Having made waves with his national television debut at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards, rapper Kidd Kenn’s career has been blasting off ever since. Attendees of Normal Anomaly’s second annual Black Queer AF Music Festival on May 6 are in for a treat as Kenn lands on the headliner stage for a performance that the artist promises will be one festival-goers won’t soon forget.
Kidd Kenn made history in 2021 as the first openly gay rapper featured in the BET Hip Hop Awards’ annual cypher, and he stole the show with his unabashedly queer lyrics and lightning-fast raps. With lyrics like “Kenn going up is the only way / Benjamin is my only bae / eat me up like I be on a plate / they hella mad, I’m hella gay” it’s not hard to imagine why fans have been reacting so passionately to the performer and his rhymes.
“To be honest, it was the feeling I had being on stage seeing people’s reactions to my craft that just gave me like a rush,” Kenn says of his motivation to pursue rap full-time. “It’s something I believe I can see myself doing for a long time.”
The festival, which will include immersive games and activities along with local and national celebrity entertainment, is on track to be 2023’s premier “party with a purpose.” The team at Normal Anomaly has put plenty of thought and care into the event, with “community” top of mind during the planning process.
Kidd Kenn’s story is one of following his artistic passions from an early age—a journey to success that can inspire anyone who is on a quest of pursuing their own dreams, regardless of age. “I started around sixth grade. I would go home after school, write little raps, and post them online,” the 20-year-old explains.
Building off the rap muscles he’d been developing since elementary school, Kenn took a more intentional step into the world of rap as a teenager. “I started actually putting out songs and videos in 2018.”
A combination of reality and fantasy guides his writing process—a writing style emblematic of the dichotomy between real life and escapism that most queer people can relate to. “I write literally about stuff that I go through on the regular degular. Like, it be just real-life stuff. Sometimes I’ll take it to a fantasy moment—a place I would want to be at. There are just a lot of different ways I come across.”
Scrolling through Kidd Kenn’s Instagram page, it’s immediately clear that he also uses fashion to show the world how out, bold, and fierce he is. “Fashion is for sure another way I express myself, both through my outfits and my hair—just my whole look,” he says. “It is a part of the look, because, you know, I am Kidd Kenn and it’s all got to make sense at the end of the day. And to be honest, I just really love fashion. I was always a fashion girl, and I just couldn’t wait to get a little bit more money so I could do a little bit more.”
With his coin secured, Kenn is ready to bring his energy, talent, and queerness to the Black Queer AF Festival stage next month. “I’m gonna be onstage breaking it down, looking real good,” he says without missing a beat. “It’s gonna be a movie—the biggest, the baddest performance of the year. It’s gonna be everything they want it to be, and that they know it’s going to be.”
“I enjoy showing how out I am, and how I’m always just being me.”
Kidd Kenn joins fellow headliner KenTheMan and performers Martell Lacey, Jazell Barbie Royale, and Keke Wyatt, to name just a few. The festival’s celebration of Black queerness is something Kenn doesn’t take lightly, as he’s aware that his existence and his commitment to authenticity is something others can look to for inspiration. “[Being an out, Black artist] means the world to me,” he says. “I enjoy showing how out I am and how outgoing I am as a person, and how I’m always just being me.”
As for those looking to make their own mark in the rap world as a queer artist, the rapper who gave us “Vroom Vroom,” “Want Not a Need,” and “Get Lit” is adamant in saying that what worked for him can work for others: stay true to who you are, and celebrate all aspects of yourself. It’s a message he hopes his audience will hear during his performance at the festival—advice that should also resonate with anyone looking for fresh motivation. “Always be 100 percent yourself, because this is what made people fall in love with you. Stay consistent, and go do it.”
Keep up with Kidd Kenn on Instagram @kiddkenn.
WHAT: Black Queer AF Music Festival
WHEN: May 3–7
WHERE: Stampede Houston, 11925 Eastex Fwy.