Rise & Grind is a brand new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.
Los Angeles has a hub of inspiration for music relating to the struggle, but there’s always been a balance highlighting the beauty of California. Women, weed, and weather, as Dr. Dre said on Kendrick Lamar’s “The Recipe.” Kalan.FrFr is highlighting all those aspects. The melodies he brings speak to love and heartbreak while the guttural side of his artistry can easily soundtrack a good time.
The rapper is riding high off of the release of Two.Fr 2— the official follow-up to his 2018 predecessor. It was a concerted choice that came after joking with the idea of using Hoochie Hotline as the title of his next project. While some of the songs did end up making it on to Two.Fr2, the Roc Nation-signed artist explained that it felt like the right time to double back to the project that established his name.
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“I’m more mature now. I’m more mature as an artist,” he says. “It was just time. I had to go with what I knew. I can’t explain the feeling, but I had the feeling again. It felt like TwoFr, so it was time to go in.”
With songs like “Never Lose You” having a grip on summer 2021, the future is looking quite promising for Kalan.FrFr. The rapper is hitting the road this fall for the Two Fr tour alongside Haiti Babi, Kyle Banks, and Jehkai. We chopped it up with Kalan.FrFr for the latest installment in Rise & Grind about his latest project, his love for Kanye West, and more.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
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I’m from Carson, California and Compton. I grew up in both. My mom stayed in Carson, and my dad stayed in Compton, so I was always hella back and forth. But now I’m from all over. I represent all of LA, from the East Side to the West. I lived in all these places, and I got so much family. I’m a real LA native, all the way around. 100%.
It’s not really all that different [growing up between Compton and Carson] because pretty much everybody in all of these communities know each other. My cousins would be over there, I would go down, and they’d come over here, come hang out with me. Then, by the time we all started playing sports and going to junior high school and high school, everybody knew each other.
I’m an Aries. I’ve been told that I’m every bit an Aries. Everything that they got to say about it, I’m a lot of. I ain’t a liar, though. I’m one of the cooler Aries. I be hearing a lot of Aries are liars. I don’t be lying. There ain’t no need to lie. I got past that, whatever that stage was.
I’m loud as hell. You can’t stop me from being loud. I’mma always feel offended. I always think somebody’s trying to offend me, 100%. I’m hella sensitive, but I’ll never show it. I got way too much pride. I got pride out the window. I’m pretty much all of that, if I had to describe myself real quick.
Top 5 DOA:
It’s not in no order, but Biggie, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and… I’m not gonna lie and it’s early to be saying bro, but Brent Faiyaz is one of my favorite artists right now. I feel like people would have listened to him in the 80s and 90s. No matter where you threw him, I feel like his music would’ve worked. Good music don’t fade, so I’ll give him that. And then I’m putting myself in there. I don’t be giving myself enough credit. I really like my own music, so I’m gonna throw myself in there.
[If I couldn’t include myself, it would be] my favorite, Stevie Wonder— or Michael Jackson, of course. I don’t really count Michael Jackson because to me, that’s the greatest of all time. He don’t even get compared to nobody. So Michael Jackson out the gate, but I put Stevie Wonder in there. He’s another one of them dudes. I ain’t even gonna use Stevie Wonder because I look at Stevie Wonder too high. Top five dead or alive, at the end, for five is Kanye, like Late Registration Kanye. That was my favorite Ye.
As I got older, I just started to realize that Biggie makes great songs. From the samples to what he’s talking about, to how he’s flowing. He’s a picture painter. That sh*t is dope. I admire that. Jay— it’s Jay, bro. [Laughs] C’mon, man. Wayne’s hard. Wayne does so much. I feel like you could put Wayne on any type of beat, and he would never get boxed in. He can make a song that’ll be a hit for him. All the mixtape shit he did was amazing. Brent— like I was saying, just throw him anywhere. It’s gonna work.
Ye was my favorite. It kind of took a turn for me when the music started changing, like “808s & Heartbreaks” and sh*t like that, but I always respected it. It was always a different type of music. I love it because it’s Ye, but I’m a product of my environment. I need to hear what I’m going through. That was what I was looking for: sh*t that I can relate to. So, it took a turn for me. I stopped listening to him as much. I always give him a listen. You couldn’t stop me from listening to Kanye West. I used to try to dress like Kanye West. Kanye is the best ever, n****— producer and rapper. All them albums was just him being himself and pouring his emotions into the music, but it’s still uplifting. It’s hard for people to do that. I strive to do that. I strive to still make you smile, no matter what I’m saying. I strive to make you feel emotions. I want this song to make you feel good. I want this song to make you feel sad. I want this song to make you think. Even if he wasn’t doing it on purpose, that’s what I got from his music. That’s the impact it had on me. Ye is one of the greatest to ever do it, all-time.
