We interviewed New Jersey rapper Kaly about his musical origins, what he’s working on currently and his choice between ATCQ and De La.
One of the most decorated characters we’ve come across in recent times, US-native Kaly (who isn’t actually from Cali, by the way) is beginning to build up a reputation of speaking his mind via the interwebz. The NJ by-way-of Philly rapper spoke to Sampleface in March about his beginnings, his future, Twitter and everything in between.
Note: Kaly’s answers are written in American-English. The Z’s and lack of U’s are jarring as fuck, but we’ve left them in for authenticity. Word to you, bruh.
Sampleface: Let’s dance! Kaly, introduce yourself…
Kaly: Kaly. That’s my first and last name.
SF: Kaly Kaly. I like it. How did you get into music?
K: When I was younger, I used to watch a bit of Bollywood cinema here and there, and it got me thinking about how to approach women. As a big-rimmed-glasses-wearing- bowl-cut-having Indian kid, I needed all the help I could get. I figured writing poetry, like I saw in the movies, would be my in. Needless to say, it didn’t quite work how I expected haha. Eventually, I started setting that poetry to music and realized I was pretty good at it.
SF: Big-rimmed-glasses-wearing-bowl-cut-having Indian kid. You got a picture of this or nah?
K: Fuck outta here.
SF: What’s the rap scene like around you, right now?
K: If you’re speaking about the South Asian rap scene, in America, I would say it’s non-existent. There’s definitely a lot of guys calling themselves rappers, not really putting in the work to be worthy of that title. Everyone goes for self out here, there isn’t really any camaraderie or outlet for our artistry like you see in the UK/Canada, so I can’t say there is much of a scene really. As far as the regular rap scene, it’s cool I suppose, a lot of “how did that get on the radio?” all the time. The game has definitely changed, to where before you needed talent to rock, that’s not so much the case nowadays.
SF: That’s interesting, definitely with you on the airwave questionability. What musicians ARE you feeling currently?
K: I find myself listening to a lot of Nipsey Hussle, and that new Rick Ross album, too. Nothing crazy on my end, but definitely Nipsey if we’re talking up-and-coming artists.
SF: How important has social media been for your career?
K: I actually try not to stress social media too much, I feel like its importance is really emphasized too much nowadays – to where everyone believes they have to be a certain way on it. I definitely understand how helpful it can be – I love Instagram – but I try to be just natural. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t push my material on anyone via social media. If you’ve heard it because of social media, I’m grateful, and hopefully you pass it on.
SF: Fair enough. You’re not that shy on Twitter, though…
K: Yeah, ‘industry’ people have always asked me about that and I guess my response is the same as what I said above: social media really doesn’t mean much to me. To that extent, I’m not going to create some fake persona on Twitter just for the sake of music. I am who I am, and you’ll definitely see that on my Twitter. I didn’t start [Twitter] just to spam people with my [music] links or act all Holier-than-thou, y’know?
SF: What are you working on currently?
K: I’ve been putting together a new project, Letters from Agrabah, that will probably be done in the next 2-3 months. It’s my rendition of Aladdin, the classic story of the brown boy trying to make it to the top and get the girl. Besides that, just always looking for new artists and producers to work with; chances are, your favorite artist knows who I am, so I stay collaborating on records.
SF: Alright, if you had to choose one… London or NYC?
K: I definitely have to say NYC. I’ve spent my fair share of time in London though, so that’s not to say it isn’t a beautiful city. I’m just loyal to my home.
De La Soul or ATCQ?
K: Will I get murdered for saying neither?
K: I’ve definitely listened to them, and understand what they brought to the game, I’m just more of a 2Pac/DMX type of guy.
SF: NJ or Philly?
K: This ain’t even a question, Jersey! Jersey will always win over everything for me. My home-state, and I genuinely believe it’s the best place to be.
SF: Instagram or Twitter?
K: Instagram for sure, I hate people’s thoughts generally. I prefer to look at pretty things.
SF: So… Rihanna or Beyonce?
K: If I had to choose, Beyonce. At least she has talent (amongst her many other assets).
SF: Jay Z or Jay-Z?
K: As an English major, for some reason, that hyphen really speaks to me, ha.
SF: Finally, who you rooting for – MIA or the NFL?
K: WTH is MIA? I’m just gonna go with the NFL ’cause it has to mean “National Football League” right?
K: I don’t know why we’d compare Miami with the NFL, so I’m just going to imagine MIA is some other sports grouping that I don’t know about.
K: I’m American though, so NFL. NY Giants all day!
SF: Dude, read this.
K: OH. Well. That was embarrassing. MIA all day! IDGAF what she does. She could burn a murti to Lucifer whilst drinking dead baby blood and I’d still pick her. If I could find an Indian broad with even a quarter of the individuality and genuine ability MIA possesses, I’d be set, but that’s another topic.
SF: MIA is Sri Lankan.