Nia Kay

From Chicago to Atlanta: Nia Kay's Journey in Hip-Hop


Sep. 30 2023, Published 9:38 p.m. ET

Nia Kay is not a new face for Gen Z, — she hails from the Windy City, and her claim to fame was her catchy hooks and fierce freestyle ability in the reality music competition, The Rap Game.

Shortly after the competition, she started making music, and her catalogue at the time featured top Chicago artists like Dreezy.

She later relocated to Atlanta, where she got the spotlight for her hit song "Real," featuring Asian Doll. Moving from Chicago to Atlanta has influenced her style of music in different ways. Let's explore this in detail.

Influence of a New Musical Culture

Chicago and Atlanta are both known for their vibrant hip-hop music scenes, but the sub-genre popular in the two cities has shaped Nia Kay's music style. Growing up in Chicago, her early exposure to hip-hop was “aggressive” thanks to influences such as Chicago rappers Chief Keef and Lil Durk.

Nia Kay's style of music was inspired by the newer urban hip-hop sound "Drill", which emerged in the early 2010s. What makes "Drill" unique is its slower tempo and hard-hitting baselines.

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“Growing up in Chicago influenced my aggressive side. How I rap, the way you feel it coming directly at you, that’s Chicago,” she told Wonderland magazine. “My city will forever speak through my music and it’s the reason I don’t play about my craft.”

The subgenre’s raw lyrics about the daily struggles of poor Black communities shaped Nia Kay's aggressive style of rap.

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Sounds Influenced From Different Productions

Leaving her hometown to Atlanta opened Nia Kay to a world of opportunities as she was exposed to new industry players, including music producers and hip-hop artists. Music producers play a critical role in shaping the sound of hip-hop.

Admittedly, every producer has a unique way of creating basslines, drum beats, and even musical instruments. Depending on how they include these musical elements, it brings about a different vibe and mood for a song. Working with Atlanta producers transformed her songwriting and delivery, evident in her latest songs, such as "Treat Me Like" — but she is still repping Chicago in her sound.

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“I moved to Atlanta for fresh scenery. You know something with a different vibe. And too just have more fun with my music. I feel like moving to Atlanta, there was a lot more peace when it came to the music,” she explained to Untitled magazine. “Chicago is a really hard city. It’s my hometown, and I’m going to rep it till I die. But I did move to Atlanta, to get out there more. To network with new people and see a different side.

She continued, “My music definitely represents Chicago. I don’t represent Atlanta because I’m from Chicago. So my music style, how I rap, everything is from Chicago. What I talk about, you know, is my grittiness. Everything is Chicago. I just moved to Atlanta to further my career but that’s not where my roots are.”

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Hip-hop music helps to share the issues that young black people face in their communities. A prevalent issue in both cities is gang violence and poverty, but each of these cities has its unique challenges. Her experiences in Atlanta and her home have helped her adapt to a music style to appeal to fans from both cities.

A Musical Switch Bringing Transformative Changes

A new crop of hip-hop artists is emerging by the day and changing the music scene, Nia Kay being one of them. Most people knew about her after appearing in a rap music competition in Atlanta, where she always pushed herself to improve.

To get more exposure, she moved from Chicago to Atlanta, which has proven to be beneficial in her musical career.

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