West Baltimore native Miss Kam is coming heavy this year and putting everyone on notice.
Homegrown talent Miss Kam always knew she had a thing for music. “I was just thinking the other day how I used to get on my mother’s phone and just record myself singing on there and stuff like that,” she says speaking on her younger days. “It would be nothing that I ever wrote down. I would just make up songs on the spot and then when I was in middle school, I would play around and freestyle with the boys and stuff and same thing in high school.” Her knack for thinking of bars at a moment’s notice followed her into the start of her music career and it’s helped her become Baltimore’s most promising act breathing new life into the city’s music scene.
Many who know Miss Kam’s name were first introduced to her back in 2017 after a video of her freestyling swarmed social media. Everyone’s first question following the viral video was, “who is this and where did she come from?” She’s come a long way since her #FreestyleFridays, and now she’s stepping into her own as she pushes herself to become a more established artist confident in her sound.
— MiSS KAM (@HEYMISSKAM) July 19, 2018
Though Kam always had a plan to pursue music in some form or fashion, according to her it was fellow artist Doowy Lloh that gave her the push she needed. “Once I got older, like 18, I met [him] and one day we were just playing around because I was at one of my mutual friend’s house and they actually were producers,” she reveals to me. “They made beats, directed and everything. I was just freestyling on the beat and he was like, ‘Oh, you can actually rap for real.’ He was on my case and saying like, ‘Yeah, you should really get in the studio, blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, whatever, okay.'” It wasn’t until her freestyle video surfaced online that Lloh decided it was time for them to get in the studio together. From there, Kam’s first song, “No Bluffin,” was born and ever since, everything in her career has naturally fallen into place – proving to her that this is the life she was made for. “I feel like if this wasn’t meant to happen then so much wouldn’t have happened already.”
“It kind of went from playing around to taking it serious and it’s really going far. [Music] has always been something I wanted to do but I just never had the discipline or the support system to push me to go there for real.”
You’d think most artists would be full steam ahead after dropping their first single, but Kam took a detour to re-assess her path and find herself in the world before returning to making music. “I knew that I wasn’t ready mentally, financially, whatever, but my skill was there,” she says. “I took a break for real and I just lived life and then I started making my presence known again.” The peace of mind during that brief break gave Kam the clarity she needed to adjust her missteps as a new artist and find her lane. She did that and more while reaching another major milestone in her career – her first live performance at Late Registration back in 2018.
— MiSS KAM (@HEYMISSKAM) August 27, 2018
“That was literally my very first show and it was crazy for real,” she shares. “I was real nervous, but I just thought of it as the chance to really see what I was made of for real and if this is really what was meant for me. I just really love performing and stuff and I just never looked back.” Following that show, Kam started getting booked left and right – from “808: The Sadboi Series” to “Butch Dawson & Friends” and everything in between. The rush she gained from performing became a sweet addiction and only strengthened her skills as a growing artist. “It’s like, you know how you feel turned up with your friends? You’re at a party or something where it’s like that one person, when they start cutting up then everybody start cutting up and then the whole party live for real,” she tells me. “It’s like, that’s real. I hate being the center of attention, but it’s like, if you’re on stage you got to do that sh*t for real and just have fun with everybody. It’s really fun. It’s like a big ass party to me, every time, every time.”
She translated that same energy onstage into the booth where she trained herself how to properly record music. “I had to learn how to perform in the studio and not in the sense of performing like I’m on a stage, but I had to learn how to make my voice sound good on a song” – a musical trait many of her peers are still learning to perfect. Her mindset in the studio has evolved since she first start taking her music seriously. No longer was she interested in making music for just anybody, she identified her core audience and honed in on catering to their tastes. The conscious decision wasn’t just a change in her approach as a recording artist, it signaled a desire to work on her craft for the betterment of her music in the long run.
One thing Kam wants to set the record straight on is the titles she chooses to go by. Whether she’s labelled as a rapper or artist, she doesn’t want to be put in a box because to her, her talents stretch beyond just rap. Her many collaborations with other Baltimore artists like Baby Kahlo, Zadia, and others is all the more proof that her sound doesn’t stick to one particular style. And if that’s not enough her debut album, Tew Faced, is all the evidence you need to conclude her sound is transcending the traditional sense of what women in rap are supposed to sound like. From her hard-hitting, gritty rhymes that she can bark on a track to her soft-tone harmonious voice she switches to every now and then, Kam’s versatility is one-of-a-kind and something we’ve yet to see from a Baltimore artist. Coming from the west side of the city, she takes pride in her hometown and its music crowd simply because they accepted her as a newcomer and gave her the tools she needed to be great. “At first I was a consumer and a watcher and then it’s like, I got into it so it’s definitely a feeling of honor, genuinely, that I was even accepted into the scene with graciousness for real,” she shares with me. “They just could have been like, ‘Nope, f**k you’ and not let you in, you feel me? But it wasn’t that so just with knowing that I came in and that’s the type of love that the community showed after years of watching Baltimore artists having this chip on their shoulders. It’s definitely very tight.”
“It means a lot to come from a place that’s so slighted in so many ways. Being able to witness from the inside out, it’s about to be a lot of sh*t popping off. That’s cool and it just feels like a lot of strength, genuinely. I feel like any artist in Baltimore right now has the ball in their court and there’s so many people in the game right now, so there’s really no way that anybody could lose for real.”
