ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue76

"Rep That West" Interview with Tha Artist Kali by Jhantu Randall w/ Blood, Sweat, & Tears music video

I met this artist at a gig about a year ago and we just seemed to click right away. Beyond his music, there was just a way he carried himself that drew me into highlighting his story. Without going in too deep, I found out through previous conversation that he had a link or connection to Snoop Dogg, so while I didn’t really dive into that, just the name recognition alone told me that ThaArtist Kali was definitely on the right path. We sat down at a random sports bar near Parkland, WA and I just turned on my recorder and began talking. I only intended for a 10 minute interview but we talked for almost an hour about all aspects of music and just life as an artist. Unfortunately, I had to condense the interview to roughly 1200 words or less so a lot of the interview wont be transcribed this time around. I will say that if you ever have a chance to attend one of Kali’s shows, take it. The man has a stage presence that allows him to own that stage whether he’s the opener or the anchor closing it out. If you West Coast to your heart, Kali’s verses will speak to your soul.


Jhantu Randall: This is JT the Poet with ThaWilsonBlock Magazine, and I’m here with ThaArtist Kali. How you doing today?
ThaArtist Kali: Wassup Wassup, Wassup. How you doing?

Jhantu Randall: Doing good, I just wanna start by letting the people know who you are. Give them a little something on yourself...
ThaArtist Kali: So, um, I’m Tha Artist Kali, grew up in Southern California. 2017 signed to PimpOn Ent, Return of Doggystyle records. The last year I've been doing some independent work. I haven't dropped my album with them, but we still working on some stuff.

Jhantu Randall: Is it a distribution thing?
ThaArtist Kali: I have my own distribution but I have them as well. I have a bunch of projects coming up. I got one with Maseratti-o who's with THE Blackout who’s with Chris Brown’s team.

Jhantu Randall: Oh yeah? How did you manage to work that?
ThaArtist Kali: From going back to Cali and working. I got my guy, Bugsy. Alex “Bugsy” Johnson who's my rap partner. We’re working on a lot of projects together as well.

Jhantu Randall: So when did you start this? When was the moment you were like, this is real?
ThaArtist Kali: Well I don’t know. I was a poet before I was a rapper. I didn’t know how to rap but at 12 I knew I always wanted to. At 14 I wrote my first song, I don’t know, Ive always had that drive to be an entertainer.

Jhantu Randall: I think that's the commonality between all of us artists. For myself, if I wasn’t writing articles or performing, I’d still be writing just to get things off my chest.
ThaArtist Kali: Ya, its free therapy. It’s life, that’s where poetry stems from anyways. It was the outlet growing up. I always remember my mom saying “Shut the Hell up” so in order to express myself I didn’t do hip hop at home.

Jhantu Randall: So what I’m picking up on is that your poetry and your rapping was your art of rebellion
ThaArtist Kali: Well ya…I mean it was just my voice

Jhantu Randall: That’s dope. When did this really start picking up for you?
ThaArtist Kali: Well Ive met several people who taught me how to really brand myself more. One of those guys is Kingpin. He goes by Kingpin, his name is Dwight, I just remember talking to him and he really helped me develop my own sound that says ‘Me’ One thing in this industry is you gotta be yourself.

Jhantu Randall: That leads me into another question. I mean everyone sounds a bit like who they listen to, so who were your influences coming up?
ThaArtist Kali: I don’t want to say I sound like him, but someone who influenced me a lot was 2pac. This was the 90’s so Ice Cube, and remember, Dre and them were still making a lot of noise and Snoop was dropping music around the same time. That was influential. A lot of gangsta music, its just what was going on in the hood ya know.

Jhantu Randall: You may disagree with this, I listened to west coast but I always gravitated to the East coast, people like Nas, Talib Kweli, but I always looked at gangsta rap as political and social rap with a
street element backed by a 70’s bass beat. I mean Dre was a genius when it came to those samples.
ThaArtist Kali: Right! Well I was born in Cleveland, Ohio originally so I have this more Midwest/East coast flow going on, but I got that west coast vibe from my heart. I mean that's where I found my voice.

Jhantu Randall: That’s interesting, I mean the Midwest is really known for their double time spit. With people like Twista and Bone Thugs n Harmony.
ThaArtist Kali: Right, Right. I got that too, I just haven't come out with it yet. When you can rap like that, you can rap over any beat really.

Jhantu Randall: Shifting gears a bit, what was your first project you came out with?
ThaArtist Kali: So I had done some songs before but I haven't really released any. So I did some crunk stuff and we used to hit the clubs. We had the crowds but we never really released it to Spotify or anything. We really released our first tracks in 2017 when I got signed, then in January and in March. I released my first single “The Streets is Cold”

Jhantu Randall: Where can people reach you to hear your music?
ThaArtist Kali: Well you can go to Soundcloud and hear me for free, or look me up on Spotify, just search for ThaArtist Kali. You can also find me on Google Play, iTunes, YouTube. Just google my name and it'll come up, man.

Jhantu Randall: So you said you were originally from Cleveland, how long did you stay in Cali?
ThaArtist Kali: Shit, I lived there for like 15 years. I was 10 and my mom moved us out there. I got in trouble, been to Gladiator school, Chino and places like that. I went in when I was 15 and got out at 22. I went back to Ohio but missed the west coast so I came here. Gang life and all, I know I would've gotten into some shit if I went back, so I came here where its the same vibe really. Got family down in Kent so I’m good here.

Jhantu Randall: I remember meeting you last year at El Corizon. I couldn't get in but I met you and members of the Dogg Pound. Spit for Nate Dogg’s son, so it was a good night overall
ThaArtist Kali: Oh yeah, we threw that party. We had a lot of underground artists with us. Bugsy was there, there were a few people. Make sure you come to the next Kali show cause we’re just beginning. We got more.

Jhantu Randall: Well I want to thank you for coming here and meeting with me
ThaArtist Kali: No problem, yo we got more coming. Rock with me on Facebook, Instagram @thaArtist Kali and mess with us. At the end of the summer (September 7th) we have a big blowout with The Luniz and some guests so definitely come out and party with us.

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