They’ve been followed around in the aisles of Cub Foods and asked for autographs on the street. Outside north Minneapolis, though, the grade-school children who make up the KIDS crew of “Hot Cheetos & Takis” fame (formerly Y.N. RichKids) have mostly remained anonymous.
Requests for national TV appearances and magazine interviews were turned down when their song broke big via YouTube in August, with the YMCA staff citing privacy concerns for the children. That issue is now one of several ways in which the KIDS’ parents believe their budding careers have been mishandled.
Between turns in the vocal recording booth at the Institute of Production & Recording last week, the KIDs introduced themselves. There was 10-year-old Antwon Lymas Jr., a k a Ben 10, who belied his explosive, hyper performance in “Hot Cheetos” by coming off as polite and laid-back in his oversized Vikings hoodie. Nasir Smith, 11, had on an equally bright sweatshirt touting his affinity for the video game “Angry Birds” (although Lymas is the most avid gamer, they all agreed). Turns out, Smith has also done some professional modeling, including for Target.
Fitting in as if she were just one of the boys, Jasiona White might have the most extraordinary story outside the group: She has been invited to the White House for her academic achievements as part of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference. Said White, who’s also into drill team, “I’m working hard, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m used to [being the only girl], and now it’s like these guys are my cousins.”
All of them need to maintain a B average in school to participate in the group, and so far they have complied, the parents say. Not part of the action, Damian “Dame” Jones — who rapped the introduction to “Hot Cheetos” — left the group to pursue a solo career, the other kids say. Yes, at age 13. He missed out on what has so far been a highlight for the group: playing to a sold-out crowd at First Avenue last month for 89.3 the Current’s birthday party.
“Everyone was screaming and hollering,” recalled Freeman Hickman, whose main hobby is cross-country skiing, and was wearing a Twins cap embroidered with his KIDS alias, Frizzy Free. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I made it. I’m in the club.’ ”
Here are the KIDS in the order they appear in the song/video:
Dame Jones: Damian Jones, 13 (no longer part of the group). Key verse: “I’m with my crew, and we gonna show y’all what we been snacking on.”
Nasir: Nasir Smith, 11. “Where them Cheetos at? They stay bitin’ like where them mosquitoes at?”
Fly Guy: Glentrell Carter, 11. “Got my fingers stained red and I cannot get ’em off me.”
G-6: Glenn Carter, 12. “Mama said, ‘Slow down, boy, you about to blow,’ but I’m fixin’ to get more.”
Frizzy Free: Freeman Hickman, 10. “Got an icy flow, and I’m super cold.”
Ben 10: Antwon Lymas Jr., 10. “Ben 10 need a snack. You better give it to him or I might snap.”
Lady J: Jasiona White, 10. “I’m gettin’ snacks on snacks on snacks.”
Chips: Tony Everett, 14. He produced the “Hot Cheetos” beat and now raps Jones’ parts.