Krizz Kaliko has made huge strides throughout his musical career, finally reaching a point where he can try something new. In this exclusive interview, Tech N9ne talks about the musical journey Krizz has made through the years and the new lanes it opens up for the rest of the label.
What’s it been like to see Krizz develop musically from Vitiligo to now?
Krizz started out singing. To see him turn into a master MC? That is crazy. To hear him on a song with me and Eminem, that is something. I’ve been to church with him when he’s doing a gospel explosion with his wife. He’s been singing! He sings at people’s weddings. All the years we’ve been doing this, he’s been singing at people’s weddings, not rapping at them. When people call him in Kansas City to do the national anthem, they don’t have him rapping. I’ve been seeing him sing at hockey games, basketball games.
It’s awesome to hear him finally do a whole singing album. The way he executed it, aw man, it’s something. He says, “I feel funny up there without you”. I said, “don’t worry, I’ll be there too.” We shall meet in the middle. K.O.D’s gonna be here for you whenever you wanna come back down to hell (laughs). It’s time to go to heaven right now, Krizz. GO, God’s Order.
The response has been huge.
Totally man. I was skeptical of how the Strange fan’s would receive Krizz’s music, but when we dropped “Stop The World”, I was pleasantly surprised that people were all for it. You’ve got like one or two guys like “what is this singing shit?” but it ain’t my fault they came in at K.O.D. I’ve been doing music since the early 90’s. If you go back to Calm Before The Storm, all those elements are in there. All that three dimensional shit, it’s all in there. I was quoting Jim Morrison back then.
It sounds like a singing album has been a long time coming. Both Travis and Seven have been wanting to do this. His fans have wanted this. What part did you play in it?
I don’t know what part I played, I just wanted to be involved, because the music he was recording was so monumental. All I had to say was, “You’ve gotta put me on that one. You’ve gotta put me on that one…and that one.”
I’m on four features, but I’m just proud to be part of it, because it’s so humongous. Even during his video shoots, I wanted to be there – to witness history. When people hear this music, they’re going to love it. He has a song for everyone. That’s what we pride ourselves on at Strange – having something for everybody. Sometimes when you do that, you might not please some people. That’s what I had to come to grips with.
I got a new song on my album called, “I Get It Now, I’m A Weirdo”. When you look at all the pictures around here at Strange. It’s a picture of a bald black dude with face paint on and a uniform – it’s such a different type of thing. Not that it’s not been done before, but the way we do it, I don’t see too many people out there like us, or like me.
With that being said, we always make it a point to try to include everybody in some kind of way. Krizz, he totally did it on GO, man. It’s still him – it’s still his dysfunctional ass. It’s still his bipolar ass. It’s just singing. The rap shit that he’s got on there though is elite. It’s Krizz, me, JL, Wrekonize, CES Cru, and Rittz. That’s colossal!
What’s it like being on a track where anybody can steal the show?
It’s tense up here at Strange when it comes to bussin’ with lyricists, because you have a roster full of lyricists. If you’re the flagship artist like Tech N9ne, and you’ve got Rittz, Wrekonize, CES Cru, Krizz, Stevie Stone, Prozak, Brotha Lynch, MURS, that’s a lot of rapping. That’s crazy. You have to hold your own here at Strange because somebody can step up and take the light like Ubi did on “PBSA”. You’ve gotta be ready. You’ve gotta rap behind Godemis. When we did “Unfair”, I had to murder. You’ve got lyricists on here so you really have to be on your toes. People will let you know, “Oh, he got you Tech!”.
When you’re one of the best, you’re going to pick people that can do that and then some. I want the hardest cats on my team. A lot of people don’t want folks on their team that can take their shine, but I think that these guys deserve to have shine. Krizz Kaliko deserves to be a multi-millionaire – even a billionaire. With as much talent as he has, he deserves to.
Look at Eminem. That’s a perfect example of a lyricist being one of the most successful rappers in the history of hip hop, but people always talk shit on the mainstream rappers. They talk about how everybody is using auto-tune. There’s room out there for all of us. When you have people like Kendrick making it through with lyricism and artistry. You can’t cry when you’ve got J. Cole and Kendrick, Immortal Technique, Rhymesayers, Hopsin, and Tech N9ne. It’s all out there for you. People say, “There’s too much Fetty Wap out there, there’s too much 2 Chainz, too much Migos”. It’s out there for all of us. There’s always alternatives. I choose lyricism, because I feel that there’s a forum for that shit.
There’s always going to be people saying, “Strange is going mainstream”. How do you respond to that criticism?
It’s like this: there’s this crazy guy that wanted to start a label with another crazy guy. The first crazy guy I spoke of is Travis O’Guin, and he tells the other crazy guy, “Hey man, I like what you do, we should do a label.” The other crazy guy is like, “Yeah man, I’m into Rock N’ Roll man! I rap, but I’m really into Rock N’ Roll. We should name this label Strange Music because I’m really into Jim Morrison and I really love The Doors. Strange is the way! I’ve always been strange, growing up in a black neighborhood, they always called me strange. So, let’s name it Strange.” Then, we start Strange Music.
A lot of my life was dark because I had a drug problem, the way I conducted myself, and my mom was sick. So the label was built on this other crazy dude. He’s got party and gangster shit, but all-in-all is kind of weird.
Over the years, the first crazy guy says, “man, my daughter can really sing”. She started singing opera music in elementary school and just grew up to be this really remarkable songstress. So, sixteen years down the line, she’s grown into a very, very talented artist. We said, you know what, we’re not going to start another label, man. Tech N9ne has always been a genre bender, so why not? He wants his daughter to be prosperous in music, so fuck what anybody is talking about. As long as that guy who started the structure appeases all the people that are there, because he’s still fucked up, shut up!
Don’t talk to me about pop music on Strange because you think it should only be this, when I am everything. I’ve done songs with Deftones, System of a Down, Corey Taylor, Mint Condition. I got Wayne on a song with T-Pain and called it “Fuck Food”. It’s perfect for Tech N9ne. I’ve done shit with Excision. I’ve always been a genre bender. When this comes along, when Darrein Safron comes along, all that shit I did with Mint Condition is out the window? Krizz Kaliko has been an R&B singer since we started. Now that we’re doing Mackenzie Nicole, Darrein Safron, Above Waves, and Krizz’s new album, anybody that’s talking shit? I don’t really care about.
Travis is proud of his little girl. Fuck yeah I’m going to endorse it. Fuck yeah I think Darrein is talented and can out-rap a lot of these people out here talking shit. Talking shit about his singing? Fuck them. Don’t listen to it if you don’t like it. I know talent and they are talented. No it’s not dark K.O.D. shit, but it’s something else. So, how do I respond to people saying Strange going mainstream? I hope one of them does go mainstream. I hope the world receives Mackenzie like they’re supposed to. I hope people receive Krizz Kaliko’s new album like it’s supposed to be received, on a major scale.
This crazy Tech N9ne guy is only going to get worse, with being crazy. I’ve seen us have success in mainstream with “Fragile” and “Hood Go Crazy”, and I get it, but it’s one thing I’ll never do. I will never fit in, no matter how good my songs are, I will try and do whatever I can to stand out.
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