It’s probably gonna sound crazy, but just being able to make money. I’ve been doing music for so long for nothing— not for nothing, but just to be able to do this. Being able to make money is beautiful. So many people — it’s these people’s passion. They put so much into it — so much time, so much effort, so much money — and they don’t receive anything out of this. I feel hella blessed that this is all I have to do: to make music. Right now, I’m fortunate enough to take care of myself. I take care of other people. That’s the blessing within it all. This is my job at the end of the day. My job is to be myself as much as I can. I can’t trade that for the world. Ain’t nobody get to go to work as happy as me. I promise you. This sh*t is happy. Even when I’m mad, I’m happy, because I’m mad about asking for more. That’s usually what I’m mad about. I’m already doing well. I’m cool. Aye man, it was this or UPS. [Laughs]
Studio Habits & Essentials:
I’m gonna say, “Do y’all f*ck with that?” like 1000 times. That’s weird. It gets to the point where homies be like, “Bro, don’t ask us nothing. Just keep recording. Don’t say nothing. Yes, we f*ck with it. Everybody in here nodding their head. You don’t got to ask us, ‘Do we f*ck with it?’” And then sometimes, I’ll make the engineer put the headphones on so can’t nobody hear it. They get mad when I do that.
And 3 things I need in the studio… weed. That’s the first one. Definitely don’t want to be in the studio and not be high. I don’t got to get high to make music, but I would rather be high. That’s cool for me. I get a lot done. If it’s a late session, I need my blanket so I can curl up and listen to the music after it’s done. And snacks. The snacks gotta be superior. If we send you to go get snacks, and you come back and strike out, we probably won’t even smoke with you. That snack sh*t is serious. You gotta have the right snacks. The last time we went to ‘yo, we didn’t even have the right snacks. My cousin ordered some Wingstop and got naked chicken. I ain’t never seen no chicken with no seasoning— just plain chicken! That n**** crazy.
[The worst snack run] I think we was in the studio in Atlanta, and n**** brought back some sunflower seeds or something like that. I’m like, “Bro, what the f*ck?” [Laughs] Some almonds or something. That’s wasn’t it, bro. You didn’t get the right sh*t.
From what everybody say, it’s going good. And there’s always room for improvement. Honestly, I love it. I love the response I’m getting. I’m getting booked for shows, people really listening to the music, my streams going up every week. I’m extremely appreciative, and I’m appreciative that so many people rock with the music, but I’m just excited to do it again. I have so much more music. I’m working so hard. I work so much. I just want to show everybody what I got, and hopefully, just get bigger and bigger every time.
With the “Hoochie Hotline”, it was gonna be a quick EP, and it was gonna be more songs catered towards women. We swapped a lot of the songs out. We added a bunch of songs. It was really a feeling. It was more, “Man, it’s time for TwoFr 2.” I was having that feeling that I had when I dropped “TwoFr,” and that was the tape that took off, that started my music stuff, with “Right Wit It”, and “Finance”, and “Naked”. That’s what started up my name, started making me a household name, actually putting some rank on it. So just doubling back around— this time, bigger platform, bigger music, everything’s growing. I’m more mature now. I’m more mature as an artist. I’ve learned so much more out of being in so many situations, met people. It was just time. I had to go with what I knew. I can’t explain the feeling, but I had the feeling again. It felt like “TwoFr,” so it was time to go in.
With Blue Bucks, them the homies. We have been recording. We have been supposed to get in the studio, been recording. Even if we don’t record, we still pull up on each other. I was just like, “Bro, I got one. I’m finna put this sh*t on my tape.” Them n***** pulled up on me and knocked it out. With the song with Durk, that wasn’t the original song I wanted to put Durk on. I’m blessed because I have so many other good people around me, so many people that are interested in music and have a music background. They were like, “Nah, maybe you should put him on ‘I Like.’” That was all them. That didn’t even have nothing to do with me. So we sent bro the song, bro got on there, worked it in. But me and Durk have already had music together. I f*ck with them OTF n***** heavy. We got locked in. It was cool. I be running into Durk everyday at the studio, so it ain’t nothing to get stuff done with them. Bro was f*cking with the record, too. It was dope.
