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KHMERLIFE : INTERVIEW WITH YT HellaKingin

Introduce yourself

My real name is CharaKnigh Lee. I’m 28 years old and I’m the oldest of 3.

How did you come up with your artist name?

YT abbreviates Yung Trapz, that’s what the streets know me as. And Hella Kings Global is my brand so that’s how I got YT HellaKingin. Like NBA Youngboy or NLE Choppa.

Tell us about the city you are from?

I’m from San Jose, California. Born and raised, but I did live in Portland for 4 years and moved back when I was 9. I’m currently based in East Side San Jose.

What first got you into music?

Everybody around me did it. My mom, my aunts, and grandmas have really good voices. Some of my boys were rapping so I’d rap too because it was something to do. Like a sport or something.

Who inspired you to make music?

Lil Wayne’s the reason why I listen to music like I do now. Before it would just go in one ear and out the other, but when I heard weezy spit I was like, “Wth he just say right now?” Like he makes you think about his lyrics and the way he presents it is catchy so you’ll hear what he’s saying, and that’s what I try to do when I write.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

It’s basically Trap music with a sing rap flow, but I try to be versatile at the same time. So I’ll mix it up and change my style every now and then. I usually like to talk about huslin and climbing out the mud, but I’ll do turn up songs and love songs too.

What is your creative process like?

I just turn on a beat and go in. I usually start with the hook first, but if I come up with a verse that sounds better as the hook then I’ll just switch it. I can’t finish a writing the song if I don’t like it the whole way through, so I be moving to the next a lot.

Why did you decide to become a songwriter?

My first song “Let Me Hit That” with Dunkman came out pretty good. My homies were gassing me up for it, and I felt like I had the bars for it so we just kept making more.

Which song you have written is your favorite and why?

My favorite song I’ve written that’s already out is “Believe Me.” It’s kind of underrated but it’s one of the songs I put the most thought into. Before it was just punchlines, and this song opened me up to more of a story line type flow.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Lil Uzi, all he does is make slaps. Or A Boogie because I listen to him the most, but Uzi gets views and sales.

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

Uzi, A Boogie, Lil Baby, there’s a lot right now that are on map that would be dope to open for with the same vibe as mine.

Where have you performed? What is your favorite city?

I’ve only performed here in San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. LA was my favorite city performing at because it was kind of like a vacation, and Young and Nel was there too so the place was packed.

Do you have any upcoming shows? 

I got one in Sacramento with Heartbreaka whenever the quarantine ends so I don’t know when that‘ll be. There‘s going to be another one with Chi Chi Tha Chino around the same time too.

How do you feel the Internet has impacted your music

I feel like it’s easier to push out songs. Like we don’t gotta print CDs and go to different states we can just use the digital platforms. Just gotta know how to promote it and put the effort into it. 

What is your favorite song to perform?

“Friday Night” is dope, “Poppin” is too. Those are more turn up than Trap.

Which famous musicians do you admire?

Lil Wayne for sure, and Lil Uzi too with his rockstar lifestyle and anime foreigns lol.

What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

When I get into the zone and it takes me away from whatever’s going on. There’s a lot of things we go through and see that we need to vent and let out, and this is my way of doing it. And I feel clever as fuck when I come up with a dope punchline lol.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Take your time, don’t rush to put out a song. If it needs to be fixed then go back to the studio and fix it. It could be just one note or syllable away from being a hit. 

What’s next for you?

I got more songs on the way, I just gotta finish promoting “Friday Night” first. I’m going to drop a few more before I announce the release date for my album.

What is the best Khmer restaurant in your city

Nam Vang got the fire Khmer noodles that’s what everyone goes there for.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

That I don’t got “fans” I got supporters, and I appreciate y’all for supporting me for real for real 🙏 Also, if you really want something there’s always going to be obstacles in the way to make you think twice about it. Just keep pushing because life likes to test you to see if you really want it.

Do you want to give anybody a shout out?

I wanna shout out Kaitlyn and Daisy, they believed me and gave me the confidence I needed to push myself to where I am now.

How can fans get in touch with you?

I’m on Instagram as @_yt_hellakingin and my email is hellakingin@gmail.com.

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