The ‘Welcome To Strangeland’ Interview With Krizz Kaliko – SM Exclusive

Nov 18 2011

Krizz KalikoKrizz Kaliko is arguably the artist that ties together the various sounds of Strange Music. Hook-master, songwriter, and emcee, Krizz Kaliko was responsible for much of the musical scope behind Tech N9ne’s latest Collabos release, Welcome To Strangeland.

Find out what went into the making of Welcome To Strangeland, where the artists on Strange Music go to get their endless amount of material, and how Krizz was orginally responsible for arguably one of album’s greatest songs.

From talking to the different artists about Welcome to Strangeland, one of the big things that keeps coming up is that it’s all one big story and that it intertwines. How much of an impact did you have on that aspect of the album?

Well pretty much like every album. Tech and I are generally a creative force, especially on his projects. He came to me with the idea and told me the it’s going to have to be a mix between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard Of Oz. I was like “Okay!” Generally once he has an idea, if he just gives me a piece of it, we’ve been around each other so much–you know how you have that friend that you can communicate with without really talking? That’s kind of how we are. He gave me a little bit of an idea and I just kind of helped him develop it, come up with a lot of the hooks…just like we normally do.

How does the album compare to recent releases and past Collabos albums?

It’s kind of hard to compare to recent releases. I think we get better with every album man. One thing that I learned from Tech is to constantly reinvent yourself with each project. Compared to the recent releases, what makes it similar is that it’s always elite music. The difference is the concept about this Strangeland and the Caribou Lou waterfall that goes up, because that’s we’re doing–we’re going up in every facet of life.

In comparison to Collabos albums, it’s way different than any of the Collabos albums: it’s only got Strange Music artists on there or potential Strange Music artists. Generally the other Collabos albums just have a lot of Collabos on it., be it Strange Music artists or people that Tech is fond of in music. This one’s only got us on it. I think we all pushed each other to be creative because of the concept of the album.

If you had to pick a song that stands out the most from the rest on Strangeland, which would it be?

“Slave” and “Beautiful Music”. I think “Slave” sticks out because it’s conceptual also in itself. It’s something different. It’s got myself, Kutt Calhoun, and Tech N9ne on it. I like it the best because it’s really creative. All three of us sang on the song. It kind of reminds you of–the concept behind it was, because we all love the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney. It’s traditional for us to watch it every tour. When I heard the beat I said “Tech, we need to pick this man. I’ve got an idea and I want to kind of rap on it.” So I kind of took the lead on the concept on it. I said “We got to do this like O Brother, Where Art Thou?” So I took some of the pieces of some of the dialogue in that movie and just put it into one hook. We’ve been out here working and slaving over this music for a long time. The family is starting to see some of the fruits of our labor. That song to me sticks out the most.

You just mentioned how you referenced that movie. Do you guys find that movies inspire a lot of what you guys talk about?

Absolutely. We’re all big movie buffs and we actually have a lot of inside jokes that are lines from movies. I think that’s probably one of our biggest inspirations.

“Beautiful Music” you mentioned, what can you say about that?

We were just going through beats that the producers sent us and I heard that hook all at one time because I thought about it when it comes to relationships with artists, in Tech’s life and mine, it’s beautiful music and the beautiful pictures that I’m talking about in the hook is the relationship. “I can make this life look good to you, but you really don’t want to be involved in” because it’s really hard to be involved in a relationship with someone that’s a musician. We’re gone all the time, we’ve always got women, there’s all these temptations and these things all around you. Even though this thing looks the most fun to be involved in, if you’re a woman and in a relationship with us, it’s really not something that you want to be involved in, you know what I’m saying? When I heard that beat, as soon as it came on, during the hook part I said “Dude I got this idea.” Tech was like “What?” “I don’t know this whole hook just hit me.” I sang the whole hook to him right then and he was like “Man that’s great” and we just went with it.

Any other songs you want to touch on?

The other one that sticks out, out of the ones I’m on, that I like is “Welcome To Strangeland”. I like it because I kind of like set it up. Tech did it with “Stars” but the real intro song comes next with “Welcome To Strangeland” and I had to be able to explain what this land is that we’re talking about at Strange. It was a challenge. I love a challenge. I had to challenge myself to be able to explain a whole story within sixteen bars. It’s just weird. Being crazy has its perks I guess. It’s probably my second favorite song but it’s probably the most important one that I’m on because it sets up the whole album and lets you see what the concept is right from the second song.

How about “EMJ”?

We were trying to relate the story of EMJ and everybody who was on the tour has a piece of that song. We fit a lot of guys on there. We tried to relate the story and their take on the night when that happened in Reno and mix it with the journey that we’re on. This journey of music that we’ve been on for several years is an Emotional Musical Journey, that’s why we named the song “EMJ”. That was Tech’s idea. That is a really emotional song for everybody. While I didn’t say it’s the most important one on there, it’s probably the most significant emotionally to all of us. I think that people will really feel what we felt that night and what we feel while we’re going through this journey on that song.

What’s it like being the “glue guy” on Strange Music? Do you feel like you have steady expectations to be a Genius?

Absolutely. It’s pressure but I welcome the challenge. I’m the type of person where I feel like I value a lot of myself because of everybody else’s–how do I wanna say this? I feel like everybody else considers me valuable and that’s what keeps me going. People are counting on me. It’s a good pressure to me. I like it myself. I work good under pressure and I work good when I know that people need me. It’s not the type of pressure that makes me feel like “Oh, I have to be this way.” I’m going to do it because of the pressure. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling to be needed man. It makes you feel like a superhero.

How would you describe your progression as an artist from the time you began with Vitiligo to now?

I’ve learned how to be elite man. A lot of praise to Tech N9ne, he was an elite dude right from the beginning and he saw it in me to be that way and I didn’t even look at myself that way. I thought “I got a long way to go” and I did! But he saw something great in me and pushed me into becoming this elite guy. I just learned over the years: when you get on a track you’ve got to smash everybody–that’s what you’re supposed to do. We have friendly competition between all of the artists, especially between Kutt, Tech, and I. We always have pushed each other for the twelve years that we’ve been together. It also makes it to where if we get on tracks with other people, we really try to smash everybody. That’s what we do. Having that momentum behind you for all these years man it’s going to do nothing but make you elite. To have great and super-talented people around you, it’ll make you that elite question. Tech posed this question to us years ago: “What do you do that nobody else does as far as rapping?” Because every third person wants to be a rapper.

Who’s career serves as your main inspiration?

Tech’s man! I have to say Tech N9ne’s career serves as an inspiration to me because I saw him come from a bum to being this superstar that he’s really turning into.

If you had to pick another genre of music to do, and you knew if you picked it that everything would be good to go and it would work out, what would you pick?

Probably gospel music because that’s my background. Everything I do is not to my glory, it’s to God. God has blessed me with the ability to do these things and that’s also where I learned music from–I learned music in church choir, so I would probably say that gospel would be my first choice.

Thank you for taking the time to do this.

No problem.

Click here to purchase Welcome To Strangeland.