It probably was something stupid, something weak. I remember I used to try to rap when I was really little, and it was horrible. [Laughs] It just wasn’t it. But it was probably something about 24-inch rims. My cousin had 24-inch rims on his Denali. So it probably was that. He used to take me to school in the morning sometimes. I used to feel cool as hell getting out. He had the XL Denali, the big, long ass one, so it was probably something about that. But it was sorry, whatever it was. [Laughs]
My first time ever recording was in the garage. My cousin and his homies made music for fun. He played in the league, but he used to make music. My cousin Kenan. He’d be making music with his friends. I had to be like 10, and I was like, “Let me make a song.” He was like, “Alright, you gotta do everything yourself,” so he made me make the beat, made me make the song. I did everything. I made the beat on Reason, and I recorded the song on Pro Tools. I did it with an MPC. Sh*t, that’s when I fell in love.
He was walking me through [ProTools and Reason] but he made me do it myself. He was like, “I’m not finna do it for you. Drag that there.” I had rhythm and sh*t like that. I had a feel for what I was doing. I knew what I wanted to do. That’s when I was into Kanye West like heavy. I was up on what was going on. I was probably in sixth grade when that sh*t happened.
My garage was my studio until “TwoFr.” I did “TwoFr” in my garage. I did half of it in Atlanta, and I did the other half right here in my garage. I remember doing a song with Slimmy B. All my homies was in the garage. That was my first time doing a feature with somebody that was bigger than me. Somebody I didn’t know. I had done sh*t with Jay and all of that, 1Take, and he was blowing up in the city. But that was my homie. We don’t look at it like that when that’s your homie. But that n**** Slimmy, I’m in the studio. Couple days later, that n**** was texting me. He sent me a song. I didn’t have nothing going. Playing the song back after I recorded it in the garage with all the homies, they’re like, “Man, that’s hard.” I was looking back like, “Man, that sh*t was tight,” like you’re doing shit now! All my homies were recording the garage, like me, Phabo. Phabo cut a gang of records. He’s new from Soulection. We be running through here making music.
My first show was at a club in San Diego called F6. My dawg Junior used to run the club on Thursday nights. I was buying a hoverboard from bro in the parking lot at the crib. I was playing some music. The homie was playing my music out of the car because I had been recording little songs when I was in college, and I used to just be freestyling on sh*t. The homie’s playing my music. He was like, “What’s that?” I’m like, “Sh*t, that’s me. I be rapping.” He’s like, “Yeah?” I’m like, “Yeah, I be getting little views and sh*t like that. I play football for real, but I be rapping on the side.” He’s like, “If you ever want to perform, come to the club. I could set it up on a Thursday night.” Thursday nights be cool. I told all my homies that I had a show, and I posted it. They made me a flyer. Everybody came out at my school. Everybody I f*cked with at my school came, all the sports— basketball, football, soccer, the girls that play tennis. The line was wrapped around the club because it was so many of us, the people that were supporting me. It was lit. We packed the whole club. I only had two songs. I performed two songs like five times, and it was just rocking. It was going up, and from there on out. I was like, “Alright, let me start doing music.” Then a couple months after that, I opened up for Young Thug, and that was my real first performance at a concert venue. It was at the Observatory in San Diego. I f*cking stage-dived, and they caught me. I was like, “I want to be a rapper.” I was brought in at that point, like, “Oh my god, you stage dived.” That sh*t crazy. So that was a n**** first show.
Man, I watch “Good Girls.” It’s one of my favorite shows. I be embarrassed to say it, but that’s a real good show. I’ve met the security guard from the show. That’s my homie now. I met him in the Gucci store. And I was like, “Hey, bro, you’re on Good Girls!” He was like, “What?” Like, what the f*ck? You watch that show? I was like, “On god, that’s my sh*t.” I started talking to bro about the show. We ended up being real cool. His name is Caleb [Tyler]. He ended up coming to my show at the Novo and everything right after that. I ended up making a buddy out of that. It was crazy, but I really f*ck with that show.
I watch a lot of TV. TV is amazing. TV right now is really good. I see why people in the 90s were so into TV because it was actually following what was going on in their time period. Now I’m an adult, and I actually know what’s going on in the world. It’s different from watching it as a kid because you don’t really know. When you were a teenager, you didn’t really know what was going on. You just watch the shows, but now, I can actually relate. And then on top of that, I’m making music now, and I’m actually becoming somebody, so I’m knowing people. I’m knowing the n***** in these shows, seeing n***** in the club. I’m going to the gym, seeing n***** in the gym. I’m playing in celebrity all-star games with people. My life crazy. If I had to sum it all up, this sh*t crazy. I could never have imagined living like this.
Going on tour. We already finished the TwoFr tour. It was my first headlining tour ever, so I’m extremely excited. I’ve been working out, getting in a little tour mode. I just want to make sure I’m putting on a great show. I want to leave a good taste in everybody’s mouth. That sounded crazy. I just want everybody to f*ck with the show. I want everybody to love it. I want to take my showmanship seriously. That’s the difference between a lot of artists— people who just be standing up on stage and looking around. I want to make sure I get out of that bubble, graduate from that and actually put a show on. I hope people are excited. I don’t think that people are expecting what I got planned. Finna take it through the roof.
