10 Fascinating Facts You Should Definitely Know About Chika Oranika by Now
She's really happy for you, Kanye, and she's gonna let you finish, but Chika had the best freestyle diss of all time. Back in April 2018, a then-21-year-old Jane Chika Oranika posted a video aimed at Kanye West on her Instagram, never expecting that she would gain thousands of fans and followers overnight. Since then, the performer has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, modeled for Calvin Klein, released two new songs — "No Squares" and "High Rises" — and she's not showing any signs of slowing down. While we eagerly wait to see what Chika will do (and who she will take on) next, here are some fascinating facts you should know about the incredibly clever up-and-coming rapper.
She Was Raised in Montgomery, AL
Chika's parents, Dr. Emmanual Oranika and Dr. Patience Otuonye Oranika, are Nigerian immigrants who moved to the US to pursue higher education. However, for Chika, her hometown of Montgomery was only ever a place she wanted to escape from.
"With my career, you know, it has been a real driving force for me to get out of Montgomery," she explained during a September 2019 interview with Vice. "Anyone who's made it out of Montgomery is like a rose that grew out of the concrete, because there's no way we were supposed to get away from there."
She Started Writing Songs at Age 9
She may be fairly new to performing, but Chika always knew she wanted to be an artist, and she has been creating and writing lyrics since childhood. She penned her first song at the age of nine, which she called "On My Own."
"I was writing a song about wanting to pursue music and if no one was supporting me, I would do it 'on my own,'" she told Business of Fashion in October 2019. "So, I ended up writing songs all the time. Eventually did some poetry to get my angst out. And then I wanted to incorporate my poetry into my songwriting. I secretly rapped for years. I wrote rap verses but no one knew."
She Transitioned to Rapping After Posting a Viral Video on Twitter
On the night that Donald Trump was elected president, Chika and her best friend Sam created a video while watching the election unfold. In the video, Chika jokingly applied Sam's concealer to her face, which was much lighter than her skin tone. ("It was like, white on me," she recalled while speaking to Business of Fashion.) When the election was called and she and Sam were left devastated, Chika attempted to perk her up by tweeting the video, not thinking that anyone besides her friends would take notice. But then it went viral.
"It blew up because everyone thought it was hilarious," she told Business of Fashion. "But then also all the Trump supporters and other racist people came out of the woodwork and they're like, this is 'whiteface' — which doesn't even exist. They got my account suspended on Twitter for like a week or something." Luckily, she gained way more fans than haters. "It's kind of a blessing in disguise," she continued, "because if my Twitter page hadn't gotten suspended, I would've never posted it on Instagram. And that's what started my Instagram following. I gained like 17,000 followers overnight. And the next day I started rapping."
She Doesn't Like Being Called "Brave"
The self-described 'big and black, gay and vocal' rapper is often called "brave" by the media, but Chika doesn't see bravery as a compliment. As she pointed out to Vice, she has no reason to feel apologetic for being big, black, and gay — and she shouldn't be praised for existing unapologetically, either.
"I feel like the labels people place on me, like being brave, are oppressive . . . because it's underhanded," she explained. "It reinforces the standard. If you want to normalize something, don't draw attention to it. Like, yes, praise the things that are worth being praised, but for me, existing in my body is not worthy of praise."
She Rapped at Kanye Because She Thought It Was the Only Way He Would Listen
In April 2018, after getting fed up with Kanye West's frequent tweets supporting President Trump and thoughtless comments suggesting slavery was a choice, Chika spoke up. On Instagram, she posted a freestyle rap over Kanye's "Jesus Walks" beat, and she called out Kanye for misusing his platform.
When asked by Time in April 2019 about her choice to call him out via rap, Chika explained that she thought it was the only way he would pay attention. "I felt like the only way to directly get to him was to talk to him over his own song," she said. "That's the most Kanye thing you could possibly do because he's going to listen."
She Feels Compelled to Acknowledge Social Issues, Especially Those Concerning Alabama
In May 2019, Chika debuted a brand-new song, "Richey vs. Alabama" on Jimmy Kimmel Live, referring to the anti-abortion bill signed by the state's Republican governor. When asked by Uproxx in July 2019 what inspired her to make the political statement, Chika said that she couldn't imagine not acknowledging the bill when she had the opportunity and the platform.
". . . when I see something bad happening, I always have to say something about it, even if it's to my detriment," she said. "I feel like art is probably the best way to have a happy medium between being that person who's always being a red flag waver at all times and also being able to call out things that you think are important. It doesn't always seem like an inspiration or choice, it mostly feels like a stream of consciousness."
She Got in Trouble for Hanging a 'Black Lives Matter' Flyer in High School
Chika has never been afraid to express herself, and the first time she was criticized for being "vocal" was in high school, when she was a senior at Montgomery's Booker T. Washington Magnet School. Following the tragedies in Ferguson, MO; Coney Island, NY; and Alexander City, AL, Chika paid homage to those lost lives by printing a flyer and hanging it in the hall of her high school.
She created an 8x11-inch poster displaying an American flag on top and the words "BLACK LIVES MATTER" along the bottom. As a result, she was suspended. "The principal hated it," Chika told Business of Fashion. "It became a huge deal. My principal said I was being divisive, but that was a statement that we all should be able to agree on."
1 of Her Favorite Books Growing Up was About Ruby Bridges
In childhood, one of the first stories that Chika really connected with was that of Ruby Bridges, who was the first African-American student to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. As Chika told Business of Fashion, she could relate to the feeling of being unjustly discriminated.
"I remember seeing the image of her escorted in by the cops," Chika said. "Five police officers with a small-ass girl and there's like white kids and white families just jeering and throwing insults at them. I think that's when I, being like a little black girl as well who was currently the same age as she was . . . I saw myself reflected in that. I think that's when I began to realize, like, 'Oh they don't like us here.' I'm like, 'That's okay. Got it.'"
She Doesn't Want to Be Known as a "Fat Rapper"
After posing for the Calvin Klein #MY CALVINS campaign in Spring 2019, Chika was lauded for participating, but all that love felt disingenuous. It seemed all anyone could focus on was her size, and Chika spoke out about not wanting to be known as a "fat rapper," but just a rapper.
"I kept on being called fatphobic for telling publications you don't need to label me a fat rapper," she told Vice. "It's redundant and rude. You wouldn't go up to someone and be like, you're a fat lawyer, or a fat doctor, so why is that acceptable if you're a musician? I feel like I shouldn't have to talk so much about my outer shell; it's just so unnecessary and really weird."
She Wants Her Music to Help People Get Back in Touch With Themselves
Chika doesn't just want to enter the game — she wants to change the game. She creates with a mission, and her mission is to spread self-awareness and positivity through her music.
"I want to change the way that people process emotions," she told Time. "I want to bring back what's real and let people be more in touch with themselves. Not all rap, of course, but some of it is so fabricated and narcissistic, because we build this wall up around ourselves so that no one can hurt us as rappers and musicians. I want to strip that away and show that you can still make bangers that have a message and it doesn't have to be corny and contrived; it can just be positive and it can be real."