Topeka teens’ music making rounds on Internet
Topeka Two girls who met in 2008 at a Topeka summer camp became best friends, and now they are becoming something of an Internet sensation, representing a clothing line and collaborating on musical endeavors they hope will inspire youths to have positive views of themselves.
The girls, Makiyah Boyd, 14, and Aliya Hazim, 12, have been rapping together since 2011 and recording their songs since 2012, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Boyd is a freshman at Highland Park High School, where she is a starter on the girls' junior varsity basketball team, while Hazim is a seventh-grader at French Middle School and is involved in dance and ballet in her free time.
The pair put on an impromptu performance of their song "Major Swag" at Hillcrest Community Center, where they attended the summer camp together.
"I was kind of nervous," Boyd said. "I had never been in front of people before, but now it's not that hard for me."
The girls continued to perform together and would often make up their own songs while spending time at Hazim's house. In 2011, they named themselves the Candii Gyrlz.
They went into the recording studio and recorded songs such as "Fly Like My Moma" and "Huh." Eventually, their songs were placed on Internet music sites such as Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Hazim said the girls want their music "to inspire people to chase their dreams," something she said she and Boyd are doing through their music.
Officials with the Yukk clothing brand discovered one of the Candii Gyrlz music videos online and became interested in the girls' music, said S.J. Hazim, Aliya's father, who is overseeing the girls' musical career.
The elder Hazim said a deal was struck to have the Candii Gyrlz wear the clothing brand in their musical performances and on their website, www.candiigyrlz.com.
Hazim said the clothing brand was most impressed with the way the girls presented themselves in their videos — as young girls who were content being young girls, rather than young girls trying to be older than their actual age.
"They're not afraid to be themselves," the elder Hazim said. "They do all kinds of different dances, smiling and acting silly — being kids.
"You have a lot of kids trying to act older than they really are nowadays," he said. "That's the thing I've always liked about them. They're just being kids. But they're also really mature. They want other kids to chase their dreams and they want to be good examples and role models."
Earlier this year, Hazim was promoting a project called the "Anti-Social Agreement Pledge," which was designed to help youths stay off cellphones and social media sites — and if not stay off them altogether, then to keep their use to a minimum.
The "ASAP" initiative has since developed into "Computer Drugs," a documentary on device addiction that is scheduled to air on public television at the beginning of February in the Washington, D.C., area.
Hazim said he continues to promote the message of device addiction, but now is emphasizing the part about the young person controlling his or her use of social media, rather than the other way around.
"I don't want people to misperceive my message and think that I'm anti-smartphone," Hazim noted. "I know the smartphone is a very powerful and useful tool and we need it.
"But there's a line between productive use and addictive use. That's where I want people to be aware of — whether they use it as a tool or whether they cross the line and are addicted to their smartphones."
Hazim said he is enjoying working with his daughter and Boyd, seeing them develop their self-confidence and creative abilities.
"I can tell you it's not been easy, but the reward is worth it," the elder Hazim said. "I've always wanted to help the girls develop their dream."
He said he didn't know how far the girls' career would take them, but he was certain that their experience to date will serve them well, no matter what path they go down in the future.
"Regardless of what's coming out of this — if everything was to stop next week — it's all about the journey," he said. "It's all about their confidence: Don't be swayed or broke down by your circumstances. As long as you've got faith in yourself and faith in God, then all things are possible."