A Q&A with Chika
Chances are you're currently reading this all snug and cozy from under a rock if you haven't heard of Chika yet. She's the 20 year old queer Black singer/songwriter/rapper/poet taking the internet by storm, and we got to sit down and ask her a few questions.
There's a good chance that at some point in your digital life, you've come across Jane Oranika. Jane, better known by her stage name "Chika," skyrocketed to internet fame in November, 2016 when she posted a video of herself putting on white makeup after Donald Trump was elected. The video went viral on Twitter and Instagram as well as got Chika's Twitter account banned.
After a few days and much pushing by her fans old and new, Chika managed to get her Twitter account back - and we're so glad she did. The woman is all that and a bag of chips. The multifaceted artist has garnered over hundreds of thousands of views and listens to her covers and challenges, most recently being her PRIDE anthem remake of Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You.' She recently dropped her first poetry EP, Full Bloom, on Sound Cloud. She's a force to be reckoned with, and we got to get inside her head a little bit.
Photos by Michael McKitt
First of all, your name is beautiful. Where's it from? I mean that
both etymologically and heritage-wise. Why did your parents pick it?
What's your "back story?"
CHIKA: Thank you, first of all. My name is Jane, but my middle name is Chika. It’s Nigerian. I’m not really sure why my parents picked my name, besides the fact that it means “God is supreme.” It’s lowkey a common name. As for my story, I was born to two Nigerian immigrants. I was raised in Montgomery, Alabama. Culturally, I’ve been exposed to two completely contrasting views and I think that plays a lot into who I am. It’s kind of cool. Music and art have been my life since forever.
Basic questions first: How long have you been in the game? What
made you decide to take this from hobby to career?
CHIKA: I’ve been interested in music since I could talk. I started singing at 2, playing piano at 8, taught myself guitar at 11. I’ve been writing music since 11 as well, and honestly from there poetry and rap came easily. So technically, I’ve been at this for 18 years, lol. I started taking myself seriously in high school, because I knew that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but being a full time artist. I realized that was my purpose pretty early on.
You decided to forego college for a career. How did your family and friends respond to that?
CHIKA: My parents were scared for me. Coming from another country, they put a lot of value on education because it’s what made them successful. I knew it wasn’t for me though. My friends kind of looked at me crazy, but they’re young and invested in their own paths so they didn’t care that much.
You made that f*cking hilarious video after 45 stole the election
and Twitter banned your account. What was that like?
CHIKA: It was helllla annoying, but still kind of comforting. I got so much love and was able to laugh at the situation. It’s crazy because I was so distracted by getting my account back and responding to the positive aspects of the video going viral that I was able to escape the immediate depression from realizing that a carrot was elected as president.
Equally influential, you started the 'Ego Challenge.' Tell me more
about what inspired that.
CHIKA: To be completely honest, everyone tends to expect an elaborate answer for this but I don’t really have one. I went through a rough patch where I wasn’t creating and I was down on myself. Then one night, I said to myself: “Light, get in the shower. Relax, and when you come out, write what’s on your heart.” I did that, and I guess what I needed to hear myself say was something uplifting. I was playing songs and the second beat I played was Ego by Beyoncé. The words came quickly and the next day I shared it, not expecting the huge response. I made it a challenge just for the fun of it and to make people spread some self-love, and the rest is history. It’s still cool to me looking back how far that went. Really dope.
You took a break from social media for mental health reasons. What did that look like for you? How do you help yourself heal?
CHIKA: I struggle with anxiety and depression. As a budding social media influencer, I’ve had to adjust to doing everything for a response. Art at one point was my escape and once the spotlight shifted to me, my art became a career and I had no form of emotional release. I was subconsciously bottling shit up and it was bad, so I took a step back and got my mind right. I think it’s important to self-check and take care of yourself because no one else will.
Full Bloom. Let's talk about it. What was the inspiration behind that?
CHIKA: Man, Full Bloom was random. I had been writing self-reflective poetry for an album. But I’ve grown so much since conceptualizing that project that I knew holding on to those pieces would be pointless. I wrote them from such a genuine place. Very raw and honest. I feel as though I’m currently coming into my own and those poems give you a glimpse into that. I’ve come full circle, so I called it Full Bloom.
Gun to your head, you have to pick. Which is your favorite piece from Full Bloom?
CHIKA: You could deadass put a feather to my head and I’d still say “Bloom” is my favorite. I wrote it the night before I released the EP. That was the easiest and most open poem I’ve written in a while. I love it.
If you could make a track with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
CHIKA: That’s such a hard question. Michael Jackson is my favorite artist of all time, so my knee-jerk reaction is to say him, but our vibes are so different. Alive, I’d love to work with Smino or Daniel Caesar. Prince and I could’ve made some bops as well, lol.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 13-year-old self,
what would it be?
CHIKA: I’d tell myself to sleep more, speak my mind more, and trust the process. Because it pays off.
If you had one hope for your 30-year-old self, what would it be?
CHIKA: I want to be accomplished, in a personal sense. Fuck a Grammy, and money, all that. I want to look in the mirror and know that I did everything I said I was gonna do.
Coke or Pepsi?
CHIKA: Coke Zero is undefeated and anyone who says otherwise can fight me.
Chipotle or Qdoba?
CHIKA: I’ve never had Qdoba, and I used to work at ‘Potle, so I’m biased.
Popeyes or KFC?
CHIKA: Popeyes. But we can all agree that both are better than the liquefied fat that is Church’s Chicken.
What's something most people don't know about you that you wish they knew?
CHIKA: I’m shy as hell. I’m not bougie or lazy, I literally don’t reply to texts and DMs because I’m nervous all the time, lmao.
Now that Full Bloom is out, what's next? What's in the works for
CHIKA: A mixtape of full versions of my IG covers. A single coming soon. Honestly, anything is possible. I know just as much about my next move as y’all do. I trust my gut and I’m impulsive. Just believe me when I say, my future is looking promising.
Last question: What's one thing you'd like to say to all your fans
and the readers of SDEL?
CHIKA: Resist anything that isn’t true to you; politically, artistically, and personally. Watch your life flourish after that. + Thanks for supporting me and SDEL.