Without a shadow of a doubt, this is Kali's year to shine. One of 2022's most exciting breakout artists in hip-hop, the Georgia-based 21-year-old rapper has been leveling up during the rollout of her new project, Toxic Chocolate. With each new release, it feels like Kali takes another giant leap up the rap rankings, making it increasingly clear that she is one of the industry's next It girls. 

In the entertainment industry, there is something known as the mysterious "it" factor. Charismatic, confident, and unique, Kali is bringing something new to the game and she definitely has "it," proving her naysayers over the years that she will become a superstar with viral songs including "Do A B*tch" and "MMM MMM." 

Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: Danita Bethea

Last week, Kali celebrated International Women's Day with the release of her latest single, "Standards." She closed the week by dropping her new project, Toxic Chocolate, which features MoneyBagg Yo, Latto, BIA, Yung Bleu, and Muni Long. The eight-song display is a great introduction to what Kali is bringing to the game, with many already comparing her to rappers like Future because of her toxic lyrical themes.

As she continues to make noise during the early stages of her career, we spoke with the rapper on the rise a few weeks ago for a special Women's History Month-themed interview. Read the unabridged editorial interview below, which has been slightly edited for length and clarity.

HNHH: Congratulations on the release of "UonU" with Yung Bleu. How did that record come together?

Kali: We’ve been friends for a minute now and I love his music, I tell him all the time so I’m like, "Hey, I need you to jump on a song with me." And you know he got a different vibe so I gotta pick something for both of us to be able to hop on, and that’s how "UonU" came out.

Were you guys ever in the studio together or was it completely a remote experience?

I did the song on a different day, but I pulled up on him with the open verse so he did it right in front of me. We was in the studio vibing. We had the Casamigos there, you know Valentine’s Day is on the way, I did a song for the girls going through it with they man.

And you dropped the video today too. It shows you very casually committing a robbery with your partner in crime. What was the experience of filming the video?

It was actually really fun. I had fun just because I wanted to see if I could act a little bit, you know, the walking into the bank and all that stuff, it was cool to see it all being put together after such a long day of shooting and having all those shoot days. And Bleu’s tryna act, and I’m just tryna get into it a little bit, that was really fun for me. The video came out really great, I’m very proud of it. It’s one of my favorite videos just because I was trying different styles I hadn’t tried before.

Like you said, you turned out some stunning looks for the video. It turned out great. "UonU" will be included on your upcoming new EP. What can we expect from your new project? [Ed. note: Kali's new EP is officially out now. Check it out here.]

Y’all can expect hits, toxic hits. That’s what we callin’ it. Toxic hits. It’s a toxic season for everybody. We teaching the girls, "Hey, it’s okay to be a little toxic sometimes."

"We teaching the girls, 'Hey, it’s okay to be a little toxic sometimes.'"

We’ve seen you collaborate with some very big names over the last year, really building your brand up. Are there any other collaborations set aside for the EP aside from Bleu?

Yeah, we got some big fish on there. One of the names I’m really excited about is BIA. That song is gonna eat.

That’s gonna be big in the clubs, I can feel it.

Yes, I'm excited!

Kali new interview

Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: Danita Bethea

What was your favorite part about working on these "toxic hits" with Yung Bleu, BIA, and everyone else?

My favorite part about working on it is just that this tape is so raw. Like I, literally, everything that I was feeling, this is actually me. I was really getting my raw emotions and how I be dealing with stuff, and you know I’m growing and I’m learning. But I’m in the studio, some days I be mad and I’m just like, you know what, book me a studio session, I gotta let them know how I’m feeling right now. So, that was the most fun for me. Working with different people and different producers and different artists. That was really fun and just hearing their reactions like, “Oh my god, Kali, you wrote this and I love it!”

Most definitely. You’re going crazy right now. You’re one of the new "it" girls in rap right now. What does that position entail to you? 

It’s great, I worked really hard to be here and I’m here to stay. This year 2022 came, I’m hittin’ the ground running. I’m on everybody’s necks. I’m not lettin’ up.

So going back to the beginning, last year, you had your first viral moment with “Do A B*tch”. Were you expecting that song to blow up like it did?

I actually wasn’t expecting “Do A Bi*ch” to blow up the way that it did. My friends really loved it, and when I played it they be turnt up so I’m like, I never put any music on TikTok during that time so I was like, how I always see people putting their music on there, let me just see how they’re going to react to me putting my songs on TikTok and I had just learned how to do the transitions and stuff. So, I really wasn’t expecting it to blow up how it did. But when it was hours going by and people were already doing the pretty b*tch, I was like, "Oh! I done started something."

"I actually wasn’t expecting “Do A Bi*ch” to blow up the way that it did. My friends really loved it, and when I played it they be turnt up so I’m like, I never put any music on TikTok during that time so I was like, how I always see people putting their music on there, let me just see how they’re going to react"

It must be a good feeling. How important do you think TikTok and other social media platforms are for a rising artist these days? 

Honestly, I think it’s super important. I feel like it makes it easier to get heard by a lot of people faster. If you keep reposting your stuff and you keep playing your stuff, especially people on TikTok... I be gettin’ all kinds of videos from India, I be seeing everything. It be everywhere. So I think TikTok is super important and they’re actually really supportive on TikTok. You never know when somebody’s going to come up with a dance or do a viral makeup moment. It’s always unexpected but I feel like social media plays a big part now in music and youth try to become a big rising star.

