Before LightSkinKeisha was taking the stage as a rapper, her first taste of stardom came as a competitive cheerleader as a 7-year-old. Devoting herself to the craft for 13 years — “With working out, conditioning, training, and performing in front of hundreds of people, it taught me how to work hard and to be a team player,” she said in a Zoom interview — cheerleading laid the foundation for her to get out of her shy shell and transform into the up-and-coming rapper (and actor) she’s now known as.
“I ain’t know if I was going to be a singer [or] rapper, because I can do both,” she said. “I knew that I was going to be an entertainer, and I just knew I wanted to be my own boss.”
Although Keisha has always had a natural knack for performing, it took time for her to believe in herself. Her mother was one of her biggest supporters, constantly pushing her to hone her crafts — singing, gymnastics, and cheerleading — and even encouraging her to use a studio in her childhood home. Thanks to cheerleading, Keisha began to embrace her abilities as a performer, and that confidence only grew as she began rapping for her classmates in high school.
By 2018, she had gradually begun to make a name for herself as a rapper, thanks to stand-out singles like “Weather” and “Treadmill,” resulting in a record deal with industry legend L.A. Reid. The same year, she signed with Hitco Entertainment and released her first full-length project, That’s Just The Bottom Line. Her decision to quit working service hobs and go after her rap aspirations full-time had paid off and continues to as she continues to craft her own version of female rap.
Filled with brash soliloquies and catchy lines paired with bouncy trap beats, Kiesha’s music has already grown so much. Break The Bank, her latest project released last year, features some of her most energetic work to date — from “Blue Hunnids” to the Trina-featuring “Freaky Dancer.” As for this year, so far she’s released a new single, “Pop Sh*t Queen.”
“For me, this song is personal because I’m popping my shit on anybody who doubted me. Anybody who’s against me. I don’t give a fuck, I’m confident,” she said. “What I want the fans to take from it is that [you can] build your confidence and pop your shit too.”
Her distinct rap style, as well as her consistency with releasing new music, has amassed her a dedicated following and millions of streams over the past three years. In total, her three most recent albums — Clones, Talk that Talk, and Break The Bank — have garnered 25 million listens on Spotify alone. She also engages with her 2.4 million followers on TikTok, posting snippets of new singles, participating in viral challenges, and allowing fans a glimpse of her life at home.
Her rap career has also led to her having a burgeoning career in acting. The confidence she brings to the rap game is how she landed the role of BruShandria on the 2020 hit Power spinoff series, Power Book II: Ghost, created by Courtney A. Kemp.
“When I first met [the show’s creator] Courtney, she was telling me she admired certain things about [me],” Keisha said.
A college student who attends a prestigious college with Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr.), BruShandria is animated, outspoken, and self-assured, with the character playing a significant role in creating conflict between Tariq and his girlfriend Lauren (Paige Hurd) in the show’s second season.
For Keisha, playing BruShandria is something she does proudly, sharing that the role was created to dismantle negative stereotypes about Black women from the hood and those who grew up in poverty. But she also finds similarities in her character, adding: “I’m a very outspoken girl, I’m very spunky, fun [and] I got my little ratchet side, but I’m still very intelligent.”
Power Book II: Ghost is notable in its inclusion of strong Black female figures on the show — from Keisha’s BruShandria to Mary J. Blige’s Monet Tejada — and the rapper is grateful her journey has led her to such an opportunity.
“I feel like people try to doubt Black women [so] it’s amazing to be among [them] and to be included in this conversation,” she said. “I haven’t met [Mary] yet. She’s so iconic from fashion to music, even to acting. It’s so good to see her get her flowers.”
This gratefulness also extends to other members of the show’s star-studded cast. For instance, when she appears in scenes with Larenz Tate (who portrays Rashad Tate), she said she often reflects on him being respected as an actor for decades and leaves scenes feeling as though she’s been in the presence of a living legend who starred in two of her favorite films (Menace II Society and Love Jones).
Although she can’t share spoilers for the series finale airing this Sunday (February 6), Keisha said that everyone’s actions are answered for in the upcoming episode. As for the rest of her 2022, the rapper plans to keep releasing music, working on other creative endeavors, and appearing in season three of Power Book II: Ghost, which is currently filming.
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