Say you want to listen to something else besides Beyonce, Cardi, Drake and the others who are leading the music game right now; however, you also want to listen to someone you’ve probably heard before, unknowingly, but you didn’t recognize that they were on the song. One of these artists, who is on the rise right now, is Kali Uchis. Uchis had some collaborations over the past few years with such artists like Tyler the Creator, Daniel Ceasar, and Miguel. She’s known for her smooth, silky vocals that sound almost child-like and her ability to switch from English to Spanish in a heartbeat to display pride of her Colombian-American heritage.
She truly shines through her solo efforts, the most prominent being her album “Isolation”, which came out last year. It explores the subjects of heartbreak, loneliness, self-discovery, and the ability to self-identify as a hero. I will forever be baffled by the fact that “Isolation” wasn’t discussed more on the award show circuit, which makes me believe that award shows are a sham.
“Dead to Me” almost feels like you’re floating in space. As you can guess from its title, “Dead to Me” is a song about not acknowledging people after an altercation, which is a situation most of us are far too familiar with whether it’s a bone to pick with a two-faced friend or even a judgy family member. Kali captures these emotions perfectly through absolute savagery through lyrics like “What did you say to you? I can’t hear a thing” and “See, you think you have problems with me? But baby I don’t even think about you.”
Uchis can’t even give this person the title of a friend or an enemy, which ultimately devalues that person’s presence within her life. This makes us question, “who wronged you, Kali?” Needless to say, it’s a great song to blast with the car windows down in the city at night, especially when you’re trying to eliminate all forms of negativity from your life.
“Tomorrow” is a song is set as my wake-up alarm. It’s a collaboration with Kevin Parker, Tame Impala, so you know it’s going to sound trippy. At first, I thought this song was about a family having to “sell” their kids on the streets in order to make money. This is hinted by the lyric “Daddy said he needed money, so he put her on the street.” However, its message is much more than that and interpretative with whoever you act. What Kali is trying to say is that whatever situation you’re in, keep your dreams near and dear to you.
It’s a matter of putting it into reality for yourself because sometimes you don’t have the support backing you up. The outro is pretty cool as well because Uchis decides to speak entirely in Spanish. The last lyrics, translated into English, are “We will burn together.”
The overall structure of “Just a Stranger” is simplistic as it follows an alternation of two, distorted sound notes that makes the song sound hazy like you’re at a party or something. The fact that they’re then layered with duets of Uchis and Steve Lacy (from the band, The Internet) a loud drumkit and bright visuals in the music video makes the song chaotically pleasing. The subject matter of “Just a Stranger” is pretty straightforward as it’s about a golddigger, which is established by the constant repetition of “She wants my hundred dollar bills/she don’t want love.” Though you usually associate golddiggers with the negative, it almost seems as if Uchis is glorifying this bold character. It’s a matter of letting a woman do whatever she wants.
“After the Storm” is probably one of her most well-known songs, which is about self-empowerment and finding substances in one’s life. The silkiness of Uchis’ voice flows perfectly with the funkadelic sounding music, and Tyler the Creator’s and Bootsy Collins’s features are brief and they’re drastically different artists, they add onto the overall groove of the song. My heart skips a beat every time I hear the chorus. When Uchis sings, The sun’ll come out/nothing good ever comes so easy,” it’s a reminder that not everything is going to go your way 100% of the time and it’s just a matter of working around those hiccups.
I also love the key change, which occurs towards the end of the song, and the repetition of the lyrics “all you have to do is try.” Honestly, this song should’ve ended the album instead of “Killer,” which is a song about a broken heart. I’m all for things being left on a positive note in music and the artistic decision to make “After the Storm” be the album’s conclusion would’ve accomplished this.