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  • Writer's pictureCramer & Del George

Chika: Fairy-Tale Rapper

Today we share a post by Sarah So, who was a student in our Summer 2023 Introduction to the Fairy Tale course.

My name is Sarah So, and I am a student at UCSB studying Psychology and Brain Sciences. My early memories involve my mom reading fairy tale stories to me, so they hold a special place in my heart. Many Korean fairy tale books include unfortunate elements such as those found in the Grimms' or Andersen's tales, so I wasn’t shielded from the "dark side" of fairy tales growing up. A core memory I have is being deeply sorrowful over the ending of the Little Mermaid tale as the mermaid disappears into a foam of bubbles, choosing death for herself over death for her lover.

In an ever-changing and evolving world, everything including fairy tales has followed suit in adapting to new consumers and society. An example of how fairy tales have become Americanized and reflect American diversity can be found in music. When one thinks of rap music, most would not associate it with the stories and tales read to them as children growing up. However, rap artist Chika combines music and fairy tales in her 2021 album Once Upon a Time. It features six songs with titles referring to classic stories and elements of fairy tales such as "Hickory Dickory" and "Cinderella, Pt.2." It's amazing to see how vast the world of fairy tales is, as it reaches through all media, from video games to smartphone apps, movies, and recent music.

It's expected for musical artists to draw inspiration from relatable and relevant topics of daily life in order to entice an audience rooted in the twenty-first century. When there are centuries of music already made, and millions of other artists in the same industry, however, it may prove to be difficult to compose something "original." The typical music genre inspired by fairy tales is classical music, and examples of such classical songs be found in Maureen Buja's blog post, "Classical Music Inspired by Fairy Tales." In an Uproxx Music article, Aaron Williams praises the artist Chika for her creativity and originality, commenting: "artists must grow beyond the bounds of what has already been done." Regardless of an artist's audience's demographic, almost every person has read or consumed fairy tales, either through their upbringing or in film adaptations. It's a bright idea for Chika to have brought two worlds of music and storytelling together, which can be relatable for a large audience.

A castle tower with a flag that has the album name written on it
Chika's "Once Upon a Time" album cover

In her album, Chika transcends the common expectations of rap content as well as precedented genres of fairy-tale music. The album cover is not something complex or intricate–quite contrary, it is a simple illustration of a castle tower. Album covers are more memorable when they are a visual representation of the album matter, and Chika captures just that through a perfect symbol, which captures the classic essence found in many fairy tale stories, bringing about a feeling of nostalgia for viewers.

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