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HNHH: What do you think of the current state of LA Hip-Hop? And do you think there’s a time of the past that this era feels similar to?
Kalan.FrFr: I don’t feel like it’s ever been like anything. There are so many of us that really f*ck with each other. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it like this — that all people that aren’t from the same label, or from the same clique, or from the same group. We all from different areas, different pockets in LA, but we all come together to make sh*t happen. Everybody knows about each other because of everybody. You know what I mean? It reminds me of Atlanta, how they got sh*t going on out there. We still working out the kinks and stuff, but from this generation, everybody’s messing with everybody right now. It be a little politics here and there, but for the most part, people support each other. It’s nothing better than that, and we lack a lot of that in LA, so I’m glad that it’s getting better. I would say it’s getting way better.
Whenever I listened — at least when I listened to TwoFr 2 — I noticed you mention your grandma a lot. Talk to me a little bit about her influence on your music.
She influences my life. I never want to let her down. I slept in a bed with my grandmother until the moment she passed away. She died in a bed with me. It’s a connection. I feel connected to her. I can just talk to her, and damn near feel like somebody’s saying something back to me. I got to do this sh*t. I got to be the best at it. I gotta make that sh*t work. Before my grandma died, she just told me, “You could do it.” She always told me I’m a star. She was always telling me, “whatever you want to do, just do it. You could do anything.” She would sit up and watch me act like Michael Jackson for an hour, then come in the backyard and watch me play football by myself, throwing the ball up in the air. Throwing me the ball so I could play football. Like, my grandma playing catch with me and shit like that. Different shit like that. Riding my bike. Watch me go and ride my bike, helping me make a ramp in the front yard. My mama was working, so I was with my grandma all the time. Anything I ever wanted to do, she made it okay for me to do it.
A lot of things that people, in general, are lacking, starts as a child, and it starts with your parents, and it determines what you can be, how big you dream. A lot of people’s parents and the world limit a lot of people’s dreams, telling people what they can and cannot do and what they can and cannot be. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t be nothing. Realistically, I knew I wasn’t gonna be the president. I don’t even like school. How the fuck am I gonna be president? I’m not interested in that. But if I was, I could. And if I couldn’t, then it wasn’t for me. I never look at myself as a failure for trying something, because I tried, and I’mma always getting something out of it. You are always gonna get something out of something you trying. And if you not, and you continue to do it, you’re insane. That’s literally the definition of insanity. My grandma, she just sit on me. She in my heart. People would think I’m crazy. I’ll sit up and be talking like, “Granny, I got to do this sh*t.” They’re like, “Who are you talking to?” I can just feel her with me all the time. It’s a spiritual thing.
So Jay-Z calls and he gets you to sign with Roc Nation. What’s the best advice he’s been able to give you so far?
We ain’t really had too many one-on-ones. During COVID, nobody was in the office, and then I’m from LA. Everybody’s in New York. I’m just now starting to meet bro. Every time I see him, we be around a gang of people. There don’t be too much time, so I haven’t had my one-on-ones will bro yet. But when the time do come, I’ll let you know.
That’s a mad surreal moment, going from listening to him in your headphones to meeting him.
I didn’t even know he was that tall, bro. That n**** tall. I had looked up like, “Damn.” He’s like a hooper. He got hooper size on him. That sh*t was shocking, seeing him in the office. I really admire bro, so this sh*t dope.
Obviously, you’re such a fan of Kanye as well. Signing to Jay, did you ever acknowledge that parallel with Kanye’s career?
Hell yeah. I posted a picture a couple months ago saying I was a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of the Roc. I been eating that sh*t up. That whole Kanye album with Jay talking at the end of it. Fuck you, Kanye, first and foremost. That’s a dream. I would love to have Jay-Z talking at the end of my song. He don’t even got to do a feature, just say something. Who don’t want that? I for sure have made the comparison, but I would never compare myself to Kanye. I’m my own guy. It’s just to have my own imagination of all of that sh*t when I was a child listening to it for the first time, and being a kid and wondering how it happened. Then thinking, “Damn, I was just with Jay-Z.” That’s crazy. Like I said earlier, my life— it’s all new to me. In five years, this conversation—God willing—will be totally different. I’ll be like, “Man, Jay was just over here tripping the other day at the house. We was eating crab legs. That’s my n****.” But right now, this is all new to me, and I love it. Everything that comes with it, I love it.