Rapper Baby Kaely Is Freestyling Her Way to the Top of the Charts
When Baby Kaely started school, she’d already been rapping for over a year. The LA-based YouTube phenomenon started honing her musical talents at just four years old and she’s been hustling ever since. Now 13, Baby Kaely boasts more than a million YouTube subscribers, almost 300,000 Instagram followers, and more than 25,000 Twitter followers — and she’s using those platforms to touch on topics most wouldn’t expect from someone so young.
At just seven years old, Kaely and her father wrote the song “Heaven” as a tribute to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, bringing pop superstar will.i.am on board to produce and direct the video. In the years since, she has also tackled topics such as bullying, equality, and race, as in her headline-grabbing 2016 song “Better Place” with Black-ish star Marsai Martin. Here, we talk with Kaely about the power of positivity, staying true to yourself, and how to continue to pursue your passions even in the face of doubt.
B+C: You started rapping when you were just four years old. Where did that early love for music stem from?
Kaely: I used to listen to music on the radio and I would just learn the songs really fast! I’ve always loved rap music and hip-hop and listening to how they put words on the beat. I found that fascinating at a young age.
B+C: When did you start creating your own music?
Kaely: I started learning how to put words together in a song when I was around seven years old. I don’t remember a particular song; I just know I was around that age when I was getting really good at putting the words together on the beat. We didn’t put out anything at that time. We just kinda worked on it.
B+C: What is your songwriting process like?
Kaely: Well, first things first, you have to have an idea. I get a lot of those! You have to have a topic that you want to talk about, whether it’s something that’s going on in the world or maybe something you saw on social media. Then we go to the studio, we find a beat that I really love, and we just start incorporating the topic into the beat. Then we record it! The engineer does their good stuff on the computer and then it’s ready to go.
B+C: What would you say your message is as a young, musical artist?
Kaely: Well, in our society right now, a lot of new music is very negative. They use negative language, their topics are negative. … They think that’s what it takes for them to pop off. I wanna show the world that you don’t have to curse. You don’t have to throw “F-bombs” around for people to notice you or for people to like you. I’m trying to show the kids that they don’t have to talk like that.
B+C: What’s your favorite part about being a musician?
Kaely: I love being in the studio. I want to be at a studio all the time! Every time I go, I never have a bad vibe. It’s always good, positive vibes when I’m in there. That’s like my second home. I would not stop going there.
B+C: Your music often touches on heavier issues like school shootings and bullying. What do you say to critics who think you’re too young to speak out on such serious topics?
Kaely: I feel like it’s so much better when those subjects come from a kid because our generation is gonna be ruled by young kids. The kids actually listen to me because I’m the same age as them. I feel like they really take in what I’m saying more than if an older person was explaining things to them. I am able to connect with them more.
B+C: As a young, female rapper, you’re something of a leader. What qualities do you think a good leader should have?
Kaely: I think they should be brave. They should never quit because that’s just a bad example to give to the younger generation. They should talk to somebody and bring something out of them that they’ve never seen before — bring their confidence out, bring their positivity out, and just make them believe that they can do whatever they want.
B+C: Have there been any memorable fan interactions that have stuck with you?
Kaely: There’s not one that really stands out to me, but sometimes I have supporters that come up and tell me how I changed their lives and how my music helps them through rough times. There have been times where I was performing and they started crying. Then they made me cry. I was really happy that I got to help them and I really love that they feel like that toward me.
B+C: Do you have a song that you’re most proud of?
Kaely: The song called ”It’s a Shame.” That song was geared mostly toward people who hide in the shadows and don’t really love themselves for who they are. It’s just about expressing yourself. When I go to my YouTube and read the comments, I see that it helped people a lot. I’m very proud of that song.
B+C: What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
Kaely: Easy! I like to hang out with my friends and family. I like roller skating, going to the movies, going bowling… We go up to Big Bear [California] once a year to snowboard. It’s fun! I like staying active and going on hikes and all that kind of stuff.
B+C: Have there been any memorable celeb interactions you’ve had through your work?
Kaely: I was at the studio one time when I was about seven years old, and I saw Rihanna and I talked for 10 minutes. She said she loved my shaved hair. Then I saw her on her in a magazine later with her hair shaved!
B+C: What are you working on now?
Kaely: Lots of things! Sometimes I make little verses and I memorize them and I spit them on Instagram. Or I make a whole song and put it out on my YouTube channel and make a couple of videos for my fans there. And I may have an EP or an album coming out, who knows? Only I do!
B+C: What advice would you give to other girls who have big career dreams like you, but aren’t sure how to go about achieving them?
Kaely: I would say that a lot of people are not gonna accept you, and as much good as there is out there, there’s also hate. A lot of people fall down when they get hate comments and just stop doing what they love. I would say to the young girls, if you love it, keep doing it. They just wanna bring you down because they’re mad that they couldn’t do it or they don’t have that talent that you have. Keep going and don’t stop!
Written by: Cortney Clift and Nicole Villeneuve
Design by: Yising Chou
Photos via: Lilly Lawrence/Greg Doherty/Getty
“Future Women of America” is a multimedia project spotlighting 15 young women under 20 who are making bold moves. Click here to see all the trailblazing women and girls featured.