After releasing five studio albums, Krizz Kaliko, a Kansas City native and travel advocate, is making a huge transition to Pop/RnB on his latest album, which dropped today, “Go”. Although Go is an ambitious creative leap for Krizz, especially since he’s earned so much success as a rapper, it’s a gamble worth taking; the 16-song album is an incredibly solid body of work highlighted by strong musicianship and brutally honest story-telling. With influences ranging from old soul, rock n’ roll, funk vocals, and drum patterns derived from Michael Jackson songs, and vocal stylings that mirror the energy level of Prince, Bruno Mars, and Maroon 5, Go reflects Krizz’ eclectic love affair with music.
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Sean Ritchie: What makes Kansas City so appealing? What makes it home?
Krizz Kaliko: There are many things that make Kansas City great. We’re known for our BBQ’s. I have indigestion so I can’t enjoy it as much as I would like, but I do indulge every now and then. We have really great BBQ restaurants. There are many popular landmarks here in Kansas City. Over the years it has become the city of fountains. Kansas City is also known to be the twin city of Barcelona. When people think of the “twin city” they think of Kansas City, Missouri. The music culture is extremely interesting in town as well. It’s home to some great original jazz and blues. There are many talented musicians that have originated from Kansas City.
Photo courtesy | Jon Dickson
The sports fanaticism is crazy as well! I am absolutely a Royals fan. I have to admit I never watched them much, but then they started to do very well. I find it great to watch. Now, with my vigorous schedule it’s hard to constantly watch, but I like to every now and then. When on tour we do over 200 shows a year, and during that time I wasn’t watching sports at all. However, once the Royals started to do well I had to watch. In addition to being a Royals fan, I also enjoy watching the Chief’s. They’ve both been doing very well, sports is on fire for us. Plus, with the University of Kansas, the sports energy here is crazy.
SR: Yeah I definitely agree! What would you recommend to someone who’s going to Kansas City for the first time? What should they go see?
KK: I would say the Kaufman Sports Complex. I don’t believe there is anywhere else that has a baseball and football stadium next to each other. It’s a breathtaking view; it’s awesome. The fans are great to be around. The sports complex is number one and definitely BBQ restaurants, as well. You have to taste Gate’s Bar B.Q., it’s been around for years and is the most popular. Jack Stacks is next they’re the crème de la crème of BBQ’s here. Third, Arthur Bryant’s BBQ isn’t as famous, but still has great food. Wherever you go in the state you need to taste the BBQ, you will not be disappointed.
SR: That’s great! To touch on your start in music. Where did it begin? What was your initial motivation behind creating your music?
KK: I’ve been doing music all my life. I’m inspired by life to make music. I write my life. I write exactly what happened to me. You can hear it all in the music. Whether it be going through mental issues, or just regular life issues, everything you could think of I’ve written about. I’m just inspired by everything around me to write. I’ve been performing since the fourth grade. I started in the church. I come from music in the church and of course branched out. I’m a rapper/singer hybrid, but my singing started in the church. My mother was a choir director and used to be on me about my pitch and tone. My music is spiritual too. It’s not necessarily religious, but it’s spiritual.
Photo courtesy | Theo GN
SR: That’s a great way to start, very awesome! How does music and travel fit together for you?
KK: Well, here’s the deal, you make your music to travel. That’s what Tech N9ne always taught me. That’s my mentor. Tech said, “Krizz, we make our music to travel, we don’t make it cool just for your family, hood or hometown.” And, we do, we make our music to travel and it’s taken us all around the world. You have to spread the word and the Internet is really great to get your music out there, but you’ve got to go in front of people as well to really relay that message.
We take pride in ourselves for having a dynamite show too — a really killer show. That’s how we really became popular. We were underground, because we’re independent. We were really the blueprint of an indie label on how to do it. We’re the number four grossing label in Forbes magazine. We started in a basement, created our music and eventually were able to travel. People know us from where we’ve performed. Of course when the Internet blew up we did as well. Even to this day when I’m in a place like Berlin, Germany or Sydney, Australia I still think to myself, “Wow, we wrote these songs and they were able to get us here!” It’s great to be able to experience this life and really see the different cultures, people and how every place differs.
SR: Exactly and that’s what really stands out to me with music. Someone doesn’t have to speak the same language that the artist is performing and they are still able to jive out to the same song.
KK: It’s great. It reminds me of music how it translates though the beats. For example Sean Paul, you cannot understand anything that he’s saying, but his music is great! It doesn’t matter what language you speak if it sounds good people will want to jam out.
Photo courtesy | Al Case
SR: Absolutely, it really brings the crowd together which is all the better. When on tour you’ve played shows all over. Are there any cities that stand out in terms of crowd atmosphere? Was that in line with that city’s nightlife?
KK: Austin, Texas has crazy energy and their nightlife is crazy. Denver, Colorado — they’re unmatched. They had 18,000 the last time we were there for Summer Jam. I remember going in 2001 and handing out flyers and sample CD’s to try to get a crowd and now we play there with close to 20,000. The energy also is upbeat. I feel like we’re the Beatles in Denver. Their nightlife downtown is great, as well. Amsterdam is awesome and I know that it’s traditionally said, but we didn’t know if people were even going to come to our concert. Then, it was sold out and people were screaming in the crowd. Afterwards we went out in the streets and it was awesome. All love and tons of parties!
Photo courtesy | Davidlohr Bueso
SR: Yeah, we actually just got back from Austin, covering South by Southwest. I was very surprised by the nightlife.
KK: We usually play there every year, unfortunately this year it couldn’t fit into our schedule.
SR: Your new album “Go” comes out today. What is different about this album and what excites you about this new music?
KK: I sang more on this album. Travis O’Guin, the CEO of Strange Music has been telling me, “You know, we get it. You’re an awesome rapper.” But, I feel that I have something to prove, because I’ve been an elite MC for all this years, but I sang hooks too. I came from singing, so we agreed that I would do an all-singing album. I would say it’s about 95-percent singing. I rap on like three songs. It’s really different, I’ve always kind of scaled the genres on my albums, rock, pop and straight up hip-hop joints, but this one I was writing my life again. I wanted to start the album off fun and then get into the things I was going through in life later on. It kind of has a more a serious note. I definitely just sang my heart out on this album. Singing is the most different thing I did — singing mostly. So, it’s a pop, R&B, hip-hop album.
Photo courtesy | Allan Watt
SR: That’s awesome, looking forward to it! I know you’re well traveled and been all over the world, but are there any destinations that you haven’t been to yet that you’re dying to go to? Either personal or performing?
KK: Yes, Asia and Africa are my two top destinations I would love to travel to.
SR: What makes Asia and Africa really stand out?
KK: I would say the culture. Just to see where we’ve all evolved from in Africa. Definitely Johannesburg, I’ve heard amazing things. Also, Asia is very spiritual and tells a message of how to live — the way you eat and the Zen mindset. They have the right idea. Dubai is great too. I would love to go to Dubai soon.
Photo courtesy | Audible Treats
SR: Lastly, the next trip is for the album tour?
KK: Yes, the next trip is for the album. We started the tour March 30th and it goes until May 28th. We started in Oklahoma and end in Saint Louis. We might possibly do Australia after, but it’s go time and the name of my album is “Go”, so that’s what we’re going to do. Spread this music around the world. Our tour is actually mostly sold out already around the country.
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For more information on Krizz Kaliko visit his website or find “Go” on iTunes: