Richmond’s music scene has been buzzing about the collective success of local hip-hop group, Kidz At Play. This sensational 11-member collective, which began as a close-knit group of high school friends, has recently been signed to AWAL, a label under the Sony banner, renowned for housing diverse major talents like Little Simz, JPEGMAFIA, and Deadmau5. The deal, involving multiple albums, is a massive step for Kidz At Play, who will maintained full creative control over their output.
A brainchild of founding member SMYTH, the group gained traction after their single went viral on TikTok in June 2022. “We started to be like, yo, let’s take it seriously,” said Jacob Parra Mena, a Director at Kidz At Play. Though only three members are musicians, the collective creates a unique blend of sounds influenced by their varying tastes and personal stories.
As Mena explains, their DIY approach is part of their strength, “every single thing now that we’ve ever made, we’ve never paid a penny for – everything is in house.” They were initially approached by Universal Music, but declined the offer, feeling that the deal wasn’t the right fit. This decision paid off when, following the independent release of their first album Mike Tyson Jab, they attracted attention again, this time from Sony. The album saw over 2 million streams, demonstrating their ability to create and promote their work independently.
Now, the group is planning a move to LA and hopes to continue their unique blend of music, including the “very raw, very spontaneous” energy that characterized their initial releases. “We’re still in our mixtape era, we haven’t had that big album, the one that takes us mainstream,” Mena stated, indicating that the best is yet to come.
On the future, Mena reflects, “We’re excited to finally have the backing of the label for these next projects, so we can finally get like the big features. We’re hoping to get Rico Nasty on this next album.” As for what the label can provide, Mena highlights the opportunities for wider exposure, “the main thing was they were able to say, you know, we can get you in the next Madden, we can get you all these festivals, we can get you the best booking agent in the industry.
SMYTH’s recent solo project release, Paperface!, has further solidified their unique sound and was lauded by Sony, potentially serving as an added incentive in finalizing the record deal. ed. note: We have an interview with SMYTH coming out by Friday.
For now, Richmond gets to celebrate the rise of this local band one last time at a FREE house show scheduled for this Saturday. After this, Kidz At Play aims to broaden their horizons, bringing the distinct flavor of Richmond hip-hop to a global audience. Their journey represents an exciting chapter in Richmond’s musical legacy, as Kidz At Play carry the spirit of the city with them. As Mena sums it up, “We’re here, bro.”