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Rapper Krizz Kaliko Says He's Related to President James Polk

Krizz Kaliko
Krizz Kaliko

Kansas City based rapper Krizz Kaliko, who records for Tech N9ne's Strange Music label, performs at Los Globos tomorrow along with labelmates ¬°Mayday! and Stevie Stone. We spoke to Kaliko about his upcoming album Son of Sam, and his peculiar family tree.

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Rapper Krizz Kaliko Says He's Related to President James Polk

The title for your upcoming album was rumored to be Shock Treatment. What made you choose it?

I usually like to tie-in the music with the title and the artwork. I saw a couple images that were really dope as I was creating Shock Treatment and I was like "Yeah, I want to do something like that, but that won't go good with Son of Sam" so I changed it to be cohesive. I decided to save Son of Sam for the next one because there's a story behind it.

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The eleventh President of the United States, James K. Polk would have sex with his slaves and sometimes would have children after those encounters. [Editor's note: Some accounts say that Polk was sterile.] 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 too. That's always been something that I wanted to express.

Is there a story behind the cover art? It's noticeably less elaborate than most Strange Music covers.

The last two sons of Sam are me and my son. So, I wanted it to be really simple. Nothing's going to distract you from the music. I wanted it to be a reflection, because the reflection of me is my child and that's the last of the lineage. I wanted it to be really simple, but still jump off the paper at you.

Prior to Son of Sam, you put out the Neh'Mind EP and the Kicking and Screaming album. Do you usually work on several projects at once, or do you tackle these releases one at a time?

I usually work on these projects one at a time, but sometimes there's songs I feel aren't cohesive with the other songs when I put the album together. My music's all over the place, it's rock, it's rap, it's R&B and I always still make that cohesive. Sometimes, a song won't fit in what I think is the cohesive album and I'll still want to use it, but mostly I work project to project.

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Seeing that you dabble in so many different genres to create a distinct Kaliko sound, has there ever been a song you recorded that you felt was perhaps too weird to release?

There's probably been several. I have one on my album right now that might be too weird. It's a country song called "W.A.N.S." which stands for "We All Need Sex." I don't know how our fans are going to take it. It sounds kind of like a big ass hit, but it's going to be weird for our stable fans. I've been threatening to do a country song forever, and the response has been, "Man, you're awesome, you can do anything."

You've been very open in your career, from naming your album Vitiligo to recording a song called "Bi-Polar." Do you ever hesitate to do this kind of thing?

Never. Tech N9ne calls it "Too Real for TV." I choose to be transparent. I've never been able to hide this vitiligo from anybody and I've been able to gain fans from having it. Since the beginning, the fans seem to dig it, it's stuff that identifies with problems that they have. There's hundreds of kids with my tattoos, so once I knew that the method worked to be transparent, I just stuck with it. No hesitation ever.

Do you recall the first time you felt that sort of response?

I remember the song "Anxiety" kinda did it. Me talking about having an anxiety disorder and making it a song that just rocks on stage too was the first time. When I did "Bi-Polar" and "Hello Walls" and "Created A Monster," that's when I knew because those were the songs they connect to most. I have an open email to hear from people who it relates to their life. The by-product of all this is album sales, but it's able to touch people.

When preparing for a show that you're headlining, like this one, is it much different than preparing for a show that you're supporting?

No. I'm so involved with Tech N9ne's production and music, that I prepare the exact same way. This tour I had to go a little over and above because I have a new hype guy on stage with me who has never toured. Tech and I have the bar set very high, so we had to go hard to prepare. I had to cram like you do for an exam, but it's going great.

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