Introducing Calid B., Chicago’s Newest Artist

Introducing Calid B., Fresh New Chicago Artist 

Chicago-based, Ohio-born artist Calid B. is slowly gearing up to take over with a unique sound on his newest project, AfroBang!, dropping on Friday, July 15th.  As an accomplished producer and emcee, Calid spent years behind the scenes making his mark on the music industry before beginning to work on his own project as an artist. Though you can find out a lot from his website, I wanted to speak to Calid himself to find out his motivations, inspirations, and visions for the future of his music.

 

I’ve read your info tab on your website, which anyone can get to, but how would you describe yourself to an audience in your own words?

That’s a good question.  I would introduce myself as a creative producer, emcee, and just a creative enthusiast all around.  I support artists in every field of what they do, and so AfroBang! is kind of an extension of that.  I know this music project kind of appears to be a solo project from the first impression, but my goal is kind of to take the AfroBang! concept and platform and broaden it out to a platform that supports artists with a similar vision.  You know, trying to incorporate Afrocentric values in their art in any way.  That’s kind of the long answer, I know [laughs], but yeah. I would introduce myself as a supporter of creativity through Afrocentric culture and values.

 

When did you become interested in music and decide that’s what you want to do?

Well, I started out kind of dabbling in it when I was in college, which was a long time ago [laughs].  Yeah, I used to produce for, you know, my roommate and people in my dorm would come though.  My room was kind of like the go-to music hub on campus, a lot of the athletes would come through and kind of mess around so it was kind of a fun thing in the beginning.  Then after college, when I started taking it more seriously, I was actually in a rock band, kind of an alternative rock band for a few years.  We were kind of like Gym Class Heroes, comparable to those guys, but that ended up falling through.  Then I started to do my own thing, started a production company, selling beats and managing artist and I did that for a few years.  I was really trying to be an executive in the music business, so that led me to go to grad school at Columbia College Chicago.  I was really trying to get my foot in the door as an executive, and that kind of led me to working in the advertising industry, working with brands and artists and doing campaigns for different artists.  I was really behind the scenes in the music business, but you know, I’ve always had a passion for producing and creating and that’s never left me.  So after I kind of took a step back and shut down my production company and started doing music for the love of it again, that’s when the AfroBang! concept came to me and I started producing music that was a little more original to myself and my story, kind of bringing that Afrocentric element to the music as well.

 

Who would you say is your primary target audience for the AfroBang! project and for your music in general?

I would say the message is definitely for, you know, black kids across the world, really.  AfroBang! speaks to bridging the gap between Africa, African values, and the hip-hop culture here in America and across all the western countries and kind of trying to bring those cultures together.  I feel like now more than ever is the time to kind of reconnect with our Afrocentric values and unite, and really take pride in that.  I guess one of my pet peeves is when black people don’t really identify with Africa and Africans don’t identify with black people in America.  So, I definitely want to address that topic in my music and explore why that is, and I think music is a great tool to bring people together.  So my audience, hopefully, will be global and mostly the youth.

calid b.

from Instagram

I have listened to some of your music, namely the songs “SummertimeCHI“, Parasites” and Gold“.  I really like them and I was wondering while listening, who would you say are some of your biggest influences musically? 

Definitely Andre 3000, Mos Def, Kid Cudi, for sure, Kanye, and Common.  Those are probably the biggest ones.  I’m also influenced by a lot of the new cats, too, like Chance, a lot of the local cats in Chicago, you know.  I’ve seen them come up from doing local shows here in Chicago to traveling the world.  So like, you know, SaveMoney and them, Vic Mensa and all.  Even some of the drill music I like, you know, you have to kind of understand where they’re coming from with it, so I respect that music as well.  Kendrick, obviously a huge influence, and Drake.  I’m real good friends with Jidenna, and we’ve worked on stuff in the past so hopefully we’ll work more in the future.  But yeah, my influence is all over the place.  Not even just hip-hop, you know, but like Bob Marley, and really people who were able to bring people together with their music.

 

You mentioned watching people come up in Chicago, I was wondering how long have you been in Chicago? Also, I know even personally that coming up as an artist in Chicago is difficult because the market seems so saturated, and it has a lot to do with who you know. What are some obstacles you may have faced trying to put yourself out there and creating your own visibility and what would your advice be to artists in the same place?

That’s a good question.  So I’ve been in Chicago for about 7 years now.  I started off managing artists, one notable one might be BrandUn Deshay, I helped him kind of launch his career.  As far as my own stuff for AfroBang!, what I’ve noticed kind of helped me break through is collaboration.  Not being afraid to reach out to artists who you know might have a bigger following than you or might have no following and vibing with them and really just getting in the studio and seeing what happens.  I feel like that’s the best way to kind of break through in Chicago, once you get support from them and other artists in the city it kind of becomes a snowball effect and people start hearing your name and seeing it on social media and you start to get some recognition.  That’s why artists in Atlanta are blowing up so fast because everybody is working with everybody and it’s not so cliquish.  Like, you’re dope, I’m dope, so let’s work together.  I definitely want to shout out Party Noire, they’ve been a huge supporter of mine.  They’re like a three-woman collective here in Chicago and they curate parties around the city and they’re actually on the song “Gold”.  Even though they’ve never rapped before it was just like, “yo, y’all are dope, you got the swag so let’s see what happens” and it ended coming out really cool.  And Sam Trump is another artist, he was down to collab and so he’s on the album.  Working with a lot of my friends helps too, they keep me supported and motivated, and encourage me to keep going and help get the word out.  So yeah, you don’t wanna force it and make it seem inauthentic, but collaboration is definitely a major key.

 

How do you see your music tying in with the present state of our country’s race relations, and where do you hope to take the direction of your music?

Well, I hope my music can be a unifier for the black community and provide some sense of joy and hope, and a new understanding of our history and our heritage.  They don’t really teach us about our Afrocentric upbringing in the schools here, you know, our history starts at slavery and that’s, like, a terrible place to start.  So we’re already mentally behind as far as our sense of ourselves, when we talk about black Americans and Africans and I think that’s where the disconnect happens.  So really I hope to use the music to kind of tell stories from Africa and our heritage.  As far as where I want to take the music moving forward, I really want to get deeper into using more African samples and instruments and sounds and chants.  All types of tribal music and influences, pairing them with horns and hard drums and snares, hi-hats, and kind of really catching people off guard and hitting them with the message.  I want to just tell those stories in a cool way. It’s kind of like a research project for me too, because I’m still learning about myself as far as my heritage, so it’s fun for me.  I just want to get deeper into it and keep collaborating with people, hopefully collaborate with some artists from overseas and keep spreading the vibe.

 

That concluded my interview questions, but Calid and I went on to talk about the struggles and remedies of being an artist, and how to stay motivated and inspired in daily life.  All in all, Calid B. was enlightening to speak with and we look forward to what his music will bring to Chicago, and, hopefully, the world.

You can also catch him performing live this weekend, Saturday July 15th, alongside many of Chicago’s favorite djays and artists at the Silver Room Sound System Block Party!

Follow Calid B. on Instragam, Twitter, and Soundcloud!

 

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