Krizz Kaliko Says "Son Of Sam" Is "A Little Bit Of A Liberation"
Exclusive: Krizz Kaliko speaks about his upcoming "Son Of Sam" album, Strange Music's relentless tour schedule, President James Polk, and engaging fans through vulnerability.
A little over a year removed from a career highpoint in Kickin’ And Screamin', Krizz Kaliko is now just weeks away from releasing his fifth full-length album, Son Of Sam. Besides helping maintain Strange Music’s persistent release schedule, Son Of Sam is another chance for Krizz to continue developing his own brand within the label as an individual.
While riding on a bus alongside Tech N9ne on the way to the 14th annual Gathering Of The Jugaloos in Hogrock, Illinois (and with unsurprisingly spotty cell phone service), Krizz Kaliko spoke with HipHopDX about the new album, his relationship with fans and the Strange Music machine. Krizz’s current travels clearly characterize his role and schedule over the last couple years with the quick growth of Strange Music. “That’s how we do, tour, tour, tour,” he said. “Actually I got off the Independent Grind Tour and immediately went on to our tour, which is called Summer Of Strange, which I headlined myself with Stevie Stone and ¡Mayday! We were off for a couple of weeks and then I’m going to do the Gathering Of The Jugaloos today with Tech [N9ne] and then I fly out to New York to do a bunch of press and then boom Wednesday [August 14] we start the Something Else Tour in Canada. There’s no rest for the weary, you know.”
Krizz Kaliko Talks About Son Of Sam And The Title’s Family Significance
While Son Of Sam is Kaliko’s latest offering, the album’s title is one that first surfaced more than three years ago to describe his third album before it’s eventual release under the name Shock Treatment. “I always keep titles for songs and albums kind of in the chamber,” he said, “and I always wanted to do an album called Son Of Sam because Son Of Sam is just me, that’s what it means. My family name is Sam Watson, so that’s my legal name, my government [name], to me it meant more of me. A lot of people know me from Tech N9ne’s music from the last 13 years you know, so I’ve always been kind of his co-writer, his sidekick, his hypeman. Travis [O’Guin],” who co founded Strange Music alongside Tech N9ne more than a decade ago, “has been [the] business partner, I’ve always been Tech’s creative partner. So the more I put out albums the more I was becoming an individual artist. So I always wanted to do an album called Son Of Sam because it felt like to me a little bit of a liberation, not that I needed to be freed from that because that’s been a system that groomed me into being Krizz Kaliko. I’m giving you more of me and that’s pretty much where the title came from.”
In his conversation with HipHopDX, the Kansas City singer / rapper also alluded to the album title’s long-running significance in his family. In an interview with LA Weekly, Kaliko explained that his family lineage traces back to James Polk, who, in 1845 became the United States’ 11th President. “[President James] Polk would have sex with his slaves and sometimes would have children after those encounters,” he told the paper. “He had a daughter named Leia. Sam Watson, a slave owner somewhere else in the country, had relations with his slave and had a child named Sam Watson. When he grew up, he met Leia and they started my family. Everybody for the last several hundred years has been named Samuel Watson, including me and my son.”
On The Freedom Provided By Strange Music And The Label’s Fanship
Krizz’s success has closely paralleled the rise in popularity of Strange Music’s particular brand of weird, and with a talent that lends itself to versatility, Kaliko also explained why the label was a perfect home for him. “The good thing about Strange Music is they allow us to have total creative autonomy and do anything we want to,” he said. “I think that’s the difference between being on a major label and being dictated what kind of artist to be and what kind of songs to make. I said it in a song that I do with Tech N9ne called ‘Strange Music Box’ that I’m just playing with music and I am. There’s not a set way [or] direction that I went on any album ever. The only thing that I did on Kickin’ And Screamin', I dabbled in Dubstep and I used a lot of Dubstep sounds and we even made some Dubstep beats. With this one I’m just playing with music even more, I dig more into my creativity and see what I can pull out, you might get a country song from me, you might get a straight up Hip Hop joint, you might get a R&B song, you might get Opera, I might just murder’em lyrically just straight rappin’ with the rapid fire rapping that we’re known for doing. So you gonna get all of that and I find different ways to do that on each CD.”
In light of the deeply personal and artistically meandering content that Strange Music has allowed Krizz to experiment with, he went on to describe the intimate relationship he has forged with a cult following. “I think that when you’re an artist like myself or Tech N9ne who have a fanbase and have people that are just loyal to us for years, you have to find ways to reinvent yourself every album and that’s what I did again with Son Of Sam,” he said. “I wanna keep that core audience engaged. They love to hear me talk about what I’m going through in my life at the time and that makes it even easier to write, these albums kind of write themselves. I go through mental issues and a lot of people do, I think that’s what ended up engaging a core fanbase for me, I started having songs like ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Bipolar,’ so I just talk about that and all of sudden people are like, ‘Wow, I got the same problem too.’ So I engage them on a common playing field about emotional and mental disorders which I think all creative people have and I try to give them something new.” Beyond the singer’s artistic vulnerability, he has also carried on Strange Music’s tradition of providing an incredible amount of material. “I give the fans plenty of content,” he said. “I shot like 15 videos, I’m gonna be dropping some exclusive one’s with DX too.”
On Son Of Sam’s Sparse Features And Strange Music’s Touring
“I didn’t do a bunch of features,” Krizz said, “I could’ve reached out to a lot of cats, with our popularity we have a lot of reach, a lot of the mainstream cats wanna get down with us but I didn’t even do it. I found that me being on other people’s albums would probably help me more but I really wanted to just give the fans just me, I want them to concentrate on what I’m saying. I’ve done music with Kendrick Lamar, I’ve done stuff with T-Pain, you know, Too Short, Ice Cube. People don’t even know that I’ve worked with all of these artists because mostly it’s been on Tech’s projects but I know how to go into their lane and I know how to bring them into mine. Creatively I don’t have a problem with it, I just do what I want, and fortunately like I said before, I have Strange Music that supports that type of attitude or that type of approach to music so it makes it really easy.”
When asked if he’s been performing the new material onstage, Krizz divulged the release protocol he adopted from Tech N9ne. “Fans will get a preview of it. We sell our albums on the road so we give them a little sneak peek,” he said. “What we like to do, our philosophy and I got this from Tech also, we give’em a sneak peek and then they’ll buy the albums when we’re on tour, you know whether it’s online or at the tour, and by the next tour they’ll know all of the songs so it’s like an even bigger party. It’s the best feeling in the world dude. I almost came to tears the first time people were singing my hook. Even now, when we do ‘Dysfunctional,’ when the people all scream ‘don’t you know!’ I’m like ‘God, I can’t even imagine I just was sitting in my little chair in my house holding my little son while I was writing that song and now thousands of people are singing it,’ that’s an incredible feeling.”
Son Of Sam will be released August 27. Fans can preorder the album now.
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