What’s so special about this Renaissance period that Baltimore is experiencing right now is all the artists in the city showing a new level of camaraderie and embracing one another to dispel the “crabs in a barrel” mentality we’re typically known for. Everyone in the music scene is leveling up and showing love in a way that’s changing the narrative for Baltimore. To Kam, things are going so well now it’s as though “you don’t have to leave Baltimore to be successful.” The mentorship she’s received from producers and artists like T. Ali, Fortytheplug, Ddm, Al Rogers Jr., and her partner Chris Cassius – many of which belong to local collective Tew World Order – has played a major role in shaping the early stages of her music career and even now as she continues to flourish. The relationships and projects she’s contributed to have earned Kam recognition inside as well as outside of the city – most notably a nod from music legend Missy Elliott for her “We Are the World” single featuring Zadia.
“Bro, I… Oh my God…,” she starts. “First of all, I was very surprised because it was like one of those things where I wanted her to see one of these freestyles I posted a couple months earlier. And I kept telling everybody to tag her and she didn’t see it. I don’t know if she didn’t see it, but she just didn’t say nothing for real. I was just like, ‘Dang, all right.’ I just kept working, kept working and then you just see how things happen when you kind of let [them] go and keep on focusing. It was almost like, wow, that moment when you realize, ‘Okay, things really do happen if you just keep working towards them,’ and it felt deserved. I was like, ‘Okay, shoot, if Missy’s helping me, the person that I f*ck with, I must be doing something right.’ That was the battery in my back for real.” That boost online from her idol was just what Kam needed to push forward and so she finally dropped, dare I say, the most anticipated debut album out of Baltimore from a female rapper.
With everything that Miss Kam does, she always goes all out – which is why she waited until the very last day of 2020 to introduce her first-ever full length album to the world. Tew Faced – described as Kam’s way of telling her own story – was the culmination of a year’s worth of music that was originally slated to release on May 27, Kam’s birthday. Then of course, the pandemic hit and changed the entire rollout timing, which ended up working out in Kam’s favor. “I feel like the pandemic was actually good,” she says to me. “I’m glad that it stopped me in my tracks because had I put Tew Faced out in May, it just would have never did anything that it was supposed to do.” The time away in quarantine gave Kam a refreshed outlook on how she wanted to release her debut album. From the timeline to the promo, she had everything laid out to make the biggest splash of the year – and this time it was on her terms.
Like many artists’ debuts, Kam wanted to reintroduce herself to the world in a way where listeners could better understand her as an artist and a human being still learning and growing. “I think I gave a lot of people time to formulate their own perception of me and a lot of people got it right, a lot of people got it wrong,” she says. “A lot of people just left it open and listened for it in the album, which I also appreciate, but I wanted to really peel back the layers and offer something different other than what people hear normally, especially when it comes to me because I know people are used to a certain sound. When they hear Miss Kam it’s real rough, it’s real aggressive and be down with a mosh pit, but it can definitely get deeper than that. I kind of wanted to have a lot of shock value for real and have it to be something timeless.”
For her very-first album, Kam was determined to leave an impact if nothing else, and create something so unique it was incomparable. Tew Faced had range, character, twists, turns, and balance all in one. Outside of Kam revealing another side of herself through her music, she made sure the album had something for everyone. Songs like “Fight Night” and “Problem Child” delivered sharp, head-busting bars from the Kam day-one fans were already familiar with, whereas a track like “FTCU (F**k That Check Up)” shocked us all with a whole new sound and surprise features from Ddm and Kotic Coture. Kam even let her guard down and talked about things like her relationship with her father and faith in God – a more vulnerable perspective that worked well in accomplishing the album’s goal.
“A lot of it was purging things that I had never said before, genuinely. A lot of it was me saying exactly how I wanted to say things so I know that people are going to hear it. I wanted it to really sit with people whether it stings, whether if it was good, even when it comes to the faith and stuff like that. I know people aren’t going to agree with a lot of that stuff, I don’t care. It’s important to me.” What shouldn’t be overlooked on this debut album is that fact that almost 100% of the writing came straight from Kam’s pen – with the exception of Ddm, Kotic Coture, and Chris Cassius’ verses. Tew Faced wasn’t just an album made for Kam, it was a homegrown project she shared with her fellow music peers. “It’s all of us attached to it and I always tell everybody it’s really bigger than me, for real, because they’re the ones who encouraged me to start and they’ve invested a lot of time, energy, money, and love for real. So, I just had to have them there with me.”
Miss Kam is still very much in the prime of her career and she’s just getting started. Beyond promoting her debut album, she plans to roll out visuals, continue pushing her limited edition merch line, and hopefully get back to performing once the pandemic is over. I ask her when it’s all said and done if she can imagine a world without Miss Kam. She thinks for a moment and responds, “it’d be weird, but yeah.” Even if rapping and making music wasn’t an option, Kam still has big plans for her future. For now, she’s keeping her focus on being a budding artist. “I ain’t going to lie, in the next two years I better be touching millions. And I’m not saying that in a cocky sense, but at this point I just know that sh*t’s got to go up, for real as long as I keep putting in the work. I’m not saying anything is going to be handed me, but I feel like as long as I keep on keeping on the way I’ve been, the blessings will keep on coming in.”