No one expects KALI UCHIS to march alongside this generation’s new breed of revolutionaries. But little to everyone’s knowledge and even to some of her fans, she’s giving social justice warrior a whole new meaning. “I consider myself as an artistic activist, even the career I chose goes against the will of society,” she boldly states. This genre-defying songstress continues to go against expectations as well for championing her beliefs in what she creates.
What made everyone know Kali Uchis’ name didn’t require any viral gimmick to break the internet. It’s her truth written in her journals made into ear candy tracks that made her prominent. Her music contains what she has to say, what the world is making her feel, and what makes her mind tick behind her L.A. shades. “My music is an open journal and diary of my life and experiences. I write freely and openly about the things that have inspired me, hurt me, happened to me, or fascinated me,” the singer confesses.This raw and vulnerable approach to music got icons like Snoop Dogg, Tyler the Creator, and Gorillaz collaborating with her then stanning her after. But she was never after the luxuries of fame alone.
The desire for growth has been her daily focus on and off the limelight. This goes for herself and the people around her. “I work as much as I can with small consecutive gaps of inner reflection,” she replies when asked about her daily grind. And as for her off days? “I lie in bed and write, or go to quiet places for moments of stillness,” she quips. What comes afterwards? “I enjoy a bit of classic Lil’ Boosie as much as the next girl time to time.”
“My music is an open journal and diary of my life and experiences. I write freely and openly about the things that have inspired me, hurt me, happened to me, or fascinated me.”
Her openness in her craft shows more than her soul. It also shows her roots that plays a huge part on her success as an artist. There’s nothing zen about what she has gone through to get to where she is. Being raised in Columbia and having to deal with instability to avoid the country’s violent turmoils, going head to head with her father because of her angst and being kicked out because of it, and then forging her own path to let her artistry be known afterwards, explains her want and need for growth.
“I was not raised in a family of Hollywood motherf—ckrs, nor was I in miles distance radius of that world. I watched people live in a dream through the TV screen and I know what it’s like to have your teachers or family telling you your whole life that your only chance of survival on earth is working at the supermarket and getting a scholarship to go to school for something you’re totally disinterested in,” she frankly lays out her truth for us.
“I wanted to be like my dad & my brother. My dad is an inspiration. A pure soul with an open heart — an immigrant and a survivor who found a way to make something out of nothing, and will do anything to help others even when he has nothing,” she described how her family inspires her still. “Then growing up, I always just thought my big brother was so f—king cool.”
“I believe self-love and self-preservation is a form of activism.”
Never failing to look back into her past has built the future that serves as her present. Kali Uchis’ roots turned her into a strong-willed songstress that’s not afraid to mold her own form of activism in what she creates. And her manifesto states that any kind of change starts within oneself. “I believe self-love and self-preservation is a form of activism. I believe free thought and removing yourself from group think is an act of political warfare. Some of my writing is abstract. I try to pull the weeds out by their roots — the root is societal brainwash & deep, hidden, self loathing, causing the inclination to be a sheep and to disregard your intuition, true knowing, or desire to become self aware.”
The way she delivers her strong messages differs from the rest. It is not through a violent shout, yet somehow her words are impactful just the same. The power remains within the metaphors of her lyrics. “There are more obvious songs, such as Tyrant, which touches lightly on trying to find love in the current state of turmoil we feel the world is in. I called it a post-apocalyptic love song. There are songs that are more political on my album but they aren’t released yet,” she explains. “I don’t intend to become one type of a writer. I write about whatever passes through my mind,” she shares the artistic direction she wants to take.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to inspire other young people just like the teen me who are lost and are needed of an extra push, to remind them to be brave and to care about things other than being ‘popular’.”
Kali’s way of activism deviates from what we often define it as: loud, violent, and sometimes even hateful. There is no wrong way or right way to fight the big fight. That’s a whole different conversation. But it’s refreshing to see artist like her to redefine a powerful act and make it their own. She aims for the younger generation to learn from what life taught her; to think for themselves, forge their own path, and love themselves in a world filled with hate.
“My platform is so special to me,” she starts. “It’s a dream come true to be able to inspire other young people just like the teen me who are lost and are needed of an extra push, to remind them to be brave and to care about things other than being ‘popular’. The reminder to search for deeper awareness & understanding on earth, to have compassion for every creature, to become the most knowledgeable and articulate on the topics that touch them and to search for their highest power.”
Growing as everything changes around us is the Kali Uchis way on fighting the negative and unbearable political climate that surrounds us. Is it for us to grow stronger or to be more open? That’ll be up to each of us. Either way, as the saying goes, the revolution begins with you. She knows this by heart. Though she had achieved a lot and had grown in her right, she still feel that she has a long way to go. “Growth and expansion happens everyday, I only strive to never be stagnant and to always be honest with myself about where I have more room to grow, so I can work to become a better person. At this point in my life, I still have room to grow all over,” she confesses.
This songstress is more than just a playlist bop in your R’n’B mix. Her songs are the revolution placed in the dance floor or the one heard through the airwaves. Her heart and soul is something to admire and emulate when fighting the big fight, whether it’s behind the computer screen or behind the picket lines. “Speak from the heart but choose your words with placed intention,” she hands this advice as she continues her journey of growth and redefining what it means to be a warrior.
Kali Uchis’ Tyrant is out now. Check her new releases on Spotify , Youtube, and her other social media handles.