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Q&A: Get to know King Khali

Something is bubbling in Texas. Beyonce, Travis Scott, and the late Pimp C are a few names on the state’s overlooked music resume. However, art and creativity are not confined to location. Anyone from anywhere can do anything. With an understanding of this and recognizing his talent, King Khali is destined to put San Antonio, Texas on the map. 

Over the course of a few days I had the opportunity of getting to know Khali via Twitter Direct Messages. Khali and I covered a number of topics. From his determination to complete his degree at Texas Southern University to his experience with rap beef, Khali covers it all with a level head. Get to know King Khali below.

Photo by @fmaclitrato

Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m from Atlanta, moved around a lot growing up. Went to nine elementary schools, three middle schools & four high schools before I came to Texas. Spent majority of my time in Riverdale, GA (Southside) when I got in 5th grade. I’m a senior in college at Texas Southern University, accounting major. I started rapping my sophomore year in college. That’s about it.

What was moving around so much like?
Man that shit was trash. I know a lot of people because of it but I would rather have grown up with a close group of friends over starting over every year basically. I’m bad at names unless I really know you to this because of it too. I used to have a mindset of “Yeah you’re cool and all but I won’t know you by next year”.

Fast forward to now and you’re an accounting major, what led to that?
Honestly, I just wanted to be able to manage money so I wouldn’t have to really struggle anymore. We were homeless and living out of hotels at a point in my life. So I said fuck all that I’ll make sure I never go back to this.

When did music come into play?
I don’t mean to make my life seem so dark but I used to write when I was younger but was too shy to rap. Plus my parents were super Christian so I used to have to sneak to listen to Lil Wayne and stuff. But when my Grandma passed away it was a coping mechanism really. Then I realized people really fuck with me so I started taking it more seriously.

Is there an exact moment you recognize as ‘this is what I want to do’, as far as creating music?
When the fans and supporters hit me up personally saying I’m helping them out in life. That’s all I really care about. Hopefully it can really reach a lot more people one day. We’ll see.

Would you say that’s your goal in your music career, reaching to as many people as possible and knowing you helped them?
That and making a living off music. I don’t even need to touch millions I just want a couple hunnit thousand to help out my people and live comfortably you feel me?

As someone who writes, how important is subject matter to you in your songs?
It means everything to me honestly. I’ve been freestyling more lately but writing wise, I don’t like to be too repetitive.

Photo by @fmaclitrato

Inspiration comes from the strangest places for some people. How do you generate new ideas for music? Is there a process or does it just come to you from some mysterious place?
I’m in the car a lot. Most of my song ideas come from driving around at night. I hate taking road trips with people because I want to freestyle and spit ideas.

Any drives in Texas you regularly take at night that spark those ideas?
Downtown Houston for sure. 3rd ward too. It inspires me to stick to real life topics most of the time. Anytime I drive back to San Antonio too. I made bangers on those three hour drives.

You currently live in Houston?
Yes sir, I go to school here.

Why the back and forth between Houston and San Antonio?
When I moved from Atlanta I moved to San Antonio for my senior year in high school. I made my closest friends there, my girl too. I just like Houston a lot because it reminds me of Atlanta.

What can you say about the Texas music scene? Is your sound influenced from Texas artists or elsewhere?
The Texas music scene is very underrated to me. San Antonio’s in particular. It’s so wide open and that’s why I wanna put that city on in particular. 7th biggest city in the country but gets no shine. But honestly nah, if anything it’s Wayne, Drake, Kendrick & TI. Whole city of Atlanta inspires me in general though. Those are my roots and I feel like that’s why I can stand out here.

Sounds like a love-hate thing with you and San Antonio.
I’m in a rap beef right now so I’m pretty hostile but nah I like it there.

Everyone loves a good rap beef. What’s the story behind this?
Basically man, I was posted on Lyrical Lemonade and this guy that’s falling off in the city tries to get me to beef with him for publicity. I say ‘nah I’m good on that’ and go about my business. Then he starts hating on my homie’s creative ass video and says he’s gonna kill all us rappers. I’m like bet, I’m down for a lil competition. He does nothing so I go on about my business. Then I start getting love off a tweet and he basically says just because I’m getting clout doesn’t mean I’m doing anything in life. I said BET. Boom, now he’s long gone.

