Welcome to Part III of my mini-series, “Women Workin’ Wonders”, where every Friday in March I’ve been talking to women from all walks of life; this Friday is no different! Music has and always will play a tremendous role in my life! Immediately after I meditate in the morning, I turn my JBL speaker on to start vibing out to my workout playlist and am constantly playing music throughout the day. But there’s one particular EP that I listen to at least three times a day titled “A L I G N”, by one of my favorite artists, Quiana “Ki” Brown.
I went to high school in South Jersey, about 25 minutes from Philadelphia. Even though I was still close to home, it broke my heart having to move to the suburbs. Luckily the majority of students were from Philly, Camden, and/or New York, so many of us could relate to one another. I can’t remember what grade I met Ki in but she was such a sweetheart and super friendly. We also had mutual friends and when I found out we were both from the same part of Philly, Uptown which is the best part, I liked her even more! Ki graduated a year before me but if you went to our school, you knew her voice was out of this world and her future was bright. She was one of the first women I thought about for “Women Workin’ Wonders”, so It was such a pleasure talking to her about when she started singing, how “A L I G N .” came about, and so much more!
At the young age of 5, Ki began singing. It was a collective realization between her and her family that she had an amazing voice. It came as no surprise because her family was filled with singers and extremely talented people, including her dad, who played a huge part, and his side of the family. Ki had the best of all worlds; her dad introducing her to the music of r&b legends Sade and Erykah Badu, her older brothers putting her onto hip-hop/rap artists like Hov and Biggie, and her mom always playing those old school jams. When she was about 7 or 8, Ki vividly remembers her oldest brother giving her the pamphlet to a Jay Z cd, which included the lyrics. Intrigued and memorized by the structure and break down, Ki began writing music herself! What 7 or 8 year old is teaching themselves how to write music? Of course, she still played outside with friends and enjoyed fashion, especially dressing up Barbie’s, but she was already on another level musically.
Ki really created a masterpiece with “A L I G N.”, which debuted on all streaming platforms on November 2nd of 2018. She’s so humble about her success thus far. She told me she’ll never get used to people telling her they listen to her music every day and how much they love it! Before I get into the context of this project, I have to say this EP wasn’t just an overnight or a few months situation. Ki had been working on it for years and a few of the songs were written back in 2017. She met her producer, Kenif Muse, a little over two years ago and they instantly started vibing and making music. Ki describes their dynamic duo like Drake & 40.
Very particular in everything she does, Ki already has a concept in mind whenever she’s writing. Studying her craft for almost two decades, she’s still learning new techniques but also knows how she wants her music to sound/feel like. Writers in the music industry who heavily inspire her are Frank Ocean, James Fauntleroy, Sir, and SZA. Way too often I hear people say there aren’t any good R&B artists out, which is the biggest lie. Ki and I agreed Daniel Caesar is one of the best right now! His music makes you want to fall so deep in love, whether you have a significant other or not. Miguel is another one who has hits upon hits! Ki calls him the Wale of R&B because both are beyond talented but not given the credit they truly deserve.
I know I, as well as many others, have told Ki that her tracklist order is spot-on perfect! There have been times when I listen to a project and wonder why songs were placed in that order or why some songs were even included at all but she did a fantastic job at making it so cohesive. The way all the song context transitions and flows into one another is just so heavenly. Ki would be writing new music moments before going into the studio, but once the project was done, she knew nothing else needed to be added or taken away. College and a bunch of other factors came in the way of her wrapping up the project when she first started but fast-forward to the fall of 2018, which is when everything finally “aligned”; hence where the title came from.
I’m not exaggerating but the morning “A L I G N.” was released, I played it about twelve times; from the time I got up until I was walking into work. Each and every song hits you in a different way but Ki let me know her favorite is “27 Club”. This particular song had been written since 2017 but just last week, March 9th, is when Ki finally turned 27 years old. When I asked how she felt about this birthday, without hesitation, she said was, “no white lighters til I f*ck my 28th”. We both started laughing uncontrollably! That is a quote from Frank Ocean’s song “Nights”, who was a huge inspiration in the flow of the song, as well Jhené Aiko with her soft-spoken voice. If you’re in the music/arts industry you know what the 27 Club is. Some of the greats from Jimi Hendrix, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fredo Santana, Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain are just a few of the many artists who are a part of the mysterious club. Their untimely deaths occurred at the age of 27. Also, there’s a myth stating that many of them were in the possession of a white lighter at their time of death. Ki has no worries though! She’s surrounded by so much love, positivity, and good vibes. With so much life ahead of her, she’s GOOD!
I’m almost certain any woman that has listened to “A L I G N.” can agree that the third track, “Y G M F U.” ( You Got Me F*cked Up), automatically gets you hype! Ki told me she originally recorded this song back in 2017, with the first verse complete and a rapper on the hook. The song had a completely different beat but Kenif flipped it twice and once they all sat in the studio, they knew it was the one! When writing the second verse, Ki had just finished dealing with a guy and was really feeling a way about him and the situation. Her friends told her straight up, “girl you are too poppin’ and way better than this”. That helped give her that push to talk so heavy on the second verse! I’ve rapped that part in the mirror a number of times because it’s 100% relatable.
Back in January, Ki was presented with the amazing opportunity for the first time ever to perform her own set, with a live band, at another R&B Philly native, Beano French’s, show. I was so upset I wasn’t able to make it back to Philly but thank God for social media. So many people Instagram lived the show or put up videos. Acknowledging her talent at such a young age, Ki had been in plays and musicals, but never on a stage performing her own music. That’s a huge accomplishment and she was filled with so many emotions being around her family, friends, and fans. Oh, and how could I forget, the show was sold out days before! She knew in that exact moment she can do whatever she puts her all into and that this is really what she’s meant to do for the rest of her life.
What keeps Ki pushing forward is that she always wants to one-up herself. It’s common that artists sophomore project don’t live up to the hype that their first did but Ki assured me this would not be the case with her. Every day she’s working hard at bettering herself and her craft. Her sweet, caring personality is evident as soon as you meet her. She wants everyone to win and is willing and eager to help put everybody on! Being a creative person, you’re ultimately turning nothing into something and that’s exactly what Ki has done and will continue to do. Music is a big part of who she is and if given the ultimatum to choose between a man or her music, you know what she’s choosing!
Family means so much to Ki! In the beginning, her mom wanted her to focus on college but now she has her degree and her mom understands her passion. I saw a video of her mom at her show and she was beyond happy, jammin’ to every single song like a proud mom would! Ki’s brothers are her biggest critics. Growing up in a not super affectionate family, recently hearing her brothers randomly tell her how proud they are of her and all her amazing accomplishments mean so much! Singing and songwriting aren’t the only things that Ki has up her sleeve. We will see her in due time with her own production company consisting of different elements. Ki went to school for PR Fashion, so she’ll always have a love for clothes, fashion, and everything in between. We’ll also be seeing her name in the credits as a songwriter for other artists in no time. She has a bunch of music tucked away that she would never release for herself. One of her major goals is to not be in the same place this time around in 2020.
I promise I will be supporting Ki, and all that she does, until the day I can’t anymore! I’m so proud of her and am thankful to know/be friends with someone who’s so genuine, talented, and down to Earth. I told Ki, “don’t have us out here waiting for new music like Rihanna is” and we won’t! Definitely, expect to hear some newness from Ki before 2019 ends. I’m excited and ready for all the dope shit she has in store! If you aren’t following her on social media or haven’t downloaded “A L I G N.” yet, just click the links below! You’ll be glad you listened and are following her along on her journey!