Krizz Kaliko is five-feet nine-inches tall; confidently rocks the vitiligo on his face while ruling the independent music game; proclaims himself to be the “realest dude you’ll ever meet;” embraces the fact that he’s had 40 jobs, and now that the world knows he can rap, and sing, he proudly recognizes his 41st, and possibly, final career move. It may have taken the Kansas City-bred MC a few tries before finding his calling, but this is Krizz’s journey, even if it is a strange one.
Krizz, born Samuel William Christopher Watson IV (Chris for short) didn’t follow the yellow brick road of rap from childhood to adulthood or get molded into some pop star at the hands of music royalty. Instead, Krizz took a less conventional path to hip-hop stardom, and it all started in the church.
Beginning at Kansas City’s St. Stephen’s Baptist Church, Kaliko was at the mercy of music – he just didn’t know it. His mother was the church choir director, and made him sing. “I hated it,” Kaliko tells The Boombox. “I hated it as a kid…I would be in the choir singing as a kid, and she would [say], ‘Christopher, get on your note!’ Out of everybody, she could hear me…[Or], we would be in the car and we’d be singing, and [she] and my sister would be like, ‘Chris, your note is this.’ And I would be like, ‘Uh, I don’t wanna do this,’ but I’m so glad she made me do it.” At the hands of his mother, the now famed rapper went on to [unconsciously] perfect his craft by performing at school talent shows, but he never thought all that singing would become a career.
Now, something like a few years later, Krizz is selling out shows worldwide. In fact, the Strange Music MC sits with sixth studio albums under his belt – his most recent project, Go, dropping just a few weeks back. But unlike his previous LPs, Go marks the former choir member’s first R&B-inspired compilation. Aside from the help of his label mates, Krizz decided to switch things up and offer fans a chance to vibe out to the vocals that turned him onto music in the first place. “I feel like I have to reinvent myself on every project, and that’s what I did on Go,” Krizz says, explaining the reason for an R&B album.
Initially called God’s Order, Kaliko was looking for a way to show fans that he’s “constantly moving forward” and “constantly reinventing” himself. And according to the rapper, the now one-worded album just happened to simultaneously serve as an acronym for the original title. In his word’s, “it was just perfect.” The 16-track album features songs like “BIG FU,” whose title serves as a subliminal message to society and the music industry, and “Talk Up On It,” which tells the story of Krizz’s interactions with women over the years and how his word game goes a long way with the ladies.
But his recent project goes beyond rapping about the most effective way to pick up a woman and how to lyrically give the middle finger to the world. With no particular theme in mind, this weird lyricist just wanted a way to share his journey with his fans. And his journey’s been an interesting one. Chris Watson has seen days as a pre-law student, a cell phone retail employee, a street vendor, and even a weed man. But to get down with a crew like Strange Music and Tech N9ne, you have to be a little unique. In fact, that’s what brought Krizz and Tech together: their individuality on another level.
The two kindred Kansas City spirits met at the house of an old friend.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, over at my [guy’s] house,” Kaliko recalls. “Tech had left to go to LA to get a deal with Quincy Jones, and when things kinda fell through he came back to Kansas City to work with his old producer – “my mentor”… He kinda introduced us, and Tech was like, ‘You’re a marvelous talent, man. I need you with me!’” He was like, ‘What are you? You sing; you sell weed; you sell CDs; you rap. What are you? You’re like the weirdest dude ever!’ And the rest is history. Here we are.”
Proud of the path he’s taken to get to his days as a rapper with a lot to say, Krizz looks at his time with Tech as a blessing. “Here I am…I find this guy and [get] with the No. 1 independent label in the world.” With both sides of his mouth turned, Krizz continues, ‘This is my blessing. This is my journey. It was meant for me to go through [my] journey and have something to talk about.”
With Krizz’s current catalog, it’s clear baller cliches weren’t the only thing his gift of gab was good for. “I can’t just talk about women and dope and money and cars. That’s not me. I got so much more to say, so thank God I have this outlet – this musical outlet – so I can say it.” So for anyone who questioned whether hip-hop with substance still existed, here’s your proof. And it’s not that strange!