At just 14 years old, Atlanta-based rapper KILJ has a bright future ahead of him.
Growing up in the age of technology, he has used his youth as an advantage in building his platform.
Working his way up from recording music using GarageBand and free beats he found online, the high school freshman found inspiration in classic artists like Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo and today’s hottest rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Juice WRLD to create his own sound.
KILJ took advantage of the network of artists and producers on Instagram to connect with his current executive producers Hagan and BLK Beats.
Rapping on beats that perfectly compliment the young rapper’s melodic flow, KILJ began releasing music on SoundCloud earlier this year and has quickly gained a loyal following of over 5,000 Instagram followers (@xokilj) and nearly 400 SoundCloud followers (KILJ).
Social media has played an integral role in KILJ’s development as an artist as he has met some of his closest friends in the music industry on Instagram and has collaborated with other rising artists around the world. Gaining mainstream attention after being featured on the massively popular YouTube channel “Promoting Sounds,” his song “95” has racked up over 120,000 plays on YouTube and over 40,000 SoundCloud streams.
KILJ’s melodic emo-rap vibe puts him in a perfect position to succeed in the evolving rap industry. With the powerful trap flow of artists like Juice WRLD and Lil Mosey combined with a hint of pop bounce, KILJ crafts his own unique sound.
The Fordham Ram spoke with KILJ about his journey to becoming a rapper and his life outside of music.
Q: What’s your creative process like? How do you record/write?
A: Whenever I find a beat I like I just immediately start recording because I have a home studio. I don’t really write any lyrics down until after the song’s made, though. I go off the top and just run with it nowadays.
Q: What’s it like collaborating with other artists? Who has been your favorite collab so far?
A: It’s great collaborating with other artists. How it goes is I usually send an open (a song with an empty space for another verse or hook) to someone I think would sound good on it. They send it back, I send it to my producers Hagan or BLK, and the rest is history.
Q: Who’s your dream collab?
A: I can’t decide on just one. I’d love to get something done with Kody Lavigne, Juice WRLD, Killval and there’s probably so many others.
Q: Who is your dream producer to work with? Why?
A: I really like the producers I work with now. Maybe Nick Mira or Taz Taylor. Just because their beats sound so different but hard at the same time, if you know what I mean.
Q: If you could open a show for any artist who would it be?
A: Definitely Juice WRLD.
Q: Where do you see your career going in the next few years?
A: In the next few years, I see myself at the top. A few gold and platinum records, an award for my music and touring. I know there’s a lot more to come with this journey.
Q: If you could have a video made of any of your songs, which would it be? Do you have any directors you would dream of working with?
A: Definitely “95.” I think it’s the best song I’ve made just because of the way my voice flows so smoothly on the beat. I know I’ll work with Cole Bennett (of Lyrical Lemonade) someday in the future.
Q: Who was your first concert?
A: My first concert was in San Diego and it was KYLE, NF and Logic. We were sitting way back in the lawn far away from the stage, but it was definitely a dope experience.
Q: What is your favorite song of all time? Do you have a favorite artist?
A: “Erase Your Social” by Lil Uzi Vert is my favorite song of all time. It has these nostalgic vibes I just can’t really put my finger on. I don’t necessarily have a favorite artist though. I listen to way too many people to just have one favorite. Some of my favorites are mainstream artists like Juice WRLD, Drake, Lil Mosey and Post Malone and also underground artists like Killval, LXST, ryster and Yung Divide.
Q: Since you’re only 14, are you still in school? How do you balance school and music?
A: I’m 14 right now. I do online school, so I do my schoolwork and everything at home which is ideal for me since I travel back and forth to L.A. a lot. But whenever I record, I usually do it from like 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then I’ll do everything a regular kid would do after that.
Q: What do you do when you’re not making music?
A: Play basketball, not on a team or anything, just to have fun, hang out with friends, travel, do schoolwork, watch YouTube videos and eat Chick-Fil-A’s Polynesian sauce.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
A: Japan, because I heard they have talking toilets over there.
Q: How’d you get the name KILJ?
A: I was just riding in the car one day, and the name came to me. I never forgot about it, so I just ran with it.
Q: Who’s another under the radar artist we should be listening to in your opinion?
A: I think there’s plenty, but I’ll just give you sadtaylor (His Instagram and Soundcloud are @sadtaylor333) and Tommy Ice (His Instagram is @tommyice1100 and SoundCloud is tommy ice). Both are really good friends of mine.