Songs We Love: Kamaiyah, 'Build You Up'

Jul 7, 2017

The video for Kamaiyah's new song, "Build You Up," begins with unexpected drama for the down-to-earth Californian rapper: There's the whirring of helicopters, aerial shots of her hometown of Oakland, ominous ambient music and cinematic fades to black. But then the song kicks into gear with a shot of Kamaiyah, decked out in a yellow tracksuit and colorful sneakers, and four dancers resplendent in TLC shirts on a subway platform. It turns out to be a smorgasbord of color, joy and movement.

The simple, catchy hook of "Build You Up" will get anyone bopping and moving. But watch the Damiën Sandoval-directed video — whose loose plotline follows Kamaiyah cheering up a woman on the train who looks listless and down — and you'll realize Kamaiyah's feel-good message is directed specifically at black women, who all too often go unloved and unrecognized in their personal relationships and in society at large. "A queen is a queen of all things, respected by all means, uplifted by all kings," she raps in a sharp second verse. "If he don't show you love then he's less than / Never stress it, tell that brother get to steppin'."

Kamaiyah was the only woman in this year's XXL Freshman Class, a co-sign that was inevitable ever since she dropped her debut mixtape last March. Released as winter was thawing, A Good Night In The Ghetto was a severely underrated set of summer-ready jams. "Build You Up" is our first glimpse of the follow-up, Don't Ever Get It Twisted, which currently has no release date and is the first sign she is coming for domination this year.

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