It’s not every day a musical genius is born. With the release of his second solo CD, GENIUS, KRIZZ KALIKO convincingly claims that title. After working with Tech N9ne and Strange Music for 10 years, performing over 200 shows a year, KRIZZ KALIKO has earned a spot among Hip Hop’s elite. His solo debut, 2008’s Vitiligo, landed at No. 19 on the Billboard charts and he has been instrumental in Tech N9ne’s incredible success: In 2008, Tech N9ne SoundScanned over one million units, making him the most successful independent Hip Hop artist in history.
KRIZZ KALIKO is the sonic “glue” of Strange Music. “I’m Tech’s right hand man in writing,” he says. “It’s a weird, beautiful chemistry. Tech and Travis [O’Guin] handle the business, and Tech and I are the creative force at Strange Music. The yin and the yang. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Tech and I have the same philosophy about the quality of music. We’ve been working together so long I know where he wants to go.”
Born in Kansas City, MO., KRIZZ KALIKO was raised by a mom who spoon-fed him music. As an opera and gospel singer, as well as being the choir director of their church, his mother sang to him and, fortunately, made him sing with his sisters. He performed in the choir all throughout his early teens and his mom often treated the family to live concerts from artists like the Gap Band and Run-DMC. By the time KRIZZ KALIKO met Tech N9ne, he was already trying to figure out how to fuse opera and Hip Hop.
“Tech’s music is dark,” KRIZZ KALIKO explains. “It was the perfect vehicle.” When Tech N9ne landed back home in Kansas City after touring and found his longtime producer Icy Roc working with a new talented voice, Tech was intrigued. He liked what he heard and hired KRIZZ KALIKO to work with him on “Who You Came To See”, from his Anghellic album (2001). Tech was so impressed by KRIZZ KALIKO’s ability to craft catchy, album-ready songs, he asked him to collaborate on his next project, Absolute Power (2002).
Powered by a fusion of funk, rap, rock, R&B and opera – a self-made style KRIZZ KALIKO calls “Funkra” – GENIUS covers the entire spectrum of genres, from the slow and seductive “Get Off” with Tech N9ne and the rock-flavored “The Chemical” to the street anthem “Back Pack” and the album’s crossover single, “Misunderstood.” KRIZZ KALIKO pulls from a wide variety of artists he enjoys listening to, from Billy Joel and Elton John to Prince, Cee-Lo and Soulja Boy, and in doing so, he has made an album that defies categorization. Along for the aurally eclectic rollercoaster ride that is GENIUS are Tech N9ne, E-40, Kutt Calhoun and Big Scoob.
As most fans already know, KRIZZ KALIKO offers a unique perspective on life that many can relate to. The husband and father of one was born with a skin disorder called Vitiligo, which he not only discusses openly in his music, but also used as the title of his debut CD. “I want people to get that people who look differently can actually be the coolest dudes,” he relays. “To come from being a freak to this dude that I am here is a wonderful and interesting story and makes you want to listen to the music even more.”
One of the GENIUS’s most poignant tracks sheds light on another of KRIZZ KALIKO’s conditions: “‘Bipolar’ talks about my experiences as a little kid, how I came to have anxiety problems and diagnosed as bipolar,” he explains. “Everybody I know that’s extremely talented or smart is a little bit crazy. I embrace that because without that I wouldn’t be as creative. I write songs about it and lots of fans identify with it.”
It’s important to KRIZZ KALIKO that his lyrics are not all about hardship and pain. “I want people to be excited by me, come into my world,” he adds. “I want you to have a good time when you’re around me. You gotta want people to want to be around you, want to listen to your music, want to be interested in you.” Judging by his scores of fans, KRIZZ KALIKO’s extensive grassroots efforts and inclusive musical philosophies are working.