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Premiere: Chicago Rapper KC Ortiz Tributes Her Grandma on Church Tapes Mixtape 

Premiere: Chicago Rapper KC Ortiz Tributes Her Grandma on Church Tapes Mixtape

KC Ortiz
Photography: Richard Windslow

The rising transgender emcee proves she's the future of hip-hop. 

Christianity has played a huge role in KC Ortiz's life since growing up with her grandma in Mobile, Alabama, where she religiously sang in church choir and listened almost exclusively to gospel music. Now a Chicago-based rapper, Ortiz is remembering her roots on Church Tapes, a new mixtape that tributes the cassette tapes she'd play on the floor of her grandma's back porch.

Related | KC Ortiz: From Air Force Discharge to Underground Hip-Hop Princess

"When we were growing up, they recorded church service onto cassette tapes and sold them for five dollars," Ortiz told OUT. "My grandma would always buy them, [and] my cousin and I would sit around the radio singing along. It was something we did a lot actually. I wanted to go back to that place, the time, that moment [on Church Tapes]. My grandpa was having the back porch turned into a bedroom. It wasn't even finished, just a frame with a roof and wood around it, but we'd hang out in that room all night on bare plywood and listen to the church tapes my grandma brought."

Church Tapes opens on an inspiring note, with a personal voicemail from Ortiz's grandma, telling her to "take, take, take" because "the future is yours." But things quickly get serious, as the rising trans rapper tackles everything from police violence to black empowerment across eight ferocious hip-hop tracks. On mixtape highlight, "Shut Up," Ortiz addresses her insecurities, telling "those voices in my head to be quiet," before punctuating the mixtape's larger message on "Future," where she repeats the line, "We are, we are the future," with conviction.

Listen to the OUT premiere of KC Ortiz's Church Tapes, below.

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