Baltimore rapper Miss Kam juggles music with her other passion — ophthalmology

Published on: July 12, 2022 6:00 AM EDT|Updated on: July 14, 2022 9:40 AM EDT

6/28/22—Rapper Miss Kam stands for a portrait on the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus while being interviewed by a Baltimore Banner reporter Tuesday.

Kamaria Hall, popularly known as Miss Kam, is unapologetically herself. The 26-year-old artist is a foul-mouthed sweetheart who is reserved, but outspoken. She is protective of others but bares her vulnerability for everyone to see. Kam’s contrasting tendencies are one of the many reasons she is beloved in Baltimore.

Coming off of a string of local headlining performances and opening for nationally established artists like Bbymutha, it’d be plausible to assume Kam is dedicating all of her time solely to her music career. She isn’t. She spends her days as an ophthalmic technician at the John Hopkins Hospital, and has wanted a career in the medical field for a long time.

Miss Kam performs at Metro Gallery for Bbymutha's The Muthaland Tour on April 19, 2022.

“Ever since I was younger, I really loved medicine and I really loved music. Even before I decided I wanted to be an artist, I swore up and down that I was gonna be a neurosurgeon. And then I was like, ‘That’s a lot of money and a lot of school,’ so I got a little bit more realistic,” she said, laughs. “When I was 18, I was applying for hospital jobs. I didn’t get in there, but there was this place where I was getting my glasses from when I was growing up that had an opening for an optician, so I had a retail job selling glasses for a while. I really liked it, but I realized I wanted to work more with doctors.”

After bouncing around to more eye care jobs, Kam found her medical career temporarily on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she continued to apply for opportunities. “I was so passionate about this career that my first job was paying me $10 an hour and I didn’t even care ’cause, I was super-focused on building up my knowledge. Now with this job, I’m getting paid what I wanted, but the money isn’t even a factor, ’cause the money gonna come regardless.”

Miss Kam introduced herself as a rapper to the local scene, and the wider digital world, with her viral #FreestyleFridays video series in 2017, the same year that she began her career in eye care. A handful of singles, an extended-play and an album later, Kam is now a prominent figure in Central Baltimore’s music scene. That position, however, comes with some peaks and valleys. She suffers from social anxiety disorder and often struggles with it during the days of her performances. She remembers a June 16 show at Washington, D.C.’s Songbyrd she was billed for, but couldn’t perform due to a police shutdown.

“That whole day, I had to mentally prepare and rewire my brain to tell myself that you’re not nervous, you’re excited, and nobody knows if you’re doing anything wrong unless you tell them. Then with the whole Songbyrd show, I couldn’t lose my temper like how I used to. Just knowing that the place that I’m in, anybody would kill to be in it,” she said, proud of her growth. “This is not for the weak, it’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s just something I’m gonna have to deal with. I complain about it, but I love it.”

Both of Miss Kam’s careers have intertwined in ways she wouldn’t have imagined. At her Hopkins gig, she once treated someone who ended up being an executive at Def Jam. “I know a lot of people are looking like, ‘When is it gonna be your time?’ I just want them to know it’s coming, and when that time comes, we all can share that together and celebrate. But this career is just granting me opportunities, and I’m using them to continue to show people everything that I have done was not in vain.”

The excitement from fans and supporters is motivating Kam to keep pushing herself and peers around her. She wants to help in the A&R and songwriting areas for others, specifically. “I got a pen and I really just want to help people build up their artistry. Of course I’m going to continue to do my thing, but I feel like I just learned so much that I just want to share with people, and just help people be the best artists that they can possibly be.”

The juggling between two passions hasn’t been easy. She’s pulled all-nighters to perfect her artistic craft, with an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift at the hospital scheduled for the next day.

“I had shows and studio sessions that I didn’t finish ’til 4:30 or 5 in the morning; I came right back in here at 8 off of no sleep,” she said. “I was just talking to my boss the other day about how both are equally important to me because I noticed how much of an impact I have in both. I can heal people with music, I can heal people with ophthalmology.”

When asked about the difficulty of balancing both professions, she replied: “It’s been pretty rough. Trying to figure out how to conserve my energy, you get what I’m saying? Because working in a hospital, you pick up on so many energies, and you’re around sick people all the time. And I’m the kind of person that makes sure every patient that comes into my room leaves smiling, because they already come in not feeling good.”

“So it’s like, you know, seeing sick people every day weighs on you a lot, and that’s eight hours out of my day. Then I get off and have to do everything with my music. I have to go be a superstar at work then go be one on stage. But I wouldn’t trade this feeling for nothing else, because this is what I asked for, this is what I prayed for.”

Miss Kam is currently in and out of the studio, cooking up her “Tew Be Continued” EP, which is scheduled for a September release. She also intends to go back to undergraduate school to become a full-time ophthalmologist.

“I feel like it’s important for me to show people that you can really do whatever you want, and you can do two things at one time, and you can be successful in both of them. A lot of artists have this misconception that if you love your art, anything else is a plan B, and I look at it like they’re both plan A and they’re both going to work.”