Emerging musician Kali Uchis has gained co-signs from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Tyler, The Creator, but the singer/songwriter has perfected her craft all on her own. Speaking with Fader for their final rollout of “The Diaspora Issue,” the Colombian -American candidly speaks about Latinx life, colorism and her journey in music.
Those savvy to R&B’s heavy existence in the Soundcloud world have rooted for the 20-something for some time. After the release of her LP, Drunken Babble in 2013, the singer gained a strong following due to her vulnerable lyrics and ability to merge retro and soulful looks. Now with her Jorja Smith-assisted single “Tyrant” exposing her to the masses, Kali (born Karly Loaiza) recalls the times when life wasn’t so sweet.
At 17, the singer shared, she was kicked out of her home in Virginia in the form of hand-written note from her father. “The letter was like some ‘I’m disowning you’ type sh*t, some ‘You’re a shame to the family’ type sh*t,’” she said. While they were able to mend their relationship, the space in between was filled with days of the musician living in her car and taking gigs as a cashier. She says while trying to shape herself as an artist, her family back in Columbia weren’t as supportive, assuming she took on a gig as an escort.
“I was hurt, because the same people who started the rumor, when they see me to my face, it’s all love,” she said. “But I try not to take that sh*t personally. I get it. Sometimes families are like that, or people back home are like that. I would feel some type of way too, if I was still punching in at the grocery store, working crazy hours, all night, you know.” Things seemed to get better once they peeped her recent collaboration with Juanes, “El Ratico.” “All of the sudden they’re like, ‘Mija, we’re so proud of you! You know you’ve been our baby forever!’” she added.
The singer also opened up about colorism and narratives around her life as a Latinx. “I’ve always considered myself a person of color,” she said. The singer has faced criticism over her changing looks, and alleged privilege for her lighter tone. “I’m Colombian, my family all have different complexions, some are people of color,” she said. “I’ve been called every name by white people, been mocked for speaking in Spanish by white people.”
While she’s not a fan of labels, the “Loner” singer explained how she’s a lover of human rights. “I just believe in standing up for people, and against discrimination. I consider myself an advocate for human rights. And for doing the right thing.”
Check out the full interview here.