From the pulpit to rap mogul, underground artist KC Ortiz is rising again and again. It was no secret that she would be a sensation based on her days growing up sangin in the choir. On her journey from Mobile, Alabama to Chicago, Ortiz has been making splashes for trans women in hip-hop. You may have caught her most recent wave, the “CHURCH TAPES” mixtape which was inspired by her Christian upbringing, which is undeniably responsible for her past present and future successes.

Through her lyricism it is clear that she creates the gospel she would have needed growing up.  From coast to coast KC Ortiz has been busy spreading said word with one-of-a-kind performances, singles and collaborations. This is most apparent in her most recent hip-hop music video “Shut Up,” produced by VAM Studio. This song spreads good vibes only as KC confidently instructs all negativity to have a backseat so positivity can take the wheel. She embraces the power of music as an integral tool to reverse self doubt. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing her narrative, now is your chance to get to know the new queen on the block as she shares the blueprint to her reign!

AMFM:  What do you envision for the future of trans women in hip hop?

ORTIZ: Bishop T.D. Jakes always says “If you are doing something no one else has done, you are showing them it is possible.” But for me, I don’t see myself as a trans woman in Hip-Hop. I’m a rapper, no different than Eve or Travis Scott. I cringe when headlines say “Trans Rapper.”  That ain’t me…I’m just a rapper. The only times that even crosses my mind really is when I think about because I’m trans I gotta be dope. I can’t be just ok. I can’t be wack because people are already gonna be expecting something bogus. If other girls wanna jump in that box and label themselves a “trans rapper” then hop in, but I am just a rapper. I always try to address stuff that I feel would have helped me. I like making trap music, but I always try to make it inspirational. I wanna have some kind of message in my music, because on some of my worst days, I was listening to rap music about hope, overcoming, encouragement, and believing. That’s what pulled me through.

AMFM: When you encounter people who do not align with your lived experiences, yet connect with your art, what do those interactions look like?

ORTIZ: One thing I learned in the Air Force was how to interact with all sorts of people. Being in the military I have met, worked with, even had to live with people from all over the world with different points of views and beliefs. I always tell myself that I want to learn and see other perspectives. Everyone we meet knows something we can learn. It’s funny bc sometimes people will quote my song lyrics to me, or the meaning they got from a song, and in my head I’m like, “That’s totally not what I meant at all, but that also makes so much sense.” It’s crazy to hear other people’s take on my lyrics, but as long as they got food from it I’m good.

AMFM: In a recent interview you spoke about God having moved on from outdated traditions of your faith. What aspects of said faith did you keep when you left the church as a teen, and how do those aspects present themselves in your work?

KAYCEE ORTIZ: I think we should all have a personal one on one relationship with God, because we all have a different purpose. Some may not agree with it, some may. What ran me from the church was always feeling beaten and judged by people I watched joyfully sin with my own eyes. I’m not saying everyone in the church is bad, but people come to God because they need peace, and answers. They want to be better, not to be told how horrible they are. You can help someone and point them in the right direction without condemning them. After always being told I’m going to hell by fornicators, unwed mothers, drunks and so forth…the point is you can’t judge people just because you sin differently. I try to let people know that God loves you “as is” he said come to him “as you are” and he will make the necessary adjustments. I’m still a work in progress, but so many people are ran away for being “as they are” before they can even start the self improvement process.

AMFM:  You’ve spoken in the past about never wanting to plateau. How do you decide what to pursue and when? Also, what project(s) are you currently working on?

ORTIZ: I always ask God to lead me and order my steps, which I’mma warn you it takes a lot longer. I really have to go with my gut a lot of times and pray about it, because I have been presented with a lot of opportunities that may seem enticing, shiny and festive, but is this really the road I want to take? I believe a lot in integrity and I’ve just been in some stuff that didn’t feel right in my soul, where I felt like I had to mute what I felt to “fit into” this. I can’t sit there pretending to be happy in a situation I don’t feel right about, even if it’s making me “look” busy and successful to the outside. I’m working on a lot of stuff, but I actually have written about 60% of two different mixtapes/EPs. They both have two totally different concepts, just really deciding which one I want to present first.

AMFM: How do maintain your truth while you grow as an artist? Do you have any advice for artist who are discovering their voice?

ORTIZ: With some of my lyrics I know it’s hard to believe, but I always ask God if he got anything he wanna say, use me. For a long time I wouldn’t talk about my life in my music because I always wanted everyone to think I had it all together. I didn’t want them to know the struggle, but once I started writing about my experiences it was kinda like turning this mess into art. Like if I had to suffer and grind my fingers to the bone to possess these tools, why lock them in a cabinet. Use them! Use them to build shelter for the people coming behind you. I just try to be true to myself, and write what I honestly went through. When you just stay true to yourself you don’t have to maintain an act.

Listen to KC Ortiz:

Contributing Writer: Richie Parks
Photo Credits: KC Ortiz / Jeff Kaluzny