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Avant-rapper Kilo Kish on her Winter Park start and her Brooklyn breakout


  • Sarah de Burghe

To hear Lakisha Robinson describe her career thus far, you'd think it was all just a series of coincidences and lucky breaks.

"It was pretty much because I had a roommate who made music and had a little at-home studio set up, so it was super easy and accessible for me to jump in there," says Robinson, a Brooklyn-by-way-of-Winter Park musician, better known as Odd Future associate and Village Voice cover girl Kilo Kish.

This summer's been good to the Winter Park High School grad: In April, Robinson, whose sultry delivery is closer to cooing spoken-word than hip-hop, released her debut mixtape, Homeschool, which was largely produced by Odd Future's The Internet, with whom she just wrapped a five-date co-headlining tour. It spread like wildfire across the blogosphere, leading to an appearance on Childish Gambino's (Community's Donald Glover) newest mixtape, Royalty, last month.

"[The music business] was definitely not something I even considered in high school. I definitely just assumed I would move to New York and work in some kind of design field," Robinson says. "So I graduated for textile design but it wasn't until after releasing Homeschool [that] I decided to take music a little more seriously."

From there on out, everything fell into place. "I feel like all the people I've worked with have come about super randomly – right place, right time, good timing and good vibes, I guess," she says. Matt Martians (half of The Internet) started working with her after he lost his wallet, of all things, and needed to crash at a friend's apartment. The friend happened to be Robinson's roommate. "Had he not lost [his wallet]," she says, "I wouldn't have ever put out Homeschool."

She describes ending up on Royalty, which also features diverse personalities ranging from Ghostface Killah to Beck to Tina Fey, in similar, almost serendipitous circumstances.

"With Donald, it came about as a friend of a friend kind of thing, and we hung out a few times before we recorded. He's one of my good friends now – I like working with people and having it feel super organic and natural as opposed to throwing two people together in a studio setting," she says. "I think that's what makes it work. It's insane that I'm included with all those big names. I'm like the least-known person!"

With a lightly accented, half-sung vocal style that's been called "avant-rap" by some and "what I imagine someone's conscience would sound like" by others, her sound isn't easily categorized. But to Robinson, defying genre is part of the fun.

"With a wider audience … it's funny because I feel like my music confuses some people in that they can't really tell if I'm being serious or not, or singing or rapping – which I like," she says. "Royalty introduced my music to a different audience, so I've gotten mostly good feedback and some bad. Before that, I think most of the people who listened to my music followed the whole Odd Future crew and could understand it because they're into unconventional stuff."

Kish does plan on coming back to Florida for shows at some point, but despite the interest she's attracted from major labels, she's coy on her plans beyond another mixtape project.

"To be honest, I never thought Homeschool would take off at all like it did," Robinson says. "It was kind of my summer art project that I worked on here and there during the school year, so when April came and it was done, I just wanted to throw it out there."

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