“Life is like sex, sometimes you have to change your position. This album is dedicated to the people who feel trapped in their position, in hopes that the music will enable you to change it”.
Born in Columbia and raised in Virginia, R&B singer Kali Uchis is a unique self-made pop star. From the heavy eyeliner to the vintage outfits, Kali exceptionally reflects her style in her music as luxurious. Her nostalgic sound blends decades and styles. She has gained co-signs from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Tyler, The Creator.
She took her first stab at pop-stardom on ‘Por Vida EP’, a 9-track collective produced by Diplo, Kaytranada, and Tyler, The Creator. While ‘Por Vida EP’ was critically applauded and gifted listeners a “cotton-candy” sweet first impression of her, it wasn’t enough to give Kali the spotlight and opportunity to disclose her pure identity.
When Kali dropped the first single off her new album “Tyrant”, featuring Jorja Smith on May 22nd, she made her presence known in Summer 2017 of what to expect in her big debut. The second single “After The Storm” featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins put ‘Isolation’ on a higher pedestal with the track’s sensual and funky tunes along with earthly visuals.
Kali Uchis’ ‘Isolation’ says it all—distancing yourself from the world in order to learn more about yourself. Arriving three years after ‘Por Vida EP’, ‘Isolation’ is long worth the wait as Kali invites you deeper into her world of paradise and vulnerability through 15 tracks composed of several genres and vibes.
The intro “Body Language” enwraps you in smooth euphoria. Produced by the eclectic Thundercat, the song is a vibrant intro that teases you and coaxes you along for the ride that Kali will take you throughout the album. The intro also serves as the audience’s mindset of getting to know Kali and vice versa.
The second track of ‘Isolation’, “Miami” smoothly leads you into the ride with it’s 70’s vibe sound. Both Kali and rapper BIA rap and sing about making a living for themselves in Miami, notorious for its drug wars. The song makes a set statement of female empowerment and independence; women can ‘move in the speed of light’ and ‘blow up the spot like dynamite’ without being submissive to anyone.
Other songs like “Tyrant” and “Dead To Me” revolves around that same theme, as Kali stresses the need for women to place themselves in the upper echelon and never “come down” for anyone. “Tyrant” can be described as a post-apocalyptic love song where the woman wants to be in love but doesn’t want to face the power struggles that come with it.
One profound theme in ‘Isolation’ is Kali telling the listeners her identity and what she stands for in third-person. This is evident in “Just A Stranger” featuring Steve Lacy, as the hook speaks on a gold-digger:
“She wants my hundred dollar bills, she don’t want love.”
However, Kali sets to break that stereotype and paint the portrait of a powerful and carefree woman, describing herself as someone who’s not going to take any crap from anyone:
“She’s a hurricane, feel the earth shake / If the devil was asleep, she’d knock him wide awake / And if you were her, you’d never know / I think you’d do it too / But if it takes one to know one, you must not have a clue.”
In the same way, in “Your Teeth In My Neck” Kali sings about people who appropriate her art and vision. She even questions herself on if she should continuing pursuing music:
“What do you do it for? / Rich man keeps getting richer, taking from the poor.”
Towards the middle and ending songs, Kali experiments with Funk, Reggaeton, and Pop beats, as she is still exploring herself and digging into her roots.
“In My Dreams” has an up-tempo, neon beat produced by Damon Albarn, who is apart of the Gorillaz. On this track, Kali asserts her desire for a blissful life away from the prostitution, drugs, and violence she experienced living in Columbia.
It’s admirable when an artist opens up to their audience about their upbringing, and embraces their culture. Kali does just that in ‘Isolation’, that she’s not ashamed of her Columbian roots, as that made her who she is today. “Nuestro Planeta” is the song that beautifully represents that. Is it the song that is sonically different from any other song on the album, approaching a more tropical-reggaeton song that matches perfectly with Reykon, who is a Columbian Reggaeton singer.
“After The Storm” featuring Tyler, The Creator, and the legendary Bposty Collins is a song that screams funkadelic; its smooth and sultry sound will lead you into ecstasy. In “After The Storm”, Kali reveals the potential of pure autonomy:
“So if you need a hero (if you need a hero) / Just look in the mirror (just look in the mirror)/No one’s gonna save you now / So you better save yourself.”
The last track of ‘Isolation’, “Killer” brings the album into a satisfying close, as Kali show a flaw with her bulletproof armor: that is was wounded by an unfaithful lover. This song is the highlight of her vulnerability; she went through a difficult time in her life and has found the strength to overcome.
In many ways, ‘Isolation’ is the kind of album an artist makes just for himself or herself; however, it perpetuates personal, yet universally relatable emotions and perspectives. The versatility of ‘Isolation’ solidifies Kali’s reputation as a well-rounded, multi-talented artist. While every song is different, they somehow come together to create a flawed canvas of Kali Uchis. this album is a solid “A” and fits right along the fascinating new era of R&B music. Listen to ‘Isolation’ by any means necessary, because is worth every second of your time, and Kali is the artist to watch.