Kidd Kenn – From a Young Age to an Old Age

Kidd Kenn, an openly gay Chicago rapper known for his viral freestyle videos that add his trademark gay flair to familiar hits (such as FBG Duck’s “Slide”) is flourishing rapidly. His pink-splatter vinyl + toy doll box set made its debut at 1,700 Target stores this May.

PAPER caught up with him as he prepared for his Lollapalooza debut and signed a major record label deal with Island Records.

Early Life and Education

Dontrell Smith, more commonly known by his stage name Kidd Kenn, exudes an easy confidence that stems from being true to himself and unapologetically genuine. The young rapper continues to make headlines for his first awards show cypher appearance and makeup tutorial for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line.

He made history when he became the first openly gay rapper to recite in the BET Hip-Hop Awards digital cypher and was an incredible performer, giving an electrifying performance. Now available is his EP called Problem Child.

Chicago South Side-born emcee Aja puts a female-focused spin on drill music with his lively, feminine lyrics and fluid flows, earning the endorsement of Kehlani for her San Francisco Pride set, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B and Lil Nas X among many more.

Professional Career

Kidd Kenn has dedicated himself to hip-hop since an early age, always working to maintain his sense of self while carving his place within an industry that can sometimes be hostile toward Black, queer youth.

He’s amassed an enormous following organically through platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. Kehlani invited him to perform onstage with her at San Francisco Pride 2018; also signing him to Island Records shortly thereafter.

Since then, he’s released mixtapes and albums ranging from party tracks to self-love anthems. Additionally, he’s collaborated with artists like Cupcakke, Saucy Santana, Rico Nasty – even getting himself an action figure now available at Target stores!

Achievement and Honors

Kidd Kenn is an up-and-coming openly queer rapper making waves in the music industry. Beginning his rise on social media in 2018, with queer-flipped versions of regional Chicago drill songs, Kidd Kenn caught Kehlani’s eye, who featured him at several digital PRIDE events as an act.

He made history as the first LGBTQAI+ rapper to participate in the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher, where he completely owned it and earned much praise from both peers and fans alike. Since then he has released multiple projects such as Childish, Child’s Play and Problem Child while receiving many co-signs from heavyweights like Lil Nas X and CupcakKe.

On Thursday, Lollapalooza welcomes back rapper A-Trak who has become an influential leader of youth-led LGBTQ advocacy movement with his fearless lyrics and unique musical blend of Chicago drill and hip hop with humorous, provocative and raunchy words that seamlessly flow together.

Personal Life

Dontrell Smith, known by his stage name Kidd Kenn, has been creating music since before he could even remember. At first, his love for remixing other rappers’ songs with his own vulgar lyrics over them first took shape.

Kenn’s freestyle abilities quickly earned him notoriety locally and online, garnering him thousands of followers quickly. Kehlani invited Kenn to perform on her San Francisco Pride set this year; additionally he was named on GLAAD’s 20 Under 20 List presented by Teen Vogue.

Kenn’s message to black queer youth everywhere is crystal-clear: be true to yourself and things will work out for the best. He has made great strides since adopting this mantra early in his career and serves as an inspirational figure for black queer youth around the globe.

Net Worth

Kidd Kenn has built his reputation organically on TikTok and YouTube video views, garnering nearly 2 million in total and garnering half-a-million likes on Instagram and TikTok respectively. His releases have been applauded by tastemakers including PAPER, The Fader, Nylon and Teen Vogue; GLAAD profiled Kidd as part of their inaugural OUT100 list last summer.

Dontrell Smith, better known by his stage name Kidd Kenn, will make his Lollapalooza debut Thursday at Grant Park’s BMI Stage. Kidd Kenn has been working toward this momentous moment since age 18, when he made history by becoming the first openly gay rapper ever to participate in a BET Hip-Hop Awards digital cypher.

Kenn’s event not only broke through barriers; it made headlines worldwide. Although this milestone may seem like the culmination of his career journey, its significance lies elsewhere.

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