The Beat of His Own Drum: KILJ’s Rise in the Music Scene

Photo Credit: KILJ
  • Save

Photo Credit: KILJ
  • Save
Photo Credit: KILJ

It takes an extraordinary teenager like KILJ to balance school and a career that focuses primarily on music but includes acting and dancing.

Ascend Agency is working with Digital Music News to create opportunities for artists to be visible to the music industry.

Typically, one or more of the “balls in the air” get dropped. Jelani Lofton, better known as KILJ, has managed to balance and achieve remarkable success in all of his endeavors by following the beat of his own drum.

This rising star from Prince George’s County, Maryland, now Atlanta-based, began his journey into music at just 14 years old. At the heart of KILJ’s inspiration to create music was his admiration for the late Juice WRLD. He admired the rapper’s music and its ability not to express wealth and flamboyance but deeper feelings and emotions, which made a profound impression on Jelani. Emulating his idol’s emotional honesty, KILJ brings a similar vulnerability to his songs.

“Juice WRLD showed me that you can be vulnerable in your songs and talk about more than just flexing money or status,” KILJ shares. As a result, his music speaks of raw emotions and personal experiences that connect deeply with his listeners.

However, juggling school and music was challenging for the young rapper. While pursuing his high school education, creating music, and auditioning for TV roles, KILJ found himself caught in the whirlwind of his burgeoning career.

“There were times where I couldn’t release a song for months and times where I was really behind in school because of it,” KILJ admits. Yet, he struck an impressive balance, conquering the Herculean task of graduating high school in June 2023 while maintaining his musical ambitions.

KILJ’s unique industry perspective is deeply rooted in his rich entertainment background. Prior to his musical ascent, he was a national competitive dancer and television actor, appearing in numerous TV shows and commercials. This diverse background not only enriches his creativity but also sets him apart from his contemporaries.

This unique package has made him stand out and is attracting the attention of the music industry and a surging fan base. “Being a teenager with over 25 million streams on my music that I recorded in my bedroom, without a record label, feels surreal,” KILJ reflects on his success. Notably, he was invited to the #GRAMMYsNextUp Event hosted by The Recording Academy, a distinct recognition of his talents and potential. Yet, it’s the personal messages from fans, crediting his music with saving their lives, that KILJ prizes most.

KILJ’s vision for the future is as bold and distinct as his music. He aspires to achieve a place on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, earn gold and platinum accolades, and tour frequently. It’s an ambitious goal, but given his track record of balancing school and a burgeoning music career, anything is possible, even probable.

The music trajectory KILJ is on serves as an inspiration to young artists everywhere. Despite the odds, his rise in the music scene has been impressive, both in his accomplishments and as an example of an artist who remained in school to complete his education. With each beat of his drum, KILJ creates a rhythm that continues to inspire and resonate with the hearts of millions, establishing his unique voice in the world of music.