knockturnal: At what age did you start experimenting with music?
Chinese Kitty: I was experimenting with music since I was younger because my dad would always have us in the studio. You get influenced especially by your parents or who you’re around so even my son, he’s 5 and I have him on my album because he knows how to do music, he knows how to rap, it’s so crazy. Definitely when I was younger, like 15 or 16 I would try to spit a couple bars or do whatever.
The Knockturnal: How old were you when you started taking music seriously as a career?
Chinese Kitty: I was 21 because like I said before I’ve been around this my whole life. When I was 18,19,20 I was just playing around doing nothing crazy trying to make some money, trying to build my own name like let people know who I was versus being anybody’s daughter. When I had my son I had him at 20 years old and I just got to a point where I was like I can’t live in the same lifestyle, I can’t go bartend, I can’t go do these things like it’s not cute being just a cute face anymore, I wanted to put my foot down and go after what I really wanted in life and that’s why I decided to do music.
The Knockturnal: How did you go from bartending to rapping full time?
Chinese Kitty: I actually got so fed up with nightlife. I was going through so many people and fights and I just couldn’t do that anymore and I just stopped completely and quit. I had been on Love & Hip Hop for a year and I think that’s what made me get to know a little bit more about the music industry and how to maneuver on my own. So I set my own studio sessions, set my own things up and I started working with my manager who was my manager from bartending. He was so connected and still connected that I told him I wanted to do music and he was like ‘you sure?’ and I was like ‘yeah!’ and from there on there were studio sessions and I never stopped working since then.
The Knockturnal: What have been the 3 biggest highlights of your career so far?
Chinese Kitty: 3 biggest highlights I would definitely say that I solidified myself and people really got to know and hear me as an artist with my first big song “Thot Box” from Hitmaka. My second biggest thing is signing with my new management and my new deal with the Salxco empire has definitely shaaped me into the artist I am today. My third is me just dropping my album and the love that I’m getting is just beautiful.
The Knockturnal: How do you balance being a rapper and a mom?
Chinese Kitty: At first it was a lot because I had just set my foot in the door and had to do shows and go to the studio at like 5 am and be up all night and you know coming home by the time he’s waking up, it was a lot. I was completely tired, and I kind of felt like I was neglecting the whole motherhood thing for a minute because I wasn’t home enough. Now I feel like I’ve gotten a groove with my son where he understands. I try to take off weeks where I’m home chillin and then just straight back to music. Now I feel there’s a balance between all of it.
The Knockturnal: What was it like linking up with French Montana and Fivio Foreign on “Lit Bitch?”
Chinese Kitty: Those are really my bros and that’s crazy how I’ve known them since 18/19, you know like I said I’ve been outside and doing things and Fivio actually was dating a girl that I was friends with and she would always pop up into my studio sessions when was I recording Lit Bitch and there was only one verse in there and she was like this is hard and R.I.P Pop Smoke – it was only two people who was doing the drill thing at the time and it was Fivi and Pop Smoke. I was like I don’t know if we can get Pop on it but reach out to Fivio and see if he’ll hop on it and we FaceTimed him and he’s like that’s dope Kitty, I got you. We had a studio session with him and he hopped on it and bodied his verse and I was so excited. Then I sign with my new management Salxco, they also managed French and he’s known me for a minute too, so when we linked up he was like ‘oh lit’ and so I played him the song with Fivio’s verse on it and he was like this is New York, this is fire, im hopping on it. I couldn’t believe it at first that I got a song with them two.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about your debut album SMD, how did you choose the title and what was like working on a project during quarantine?
Chinese Kitty: SMD came about during quarantine, I had no direction of where I wanted to go before the pandemic, I knew I had “Thot Box” and I had my mixtape before, I knew I had a bunch of songs but I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I wanted to put it out and I remember I had got a DM from this person who works for Salxco and she reached out to me saying you’re dope you should come to LA and I ended up playing the songs I had and all I had was “Lit Bitch” and it was just one verse and I played it for Sal and he told me ‘if you could make an entire album we can go from there.’ I went back to New York and I had nothing but time because it was corona and it was completely shut down. I was in the studio literally every single day and I created my album and I had the best music on there because I had nothing but time to create and make the best and perfect it. I came up with the title SMD because like I said I went from bartending – I went from oh thats Kitty she’s been out she used to go out and go to the nightclub like is she really an artist or is this a thing she’s trying to do for clout – people never see the grind or how you have to be up late at night and me being a mom having to take off time from my son and being in the studio because this is what I really want and I’m from New York, the most disrespectful thing to say to somebody is ‘suck my d*ck’ and you know when you put so much into something it’s just that you want to show people ‘like shut up’ and thats my way of saying ‘shut the f*ck up’ and I came up with the name SMD.
The Knockturnal: Can we expect more visuals from the project?
Chinese Kitty: Yes, I literally shot a video to almost every song and there’s like 12 or 13 songs on the project and there’s a good 8 videos so I’m dropping them like every two weeks.
The Knockturnal: What else are you working on and what do you have on the way?
Chinese Kitty: Right now my main focus is SMD and I literally just dropped it like 4 or 5 days ago, my main focus is doing as much as I can with this project. There’s also so much more music outside of this project so I can’t wait to just keep dropping and dropping and people are going to be sick of me but they’re gonna love me.
The Knockturnal: Anyone else you’re looking to collaborate with?
Chinese Kitty: Yes! I’d love a song with Doja Cat, we have the same management team and I’m definitely gonna get that done.