Chika is using music to speak for the voiceless. In 2016, the Nigerian-American rapper began uploading covers and freestyles to the internet, but it wasn’t until her fiery freestyle dissing Kanye West for supporting President Trump that she began receiving widespread attention. Her album Industry Games came out in March, just before much of the country was beginning to go into quarantine, and won her praise for her timeless flow and lyrical prowess. In her music and her social-media presence, she’s vocal about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, speaking out against police brutality, and fighting back against abortion bans. This month, she is the Cut’s cover star in a vibrant and colorful spread shot by Djeneba Aduayom.
Chika, says Aduayom, “is a true artist. I wanted to create artful images that show her in a different light.” In the cover photo, colorful, painted artwork by Aduayom is projected onto Chika’s face and body, capturing her soulful essence and making it hard to unlock from her gaze.
“We thought the effect would be bold and striking. The contrast definitely highlighted the many layers of who Chika is and what her music communicates,” said the Cut’s senior photo editor Liane Radel. “She is very open and honest, and we wanted her to feel really alive and spirited.”
The magic doesn’t stop there. From styling to hair and makeup, the whole team worked together to capture Chika’s poetic ’90s vibe. “I was inspired by the beautiful ethereal art that was projected onto her. It made me think of if Missy Elliott met Alice in Wonderland,” said Casey “Icon” Billingsley, Chika’s stylist. “With hair and makeup, we also wanted to match the artistic height of the art project, as well.”