Getting into the mind, music and art of King Callis
So we recently chopped it up with the young North Carolina based MC, King Callis. The 23 year old stood out to us because he is relentlessly championing a style of Hip Hop music that is unpopular in the times that we live in. We got to find more about him. Peep the conversation below.
First things first, we would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation for hitting us up after reaching out to you. We would like to know about you, please let us in on who King Callis is and where you’re from.
King Callis: Peace, King callis is just a regular everyday Black man in America, trying to stay alive provide for my family and express my life in my art. I’m originally from Akron, Ohio now I’m residing in Charlotte North Carolina.
The places that we are from often have an evident effect on our world view, perspective and if you’re a creative, they have an effect on your creativity. How has your upbringing shaped you and how do take what you were brought up on and express it in your musical work?
King Callis: I grew up in a lower class society majority of my time in Akron we lived in the projects, living in the projects made me the person who I am today I experienced everything early that most people don’t see until their 20’s. So when I make my music everything is a reflection of the environment I grew up in so I try to give that feeling to the listeners who never been to where I’m from.
You seem very connected to your African ancestry and this is evident in some of your lyrics and we see some glimpses of African symbolism in some of your videos, notably “Me dopawaa” where you’re wearing an ankh. Can you tell us why you think it is important to champion one’s identity and ancestry?
King Callis: I feel it’s important for me to include my African ancestry in everything I do because we’ve been cut from our roots we barley know who we are as African Americans. So my whole objective is to return back to Africa pretty soon and my agenda is to push that same idea of returning to my supporters.
The world has its eyes on America, especially the recent violence against black bodies all over the States and the presidential elections. What stands out for us, particularly in South Africa, is how black American artists are using their art and music to voice out their opinions and frustrations. What’s your take on using music to be a mouthpiece for social change and awakening the masses about some of the issues that we face?
King Callis: Well with the hip hop culture that’s why it was started for us to express ourselves for everything we’ve been going through. I feel if you’re gonna get on the mic say something that has a purpose, plant the seed that can be the change for tomorrow. So for me my whole objective with my music is to inform and reform.
Let’s get into some of your work. We know that your last project, Brunch, was released last year in March and also featured on the scratchtheblock blog. Can you tell us about that project and what inspired its creation?
Is there any follow up project that people that support your work can look out for?
King Callis: Yes my follow up project for brunch is titled SELF LOVE + MELANIN and the concept is just exactly what the title says it’s gonna be a two side album the first side is all about embracing and loving thy self and the second side is more of a celebration among blacks for having melanin.
One of your recent song releases on Soundcloud caught our eye and sort of hit home. The song in particular is “Bambani abathakathi” which, in Zulu, translates to catch the witches/evil doers, can you tell us more about that song and the motivations behind it?
King Callis: When I made the record I made it with the mindset that I wanted to make a new song to put a silence to all the ignorant violence promoting artist that’s out so that title bambani abathakathi fit perfectly and it also was a chance for me to including African culture into my art.
On most of your profiles and bios online, you mention that your style mirrors Slum Village and Common, who are some of your other influences?
King Callis: Fela Kuti, No Name, Zev Love X, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, Solange Knowles, Brand Nubians.
What can people expect from a King Callis project?
King Callis: When it comes to my music you can expect a lot of pride in being black, ancient kemet knowledge and unconditional love.
How are you embracing the digital age and the shift from analogue to digital is quite evident and the fact that we were able to connect online is testament to the power of technology. Do you think that the digital age is bringing in more good or bad change? What’s your take?
King Callis: I’m not that into the digital age I still like to burn my music on CDs and give them out, a lot of people don’t even listen to CDs anymore just Spotify, iTunes and etc. Besides the fact that I can reach out to people over the world for music reasons I’m not into the digital switch I still value face to face contacts.
How important is collaboration, particularly in the underground and indie Hip Hop scene? Keeping in mind the fact that in most cases the artists find themselves having to counter what the mainstream media pushes out?
King Callis: I think collaborations are important especially if you’re trying to get your name out in a different country or state, I made a song with this guy in Tokyo and now I have a few Japanese fans and producers who send me beats so yeah I feel it’s very important to collab with the right people.
Given a chance to perform in Africa, which country or city would you like to perform at?
King Callis: It would be between Ghana, Cape Town or Soweto that’s where I would like to visit and perform the most.
In closing, we would like to thank you for your time and getting to know you. Are there words that you have for people that support your work or the people that are going to be introduced to your artistry and music in the near future? Where can people find your music and where can they follow you on social media?
King Callis: I would like to peace & light to all my supporters who’ve been following me on my journey I know sometimes we may seem off track but keep your faith in Yahweh and stay positive and find true knowledge of self. You can find all my music and social media on Kingcallis.com