Kendrick Lamar

In hip-hop storytelling, there’s the hero, the villain, the sidekick, the big homie — and then there’s Keisha. (hds / Creative Commons)

Hip-hop storytelling is a funny thing. Themes and symbols are recycled and reused; fact and fiction become blurred as artists struggle to remain authentic while also creating an original and compelling story. As different as they are, most story-driven lyrics and sometimes full concept albums follow a similar formula. There’s usually classic character archetypes that transport the artist from point A to point B. There’s the hero, the villain, the sidekick, the big homie — and then there’s Keisha.

The name Keisha has been used countless times to tell the story of an attractive girl who uses her jaw-dropping looks and considerable street-smarts to manipulate and confuse your favorite rappers. The name is used so often that Keisha has become synonymous with seductive treachery, as evidenced by two decades of hip-hop motif.

This Keisha, who’s managed to be on the periphery of nearly every significant hip-hop storytelling moment in the past two decades, has stolen the hearts, minds — and wallets — of rap’s top stars. She’s the Belle of the ball: conniving but loyal, prized but damaged, everywhere but nowhere at the same time. In the end, she’s as much a part of hip-hop lore as Brenda and her baby.

From LL Cool J to Dave East, Ghostface Killah and Kendrick Lamar, these are the top ten most memorable Keisha appearances. The similarities between these Keisha’s are so unavoidable, it’s almost as if she were a single woman.

10. Ca$h Out - “Keisha” (Keisha, 2015)

“I like 'them girl named Keisha

My weed I call it Keisha

Need 20k for a fiji

Met a whole world saying they Keisha.”

Ca$h Out, whose biggest hit, "Cashin’ Out," featuring Keisha in the chorus, has a whole album with a title track named after her.

9. Tory Lanez - “Keisha” (Chixtape 3, 2015)

“Yeah, you did me wrong, you did me wrong, Keisha

All I ever wanted was a little piece of your time

Oh, Keisha, did me wrong, did me wrong

And you know you did.”

Tory is a little broken up in this song. Of course, it’s not his fault, and Keisha is to blame.  

8. Playboi Carti - “Middle of the Summer” (Die Lit, 2018)

“You know what I'm saying?

Keisha and them back there

Yeah, Keisha

That muhfucka ring a lil bit

You know what I'm saying?”

PlayBoi Carti pays respect to Keisha and her friends. Keisha apparently being the only girl bad enough to have her name remembered.

7. YG featuring Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q - “I Just Wanna Party” (My Krazy Life, 2014)

“Fucking with Tenisha and Keisha

But when Keisha see Tenisha she gon’ whoop her ass.”

Even with competition, Keisha still remains the baddest in the room.

6. Trouble - “Kesha Dem” (Edgewood, 2018)

“Dreka, Keisha, Felicia, lil' Tiffany

Isha, only type of hoe can even stick wit me.”

Trouble seems to have a harem of women by his side, but Isha’s the only one worthy of long-term commitment.

5. Ghostface Killah - “Keisha’s House” (The Pretty Toney Album, 2004)

“I keep runnin' to the bathroom, shittin' (Where the tissue at?)

I'm blowin' up Keisha bathroom, everybody bitchin', Ghost need his colon cleansed

Countin' up g-stacks, eatin' Ken' Fried Chicken.”

This is neither the first nor the last time Ghostface has mentioned Keisha. It is, however, the most memorable.

4. LL Cool J - “Hot, Hot, Hot” (Phenomenon, 1997)

“Her name was Keisha, full of street knowledge

Pumped a little trees, but she planned to go to college.”

LL might be the first rapper to spit storytelling bars about Keisha. Although the name has been mentioned in passing far before 1997.

3. Lil Wayne featuring Hot Boys - “Kisha” (The Block is Hot, 1999)

“Got a early call from Kisha, Kisha wanted me to meet her.”

Thus begins a song featuring every member of Cash Money’s Hot Boy crew and their respectable stabs at the elusive Keisha. Lil Wayne will continue to mention Keisha numerous times in his career.

2. Kendrick Lamar - “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain)” (Section.80, 2011)

“Sometimes she wonder if she can do it like nuns do it

But she never heard of Catholic religion or sinners' redemption

That sounds foolish, and you can blame it on her mother

For letting her boyfriend slide candy under her cover.”

Section.80 as a whole is a concept album revolving around the lives of two women, Tammy and Keisha. Kendrick uses Keisha as a vehicle to explore topics of race, sexual abuse and gender inequality in America.

1. Dave East - “Keisha” (Kairi Chanel, 2016)

“Got a text from Keisha, ‘I'm in room 17C

I know your with your homies now but later come and see me.’"

Perhaps the last great New York storytelling song has Keisha seducing and robbing Dave East. She doesn’t even leave his phone. Dave East continues the story on his next album with the aptly-titled “I Found Keisha,” where she’s murdered and found in a pool of her own blood.

News Reporter

Donny Morrison is a news reporter covering the city beat for the Daily Emerald. In the past he's written feature stories for both Ethos Magazine and The Torch. He takes strictly cold showers.

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