Ahead of the 63rd Grammy Awards, get to know the young Nigerian-American MC up for the Best New Artist award tonight.
Jane Chika Oranika, known professionally as CHIKA, is a multihyphenate talent; the Grammy-nominated artist raps, writes poetry, models, and acts. Born to Nigerian parents, she shot to mainstream popularity with a diss freestyle titled “A Letter to Kanye Omari West” over West’s notoriously famous “Jesus Walks” beat. She did this after he publicly supported Donald Trump in 2019, and the video has amassed over 7 million views on Twitter since then. Although she had always been musical, she only started taking rap seriously in recent years.
The Montgomery, Alabama native is not a stranger to viral popularity. From freestyles released as far back as 2017, she made her first hit when she covered Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”, spinning it into a profound pride anthem titled “Proud”. She won over the hearts of many listeners within its release, including Ed Sheeran himself. Since then, she’s garnered co-signs from top hip-hop heads, including the legendary Ice T, Wale, and Funkmaster Flex, amongst others.
Before becoming a rapper, she gravitated to poetry in middle school. CHIKA first started singing, then later fused her raps and spoken word into her songs. Her poetry EP, Full Bloom, was released on Soundcloud in 2017. After turning down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend Berklee College of Music, she spent her first year of college at the University of Alabama. Still, she expeditiously dropped out to pursue her music career full-time. Her hard work quickly paid off as A-List rappers started to take notice and share her talent with the world – all before she even signed her first record deal with Warner Music in July 2019.
The rising talent, who now calls L.A.home, continues to poetically retain her status as a conscious rap darling. After releasing her first album Industry Games last March, she has since set herself apart as a contending lyricist who has what it takes to be one of the best.
She is on a mission to change the way people process their emotions. Having grown up listening to OG rappers and also having a passion for theatre, she wants to bring back people being in touch with themselves and coming across as normal people with normal feelings regardless of however badass they seem. So far, she’s been seen to normalize making bangers while still passing along meaningful messages. In an interview with TIME magazine, she said, “I don’t feel that I chose rap, it chose me, and I have to do it justice.”
She has consistently shown that she’s a conscious multifaceted talent that has somehow hacked utilizing social media to bring attention to what she is passionate about. Early in 2017, she created the #EgoChallenge, using the Beyoncé song of that title to promote body positivity and self-love. That year she also released a Pride-themed remix of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" and a poetry EP. In May 2019, Chika was featured in a Calvin Klein #MyCalvins commercial and wrote poetry for its S/S 2019 campaign. That same year, she participated in a Business of Fashion panel at Paris Fashion Week and posed for the December cover of Teen Vogue. She was recognized by Business of Fashion as one of the top 500 people shaping the fashion industry in 2019. In 2020, she was inducted into the year’s XXL Freshman Class. She was also cast in the 2020 Netflix movie Power as a supporting actress in which she wrote all the rap the main character performed.
CHIKA is currently nominated for the Best New Artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards, and ahead of the ceremony, she’s covered a song by last year’s winner, Billie Eilish. She explained that she picked ‘My Future’ by Billie Eilish as her Best New Artist cover for Spotify because the song is beautiful and presents an interesting opportunity to talk about where she is as an artist, especially on the heels of her nomination. She said: “My present is moving so fast that each passing moment is practically the future already. And I’m in love with the ride I’m on.”
It's clear that she is a wellspring of talent, and she’s not slowing down anytime soon as she’s positioning herself as a formidable rising star.