Tech N9ne - Strange Reign Tour 2017
It’s not every day a musical genius is born. With the release of his third solo CD, SHOCK TREATMENT, 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).
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.”
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.
“The whole world doesn’t know who I am,” KRIZZ KALIKO explains, when asked what inspires him. “I need the whole world to party to my pain, party to my story, feel what I’m talking about. I want to be respected for years past my life. I want to be remembered way after I’m gone. I want to be a legend. That’s a lot to live up to. That’s what this album does.”
For Stevie Stone, the release of Rollin’ Stone, his debut album on Strange Music, signals a move beyond his past and his arrival with the premier independent rap company. “The album is all about progression,” he says. “It’s about my shift from Ruthless Records over to Strange Music. Everything about Strange is about getting out and touching the people. Everybody’s in tune with the music and with what I’m doing. I’ve got their undivided attention. They make sure they know and understand their artists.”
Stone backs his words up on the explosive, bass-heavy lead single “808 Bendin’,” which features a remarkable verse from Strange Music honcho, Tech N9ne. The two bonded early on regarding their mutual love for the 808 drum machine that was a signature of many classic rap songs created in the 1980s.
“I’m 808-driven,” Stone says. “I love that pulse, that backbone. Without pulse, there is no life. That’s what Tech is always saying. I heard the beat for ‘808 Bendin’,’ did the verse and the hook. I thought it was something way, way different for Tech.”
Stone keeps the energy at a fever pitch on the confrontational “Raw Talk”, featuring Hopsin and SwizZz, the menacing “Get Buck” and the stark “Keep My Name Out Your Mouth”, featuring Kutt Calhoun.
Elsewhere, Stone showcases his storytelling abilities on the tremendous “Dollar General.” Inspired by the 2007 film, Street Thief, Stone flows with a controlled fury about robbing a series of businesses. WillPower’s somber, piano-driven beat and the whispery chorus, delivered by Yelawolf, create a potent, otherworldly, sonic ambiance. “I put it like it was a dream,” Stone
explains. “I’m not saying that I’m the one that’s robbing. It’s almost like I’m watching the movie and fall asleep. It’s about my dream.”
Music has enabled Stone to live out his dreams and escape his problems. On the soulful “My Remedy,” he details how his problems fade away as soon as he hits the stage. Nonetheless, music has not provided a total escape. The wistful “2 Far” reveals how Stone’s love for music has created tremendous struggle in his relationship with his woman.
Then there’s the dramatic “My Life.” On this emotional cut, Stone details the challenges he’s created for himself and his family by pursuing his music career. Although the emotions were raw, the song took Stone nearly two years to write. “I was wrestling with how much I want to give to the people,” he says. “It’s revealing a lot of stuff. I’m talking about my being away from
my kids, my family and loved ones. I’d been writing it for a year or two because I had the beat for a minute, but I didn’t know how much I really wanted to put out there. I just let go and let the music take me.”
Music has taken Stone on the road. Given his love for touring, it makes Stone a natural fit on Strange Music, as one of the company’s key components is its touring enterprise. Add in Stone’s bond with Tech, his high quality music and his dedication to his craft and it’s no wonder Stone is the latest addition to the Strange Music roster. It’s also why Stone wrote the song “Perfect
“My first show ever, when I was in high school, was with Tech. Eleven years later, it comes full circle,” he says. “I’m on the label. It’s something that I’ve always wanted. I think I’m a perfect fit with them.”
Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Stone has been surrounded by music his entire life. His mother was a singer and choir director who played piano and organ. One of his sisters also sang and played instruments. While his mother favored gospel, blues and the work of Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, his sisters listened to rap and R&B, providing a wide range of sounds, styles and artistic influences.
By the time he was five, music consumed Stone. When a beat would start playing, Stone would be instantly compelled to dance. He later started playing the piano and practicing on the drums.
Stone was simultaneously developing his basketball skills. He received an offer to play basketball at a junior college in Des Moines, Iowa, and was going to pursue the opportunity. A few weeks before he was slated to report to school, Stone landed a performance as an opening act at a concert at the Fulton Fairgrounds. “When I hit that stage, I got the bug,” he recalls. “There was no doubt about it. Music was what I was going to do. I’ve never turned
Within a few years, Stone secured a production deal in St. Louis with Fly Moves Productions, requiring he relocate from Columbia. Stone jumped at the opportunity. “You should never be content with where you’re at,” he says. “I’ve got the shoot-for-the-moon-end-up-in-the-stars type of attitude.”
Stone signed in 2007 with Ruthless Records, the label founded by the late gangster rap pioneer Eazy-E and the recording home of N.W.A. While signed to the imprint, he learned the work ethic needed in order to succeed in the music industry. He realized that an artist has to do as much as possible for themselves and not rely on a label.
So, when Stone parted ways with Ruthless a few years later, he was poised for success. He reconnected with Tech N9ne and Strange Music, which had developed into rap’s biggest independent success story.
Now, with Rollin’ Stone about to arrive in stores, Stevie Stone realizes that his climb to success isn’t over. “After every ladder, there’s another ladder. You’ve got to keep climbing the ladder, keep moving. That’s what I’m doing right now.”