What’s Kaash Paige’s secret to landing a record deal with Def Jam, blowing up on TikTok and working with Travis Scott, all before turning 20?
“I feel like if you just stay down and keep putting your work in, just manifesting and putting out that good energy and believing it too, I feel like anything can happen,” Paige said.
The Dallas native — whose debut album “Teenage Fever” featured such rap stars as Don Toliver, 42 Dugg and Isaiah Rashad — hosted a virtual press conference Sept. 28 to discuss everything from her creative process to the origin of her stage name, which stands for “kill all arrogance, stop hatred.”
“You ever been around so many different opinions, you start to question how you should look, or how you should dress, or just in general how you should even think?” Paige said. “When I came up with that saying, I was just surrounded by so much arrogance, and I wanted to change how I thought about myself. ,” Paige said. “I used to hate myself cause I couldn’t be like these people. I couldn’t be a leader, I was always a follower.”
While her route to success is certainly not traditional, it’s becoming a feasible option for more artists by the day. Her track “Love Songs,” which interpolates Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” was used in millions of TikTok videos, attracting the attention of an A&R representative at Def Jam who offered her a record deal.
“When I first found out that my song was trending on TikTok, I was at Prairie View [A&M University’s] homecoming … Somebody went up to me like ‘Yo, yo, yo, you’re trending on Apple Music,’” Paige said. “Knowing that people can dance to a song that I never would have thought you could dance to is just insane. I just appreciate those influencers and kids and everybody for getting on there and doing that.”
Paige’s parents didn’t initially have the same goals for her that she had for herself. While they supported her pursuing her musical aspirations, they wanted her to attend college while doing so.
“Your parents have this one goal for you and it’s like they have your whole life planned out. It was like, that’s dope but that’s not what I want to do,” Paige said. “I was like ‘Nah, something’s finna happen. I don’t know what it is, but my life finna change.’”
In addition to celebrating milestone accomplishments, she believes it’s important to appreciate steps taken in the process of achieving them.
“Any accomplishment that you’re tryna achieve — you know, any dream, any desire — and it happens for you, that’s success to me, if it’s little or big,” Paige said. “I feel like we focus on success being ‘I need to be the biggest artist in the world.’ That’s success, but this song that you just recorded right now, that’s success too.”
Paige takes pride in her bisexuality, often making reference to relationships with both women and men in her songs. She encouraged other aspiring musicians to be proud of their identities and be their authentic selves.
“In this industry you can do anything, you can be anything you want,” Paige said.
True to her neck tattoo reading “Overthinking Kills,” Paige’s songwriting process is very organic. She plays beats for her friends, asks how each one makes them feel, then improvises lyrics that evoke their suggested emotions.
“Every single song that’s on ‘Teenage Fever,’ every single song that’s on ‘Parked Car Convos,’ I freestyled that,” Paige said.
Although she recently linked up with Future and has gone clubbing in Atlanta with fellow young rappers Mulatto and Flo Milli, she chooses to take an optimistic view of her experience quarantining earlier this year. As someone who prefers spending quality time with her loved ones, she relished the opportunity to grow closer to her family and friends. Reducing distractions also helped her hone in on her craft and make more music.
“What else can you do besides brainstorm and plot?” Paige said.
In terms of her long-term aspirations, Paige wants to continue to grow and support the music scene in Dallas. She wants to own a studio, record label and music festival in her hometown where artists can showcase the stylistic diversity that their city has to offer. As a model for success, she looks to Texas superstar Travis Scott, with whom she co-featured on Don Toliver’s song “Euphoria” earlier this year.
“You know how Travis Scott has Astroworld [Festival]?” Paige said. “I wanna do something in Dallas a little bit kinda like that but at the State Fair Park and really turn it up.”,” Paige said.
With her keen understanding that just one song has the power to change an artist’s entire career trajectory, she advises aspiring artists not to limit their ambitions.
“Nothing’s unrealistic in this world,” Paige said. “Speak literally, whatever the fuck you want. ‘I want this, I’m gonna be a billionaire.’ That’s gonna happen for you.”
Her album “Teenage Fever” is available now on all streaming platforms.