equality factor: powerfully vulnerable voice of a young female finding herself
producer: Anton Göransson, Archer, Cam Griffin, Derrick Milano, Kiana Ledé, Mike Woods, Mr. Franks, Patrick McManus, Rice N’ Peas & Roark Bailey
based in: Los Angeles, CA
label: Republic Records
Arizona-born R'n'B singer Kiana Ledé Brown finally released her highly-anticipated debut album "KIKI" on April 3rd, her 23rd birthday. The album is a soulful mix of playfully cocky tunes and ballads, perfectly blending together into the soundtrack of sharing a cocktail with friends on a glowingly warm summer afternoon. While the seventeen tracks truthfully showcase the personality of a young woman who has found her musical voice, it quickly becomes clear: Kiana Ledé is only getting started.
"I want women to know that you can be vulnerable and strong - that you can be in control and not be taken advantage of."
Kiana Ledé Brown was born to a Native American and Mexican mother and Native American and African American father in Phoenix, Arizona on April 3rd, 1997. Growing up with little to no money, Kiana spent her early years teaching herself how to sing, first at the age of three with the help of a karaoke machine, and later in school plays and pageants. She began taking piano lessons to further fine-tune her musical skills and went on to win the 2011 KIDZ Star USA Grand Prize out of 45,000 submissions, the largest American talent competition for kids ages 15 and under. After releasing several singles aimed at a younger audience, among which "Hey Chica", a song of with a message of self-empowerment and feeling confident in your own skin, she released her first EP "Soulfood Sessions" in 2015. This EP was the first to list Kiana herself among the songwriters, alongside none other than fellow teen superstar Justin Bieber. In 2016, she starred as a series regular in MTV's teen horror series "Scream".
After parting ways with RCA Records, Kiana released her sophomore EP "Selfless" under Republic Records in 2018. Slowly letting go of the typical teenage image, Kiana first showed a more confident and cheeky side of herself on this EP, featuring the hit song "Ex". Finally, before beginning her work on the now freshly released "KIKI", Kiana Ledé released a third EP, titled "Myself" in 2019. Just looking at the titles of Kiana's previous works, this young artist's journey towards finding her own voice and style, both within music and life, becomes obvious. From the music-focused "Soulfoof Sessions" and the autobiographic but rather shy "Selfless", to the more confident and grown-up sound and vibes of "Myself" and "KIKI" - Kiana Ledé's discography reminisces the musical memoir of a young artist.
"The music is the most me its ever been."
"KIKI", titled after the nickname Kiana's friends and family call her, is a tribute to becoming yourself, fully embracing yourself and your womanhood. From its cover art, shot in front of Kiana's childhood home in Arizona to the music and lyrics, the album captures the essence of a young artist's coming-of-age work. With all its shiny facets, ranging from the cocky vibes of the lead single "Mad At Me." to the melancholic "Forfeit.", featuring Lucky Daye, "KIKI" is a reflection of the woman Kiana Ledé has become over the years.
The album starts off with the groovy getting-over-him anthem "Cancelled.", a head-nodding song that will build up anyone who just had their heart broken with its empowering lyrics. It smoothly transitions between sexy swerve songs like "Honest." or "Chocolate.", featuring Ari Lennox, the sound of bittersweet revenge ("Plenty More."), thoughtful ballads and playful songs carried by confidence and well-built beats ("Labels.", featuring BIA and Moneybagg Yo). The first full listen of the impressive seventeen tracks makes for a wholesome afternoon soundtrack, blending into a sexy-smooth soundscape. However, the more frequently one enjoys this album, the more its clever lyrics and catchy choruses take over the listening experience. Every deep dive into "KIKI" offers new insights into the artists' personality and musical range, without ever breaking character.
"I want everyone who hears my music to know that I am no victim. I am in control of my own destiny and path, and I embrace all the flaws and mistakes I have made because they make up who I am."
From perfectly chosen features of similar-minded fierce females like Ari Lennox and rapper BIA to its lyrical bluntness, "KIKI" is one thing before anything else: truthful and honest. From her imperfections and vulnerable moments to her confidence and sexuality, Kiana Ledé Brown lets every facet of her personality shine through on this album. She sets an example for all young women, showcasing how to embrace oneself fully and go one's own way, not without making mistakes, but by learning from them. Having created such an honest and wholesome work, it comes as no surprise that Kiana got the album's title tattooed on her arm. After all, it is not just her debut album, it is her story - and a celebration of herself. Not just because she released the album on her 23rd birthday.