So you’re inviting all the smoke in Texas, as it relates to competition?
Nah, I mean everything ain’t always a competition. I support everybody that’s making a name for themselves. But if you tell me you’re gonna kill all us rappers then let’s see what you got because I want to be considered the best at what I do at the end of the day too.

Speaking of competition. I know you’re a basketball fan and since you live in Texas and you’re between both cities often. Spurs or Rockets? And what do you make of the Kawhi – Derozan trade?
Neither because I’m a Laker fan till the death of me. But CP3’s one of my favorite players of all time so I guess Rockets. Even though they took him from us a while back. Kawhi will be a Laker next year so that’s when we’ll for sure be on top. Raptors got finessed.

You must be excited to have Lebron on your favorite team, right?
Hell yeah I am. I’ve been critical of people saying he’s the absolute goat because I think Jordan is still greater personally. But I’d be ignorant to say he’s not the best in the league.

Getting back to music, what song are you most proud of?
“Find A Way”. That was probably my first legit banger in my opinion.

When I hear that song and I run through what we’ve already talked about, it sounds like that song comes from a real place. I know we talked a little about where you find inspiration for songs but where did this one come from? The beat, the lyrics, all of it.
I found this guy on YouTube named 2099 that made some hard beats. I haven’t heard anything from him in a while because he pretty much stopped posting. At the time I was frustrated because everything bad was happening to me at once. I searched and found that beat, wrote to it in like a hour and the rest is history.

 

In 2017 you released 10/10, this year you released Poor Decisions, Good Intentions. How did you grow between these two projects?
What people don’t really know is, 10/10 was just a bunch of songs I had already released on SoundCloud, I just put it in an order where I felt would make a complete album. I dropped it on my Granny’s birthday, 10/10. Which is the reason for the name. A lot of people misinterpret it as 10 out of 10, but that’s a good thing too because I did make it 10 songs for a reason. I feel like I’ve honed my skills more to where I’m comfortable in the booth and can freely express myself. I got that from recording myself for a few months. It really helped me not care about opinions. PDGI is just more of me showing I can be versatile with the flows and such. Other than that I pretty much have the same mindset.

The last song on PDGI is a strong outro with interesting storytelling. You mention getting into some trouble with the law and people who don’t want to see you succeed. Could you speak about some of the things mentioned in that song?Basically my parents were sick and were struggling so I took matters into my own hands and it backfired on me. I’ll never put myself in that situation again.

It seems like that’s your purpose for the music. Taking care of yourself and the ones closest to you.
Absolutely. I wanna own businesses as well. Anything I can to take care of my folks.

What sort of businesses were you thinking about?
Shit, everything. I don’t discriminate. My girl has an organic skin and hair care business called Honeydipped Cosmetics. That inspires me. I major in accounting so I want to have a couple tax offices, things like tire shops, restaurants. All that.

That’s pretty cool that you’re already thinking like that.
Being in business school has just helped me out with my plans. That’s why I don’t care what anyone thinks about me doing school and music. I can do both and have been the past 2 years. I was in college before I started making music and not bragging or anything. But I know a lot of people who haven’t done what I’ve done and they aren’t in school. Everyone’s different.

That’s true. That degree is important and that sense of accomplishing something you set out on a while ago is even more important. Anything in the works as far as music?
I’m planning something big for hopefully December. In the meantime more singles, videos and freestyles on the way!

Can’t wait to hear! Anything else you want to talk about that we didn’t touch on?
Nah I don’t think so. Can I do some shoutouts?

Sure. Go for it.
Aight bet! Shoutout my girl, Tam, I love you boo! Shoutout my manager Soul. My homies Duvin & Marcus, y’all the reason I sound so good. Shoutout to Atlanta, y’all made me what I am today & shoutout San Antonio, the country won’t be sleeping on us much longer!

For future updates on everything King Khali, follow him on Twitter @KhaliTheKing

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