Kentavia Miller, formally known as KenTheMan, always knew her aura and energy belonged on the stage. The Houston-bred rapper could effortlessly ride a beat while being sensual and clever with every bar she spits. She used her childhood alter ego, Ken, as the backdrop for her moment to be as raw and free as she wanted to be in her lyrics. Coming from a background of girl groups and school talent shows, KenTheMan studied artists who took their moment to become their own artists and stray away from trends.
With almost ten years on the grind, Miller has found her pocket by adding her unique sound and flavor to each track, constantly reminding her that music should be a moment of freedom for people. “I was making music because I enjoyed it and I wanted to outdo my last songs,” Miller says. “It was always fun to me and was the reason why I kept doing it. I also felt free. I wanted to be in the studio and couldn’t wait to get in.”
During her independent artist route, she remained committed to manifesting the life she wanted through rap. In between her time doing deliveries for DoorDash and driving for Uber she would write rhymes. Now fast forward to the end of 2023, she has scored a new home at Roc Nation and released an epic summer project Back to 304’n. As KenTheMan embarks on the new chapter, she reflects on this new era of her life. “This new era is the calm before the storm because everything is falling into place and now it’s about to get active,” she says. KenTheMan caught up with Essence GU to chat about her latest tour, signing to her new label and what’s in store for 2024.
Girls United: You recently just wrapped up your headlining tour. How was it experiencing seeing your fans sing and rap your music live?
KenTheMan: It was amazing because I’m actually booked all the time, and with upcoming artists sometimes you don’t know what you’re walking into. Sometimes, it could be hit or miss, so I was intimidated about going on tour, and when ticket sales started rolling in, it was unbelievable to me. It was so much love, support and something I never thought I could feel.
GU: With you being an upcoming artist in mainstream media, how has this grind been building a community around your music?
KTM: A lot of people don’t know I’m going on my ninth year making music. I’ve been hustling and I feel like I’ve built a core support system with my followers and gave them a personal relationship with my music. My fans have shown up, and this is the biggest moment to show up because not everyone is on the bandwagon yet.
GU: Speaking of moments, you recently signed with Roc Nation. Could you paint a picture of that day and what made this label the place you’d call home for your music?
KTM: I’ve been in a million meetings, and for the Roc Nation meeting, I didn’t have to say a word when I walked into the office. They answered everything that I believed in my head or that I wanted in my head, and they said it out loud. It felt like home, and something finally felt right to me, and when it actually came to reality, I couldn’t believe it really happened.
Photo Credit: Marcus Ambrose Williams
GU: As an upcoming artist, what was the biggest lesson you learned before signing to a major label?
KTM: I learned that you have to do it for yourself before you think that somebody else is going to do it for you. I have always been a person of consistency and believed in myself more than anybody could ever imagine. It starts with you, and all the pieces fall into place, so when people come to you, they match that energy.
GU: After having a stellar summer and recently finishing your tour, how are you feeling creatively in music?
KTM: I’m super excited to get back into my creative space because I’ve kind of been out of it for a while, and I felt like I needed to recharge. Sometimes I find myself doing what I think other people want to hear versus what I actually want to, but now I’m ready to share my artistry with the world. I love the fun, sexual, beautiful, ratchet, confident music, but I also kind of want to go back to my roots, which are lyricism, metaphors, and dark beats.
GU: As you enter a new class during the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. How has the culture molded your artistry as a Black woman from the South?
KTM: It’s always been like the freeing form of expression. That freedom is something that I enjoy about hip-hop. It is what you feel in the moment it can be violent, passionate or emotional. It helps you not put yourself in a box.
Photo Credit: Marcus Ambrose Williams
GU: As a woman in the industry how are you prioritizing putting yourself first in the business?
KTM: I would say my biggest lesson has been following your heart and not letting the Nos get to you because it’s going to be a ton of Nos, but it’ll also be a ton of Yeses.
GU: What are you most excited about as we close out 2023 and enter a new year?
KTM: I had a good ass year, and it just went by fast so I think this is my setup for an even greater year because this year was great. I’m excited to see beyond that and see how much better it can get. I want my fans to know that I love them, and without them, I’d be nothing.
About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.