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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Rapper KC Ortiz paves a highway to heaven
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-08-23

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A Queer Pride is starting up a weekly Friday night residency at the new nightclub Le Nocturne in Uptown. The debut event is a fundraiser for LA-based nonprofit Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. The organization's founder Jennicet Gutierrez will be in attendance, along with local Chicago rapper KC Ortiz.

Ortiz has been recording music for years and has released two albums Beach Street and Church Tapes. Fellow rapper Big Dipper was featured on one of Ortiz's songs "Let's Talk About PrEP."

Another recent collaboration is with LCD Soundsystem's Gavin Rayna Russom for the track "Heaven's Highway" with album art created by trans artist Xavier Schipani. The song will be performed at the upcoming fundraiser on Aug. 23.

Windy City Times: Start off with where you are from.

KC Ortiz: I'm from Mobile, Alabama. I joined the Air Force at the age 19. That sent me to Texas, then South Dakota. That's how I ended up here.

WCT: What made you move to Chicago?

KC: When I was in Mobile, my drag mom Rosalyn Heights showed me a video of Miss Continental. I hadn't transitioned at that time and didn't know that world existed. When I saw that video, I wanted to go so bad. I visited Chicago and knew I had to move here.

WCT: When did you move into performing?

KC: When I was in middle school, I saw a video of a drag show. I wanted to do that immediately, even as a six grader. I watched the movie To Wong Foo and wanted to be that.

I wanted to perform, but never did, then I joined the Air Force. I eventually went out to the gay clubs with my friend from high school and told everyone I wanted to perform in drag.

WCT: How did you rap career take off?

KC: In high school I used to write a lot. It was something I always wanted to do, but thought it would never happen. I thought it was too impossible to do.

WCT: Were there certain rappers you liked?

KC: My idol is Lil' Kim. I do like Missy Elliott a lot. The Notorious B.I.G. has great word play. I don't know how he thought to put some of those words together.

WCT: What does the name KC stand for?

KC: KC comes from a girl I went to high school with. It was spelled K-a-y-c-e-e. When I started I spelled it like that, someone said, "That doesn't sound like a rapper. It sounds like the girl that sits behind you in school." I changed it to KC.

WCT: How do you identify currently?

KC: It's hard to describe. I love being trans. I don't identify as straight because I like the gay stuff. I like going to the gay clubs with my friends. I'm not straight, but I identify as a girl.

WCT: Talk about working with Rayna on the track "Heaven's Highway."

KC: That was so cool. I had done an interview with Out Magazine about the trans ban on the military. Billboard wanted to do a similar article with Rayna. Since I was in the military, they decided to make it a conversation with a phone interview. There was also a panel about trans musicians at Soho House where we traded information. It just grew.

She sent me the tracks last summer and I recorded it then. This was before the Prep stuff. She wanted to do a mixtape with trans artists. That never came out so we put this song out ourselves.

WCT: You used religious aspects in the song.

KC: Yes. I'm really into God. It's very hard to explain, especially in the LGBT community because we are told that God doesn't love us. God is just so special to me.

WCT: What songs are you doing at this fundraiser coming up?

KC: I know we are doing "Heaven's Highway." Other than that, I literally pick my songs on the way there. I did the same thing at Pride in the Park and they wanted my music a week in advance. It was stressful.

WCT: I was at Pride in the Park. You did a really nice job.

KC: Thank you.

WCT: What do you want to accomplish in life?

KC: Music is in my blood. People have suggested that I do makeup or hair, but music is the thing that makes me happy. When I am at my day job, I think about being in the studio instead. I know music is what I was created for.

WCT: What advice would you give other people?

KC: Never give up on your dreams. People that don't chase their dreams will try to talk you out of yours. Don't let that happen.

Even when it came to me transitioning, people said I would never pass and not to waste my time. When I tried music or drag or even moving to Chicago, they said it would never work.

I was told everything that I wanted to pursue would fail. People need to know in their hearts that they can make it happen!

Come watch Ortiz and Russom perform at Le Nocturne, 4810 N. Broadway, Aug. 23 with tickets at Do312.com/AQueerPride.

For more on this talented artist visit KayceeOrtizmusic.com .


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