Kaliii's New EP Will Have You Ready For 'FCK GIRL SZN'
Kaliii photo courtesy of Atlantic Records
In a competitive rap scene, Kaliii’s undeniable authenticity, creative formula, and baddie aesthetic propelled her into a viral TikTok sensation and rising hip-hop star. With a self-professed mission of making music “for the girls,” Kaliii continues to command our attention through her nonchalant yet mesmerizing approach to lyricism.
Having every reason to be braggadocious, Kaliii doesn’t jump to flex on her haters, as she would much rather let her music speak for itself. A genius at creating explosive records, Kaliii’s pen game includes viral hits, "Mmm Mmm", "K Toven" and, most recently,"Area Codes", a top 10 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. As she promotes her highly anticipated second EP, FCK GIRL SZN (out now), Kaliii breaks down how her new musical era came to life, going viral, and being ‘that girl.’
Being from Roswell, Georgia, how do you incorporate that iconic Southern rap sound into your music?
I feel like the Southern sound is not just one [vibe]. I feel like everybody has [been] unique in their own [way], like their sound and authenticity. That's why I love being from Georgia and just making music out here, because I feel like everybody's music is different. That's how I incorporate my [roots] in music. I'm just myself.
You’ve been doing music for a while, but ‘Area Codes’ was such a hit. Did you have a feeling it would go viral on TikTok?
‘Area Codes’ was like my third viral TikTok song. I didn't think that it was gonna go viral on TikTok, but I knew it was gonna be a great song. Like, I knew people were gonna love it. It's so different from my other songs and what people have heard. So, I knew it was a good song.
I called my team and was like, “This is gonna be the one.” But I didn't know that it was gonna be the [big] one. [Especially] with how it's taking me and putting me in different rooms.
People try to make women feel like they can’t have “hoes in different area codes,” but why do you think it’s important for women to have a roster?
I just think it's important for a woman to be dating and have options. To figure out what she likes and figure out what she wants. One person may have one thing, the other person may have another. I feel like you should be dating until you can find out exactly what you want and need. And, [once] that person has everything, you can settle down. I like this person [and] I go on dates with them. I talk to them and I talk to your homeboy too. No shame. There's nothing wrong with that because that's what they do.
You were also chosen to be a part of the TikTok Elevate emerging artists program. How did you react to being accepted into it?
I love everyone at TikTok. So, I'm just happy. They always support me up there. The team is really great [and] it feels good knowing that every time I am on TikTok, people are really paying attention.
Oh no, absolutely not. I feel like that's where artists mess up. [Artists] try to create a viral moment, and then you think you know something, but you really don't know what people want and like. So, that's why it's important just to be yourself, be authentic to you, and make good music. Before [TikTok] everyone wasn't like, “Oh, I need to make this for TikTok.” Why start now? It just happens.
Your last EP is titled Toxic Chocolate. Are you really toxic?
I can be at times. I'm only toxic to you if you're toxic to me. It starts off real cute, starts off real deep, and then I peep game and it's up. On my next EP, I have a song called, ‘Say Too Much,’ and it says, “In Kaliii, we trust” so you should listen to it.
How did it feel being featured on the Barbie film soundtrack?
Yeah, just being a part of Barbie is amazing. Honestly, it's my childhood. It was me growing up and everybody wants to be Barbie or play with Barbies. There’s a lot of artists I feel that could [have] been picked to be a part of the Barbie soundtrack, and for me to be a part of that is amazing. That's so exciting.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people think Black artists only listen to hip-hop. What other genres or artists do you listen to that people would be shocked about?
I'd say, definitely pop [music]. Sometimes, you don't want to keep hearing the same thing. You know, I make rap music and stuff, so sometimes I want to get in the car and turn on some Miley Cyrus. Sometimes I want some Justin Bieber.
You are starting off so strong in your career. Let’s take time to manifest. When you look at your career 5 years from now, what have you accomplished?
Honestly, my biggest accomplishment would be for girls to look at me and be like, ‘Callie did it. If she took it as far as she could, I could do it.’ There's not a lot of girls that look like me in the industry, but I just want them to look at me and be [inspired]. I just want the girls who look like me to be the best. I want them to take over. I do this for the girls.
You recently hit the VMA stage! Your performance of “Area Codes” was amazing. What was it like preparing for such a big moment? It was so nerve-wracking because as an artist, you want to do so great and you want to kill it. But I did that! Like, this is my jam. I loved it. I was so excited [and] anxious. But in the end, I had a great team [and] dancers surrounding me, and everybody was just great. Everybody that put it together was amazing. [Afterwards] we went out, had some drinks. I think it was the moment where everybody realized, ‘Wow, girl, you went up there and killed it.’
A lot of your fans were singing word for word. They seem to be so supportive. Tell us what the relationship with your fans is like?
We are still building. We just got a name [for the fanbase]. They’re ride or dies. They are always in there taking up for me and just having my back always. I love them just like they love me.
What can we expect from your new EP, FCK GIRL SZN?
Y'all can expect some great collabs [and] great songs that I'm really excited about. I'm [very] excited about this tape coming out. Honestly, [it’s] for the girls. I'm trying to make sure we are not in our feelings. I know cuffing season is coming and the girls get shaken up a little bit. But, even though it's getting a little chilly, I just need the girls to stay strong. So [this project] has good advice, great music, and great collabs.
What was your mindset going into this project? Because your music always stands out from your peers.
I feel like nobody is me and I'm not them. So, my mindset is different. When I create music, I used to only make music for myself. Like, “this is what I want to hear.” But now [I also] listen to my supporters and stuff and what they want. I listen to what they want, take it into account, and do it in my own way.
Across social media, you are definitely “That Girl.” What does that title mean to you?
I feel like ‘That Girl’ is effortless, kind and driven. And, I feel like you can't call yourself the ‘It Girl’ because you just [have] to give off that energy. [Always] give good energy, good vibes, be kind to people, and work hard. I feel like I was always like ‘That Girl’, but I just had to find it. I had to find the confidence to just be me, straight through. When I was in school, I would get bullied a lot for my hair. And, now everybody wants to have locs. Like, it’s a trend. But, back then, it was not like that. People literally would not want to be my friend. I had to find confidence and say, ‘You know what? I got this,’