Rapper KC Ortiz Says “Your Story Is Someone Else’s Survival Guide”
Written by Vocalo Radio on June 19, 2020
KC Ortiz has been dubbed by Vocalo’s own Jill Hopkins as “full-fledged Chicago hip-hop royalty.”
In celebration of Juneteenth, she joins us again to chat about how she’s maintaining her music’s trademark positivity and encouragement, the importance of remembering who’s fought the fights of the past, and intimately seeing both sides of the Pride and Juneteenth movements.
Vocalo: You’ve always made music filled with hope and encouragement. While we’re living through a global pandemic and a national movement, what have you been drawing from for inspiration?
KC Ortiz: This entire ordeal has been kinda hard to endure but I have tried to focus on the good coming out of it. Seeing young queer people of color tearing down systems that once held me back is so inspiring. Music is our fight song! So I am drawing a lot of inspiration from the kids fighting the good fight.
A lot of the issues that are finally being addressed, especially in the nightlife circuit, made me feel hopeless for many years; to see them being burned to the ground feels so good. This is one less thing [the next generation] will have to deal with.
In a previous interview you said that when you stay true to yourself you don’t have to maintain an act. What inspired you to present your truth through rap and hip hop?
When I first started rapping I was trying to be what was trending at the time – using lingo that I didn’t fully understand, rapping about stuff I hadn’t done. When I listen back I cringe. Even in my social media, when I look at old posts, it’s like I was just trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be.
But when it’s all said and done and the crowd isn’t there, you have to look yourself in the mirror. We didn’t go thru all this pain and heartache for nothing. Your story is someone else’s survival guide. And it’s unfair to your story to not share it, to not give someone else some tips on how to get thru this thing called life. Your truth lets someone else know that they are not alone in what they are going through.
Pride and Juneteenth are falling in the middle of a historic movement this year. What reflections has this period brought up for you?
Being Black and queer, you get to see both sides of the movement. Pride started as a riot. As a protest against the brutality of police officers. The Black Lives Matter movement is going through the same battle at this moment. Sometimes it baffles me when people of the LGBT community don’t see the similarities. Its crazy to see the same people who ‘just got out’ of bondage so easily forget what it feels like to be in chains.
Obviously celebrations all look different this year. What do you have planned for Juneteenth?
I have a performance airing today with CircuitMOM’s “Takes Over The Interwebs: Pride Edition.” I honestly just want to sit alone during that performance and reflect. A lot of times I sit alone and reflect. We get so deep in what we see in front of us that the monster looks way bigger and scarier. Today is my day to just think long and hard of the fights of our ancestors that must be carried on.
Bishop Jakes once said “Imagine everything our ancestors endure, while we sit and complain on our iPhones.” Sometimes I have to just reflect on how far we have come, even though there is much left to fight.
I never voted until I watched the movie “Selma.” After watching that movie I felt awful for not voting. We need to sit and look back, to see and make sure that we are taking advantage of the fruits of our ancestors hard work and pain.
What music have you been inspired by lately?
Sometimes when I’m listening to music, I feel God is giving me clues or advice. When I feel those moments in a song, it becomes kinda ritual for me to go back and revisit those songs when I’m feeling down. So my music choice has been all over the place – from “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red, to “Be Happy” by Mary J. Blige, to “I Want To Break Free” by Queen.
My friends laugh sometimes at how random my music selections are. I will go from Yolanda Adams to Millie Jackson in seconds. To me, music is an escape. Bishop Jakes says “Music is the easiest way to redecorate the room, the easiest way to change the mood in a room.”
Check out Jill Hopkins’ full 2018 interview with KC here:
Interviewed and edited for length & clarity by Shelby Kluver
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