You followed up the success of the song with a few different remixes. You got one with Rico Nasty, another one with Saucy Santana, another one with Enchanting. Why did you choose to release three different remixes to the song?

Well, I wanted to see everybody’s take on how they would come on “Do A B*tch” because when I was doing it, I was like, "Oh my god this beat’s so slow... Let’s see if people gon' be rocking with it. Is it a vibe?" So I wanted to see how different artists would approach it and Rico Nasty is one of my favorite artists, so her asking to be on it, I had to. And everyone was like, "Oh I wanna do it too!", and I’m like, "Hey, you know what, let’s just keep dropping remixes."

Do you have a favorite of the three or are all of them equal for you?

Yeah, everybody equal, it’s totally different vibes, like everybody came differently, it’s all three vibes. Santana’s real sassy, bad b*tch, and Rico is fun girl, you know, it’s just a different type of vibe. Me and Enchanting on that slow whistle tone.

Considering the fact that Rico Nasty is one of your personal favorite artists, what was it like to work with her? You said she had reached out to you?

Yeah. She had done the challenge on TikTok first and I seen it and I was going crazy I was like, "Oh my god, Rico Nasty just did my TikTok." She had posted her TikTok on Twitter, it was going viral and she was like, "This not me, this is Kali." She’s really dope and she had texted my management and was like, "Hey, would you mind if I did a remix with you? I would really love to jump on the record." And I’m like, "Girl you coulda freestyled over this song and dropped it and I would’ve said yes."

That’s really cool. And now you’ve collaborated a few times with Enchanting, including on “Track & Field” which was a big song for both of you. What do you find so special about her and her style and how you guys match up together? 

Enchanting, she’s like my evil twin. Everybody says we kind of have similar sounds but really that’s just how we come off, just smooth. We just chill, we smooth. I feel like me and Enchanting, it’s a cool dynamic duo because when we pop out, we give the girls like, you know you can talk your shit but just know you cool, you don’t gotta do too much. So yeah, she like my evil twin.

Are there any other women in rap right now that you want to collaborate with for the rest of the year?

I would love to do some music with Tay Money and Flo Milli. Honestly, I love all the rap girls. I’m here for all the females takin' over and us doing the damn thing because it’s time. My dream collab is Nicki. Queen Nicki. You know she just had her two drops on the same day I dropped my song.

"Honestly, I love all the rap girls. I’m here for all the females takin' over and us doing the damn thing because it’s time. My dream collab is Nicki. Queen Nicki."

Great minds think alike.

Right. Yeah.

We’ve spoken about the younger women coming up in hip-hop. I also want to ask about some of your influences. Can you let us know some of the women that really influenced your style over time?

Like I said, I love me some Nicki. I love how creative and open she is, and just being totally herself. She don’t care what people say about her at all. She’s still winning. So I wanna embody that whole confidence. And Missy Elliott, that’s just me coming up. Again, herself being super creative and just the visuals and all of that is super dope to me. I like women that be out there and you just don’t expect it. That’s why I love Rico Nasty because her visuals are always crazy, just to watch it is always really dope. And I’m into Aaliyah, her style was just the dopest. That’s how I love to dress and just being cool and just overall chillin'. That’s me.

You recently launched your hilarious video for "Toxic Chocolate Hotline." Can you let me know about the title and what it was like coming up with this promo concept?  

I named it “Toxic Chocolate” because I call it toxic tantrums, I have little episodes where I be a little toxic. I be wanting love but it just don’t be working out sometimes, I just be a little toxic. And you know, everybody be like, "I love darkskin men," so they be like, "Girl, you love toxic chocolate!" Them men be toxic and they chocolate, and you toxic, and you chocolate. So, I just put it together. I’m like, "Hey, I’ma put it on my tape ‘cause your girl was going through it for a little moment." I had a whole toxic tantrum for about two months now. The concept is I know I’m not the only one going through it. I know it. I see it all the time on TikTok, girls' tweets. I be like, "Dang, is we all going through the same thing right now?" So, I felt like the “Toxic Chocolate” trailer would be super dope for girls to call in and tell me about it. I’ll tell them, "Look, you’re not the only one, okay." And I’m really into readings and things like that, so I wanted to incorporate that. I always look for what my horoscope is gon’ say for the day.  I be like, "Am I gon’ be bad today? Who gon’ piss me off today?"

I read that you're a Leo, right?

Yeah, I'm a Leo.

You’re giving heavy Leo vibes. I love that. You were supposed to be heading out on the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun tour with Flo Milli, Dess Dior, Sally Sossa, and others. What happened with that?

Actually, that tour got postponed. We haven’t done that yet but I’ve been getting ready for Latto's tour. 

Do you know if the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun tour will still happen?

I’m not sure. It’s most likely gonna be after Latto's because Latto’s is coming up so soon. 

Makes sense. So, you’re headed on tour with Latto, Saucy Santana, and Asianae. What can we expect from your performance? 

It's my first tour so y’all can expect me to be going hard. I’m giving it my all because it’s my first tour, it’s like I got a statement to make. With my outfits, my hair, and just me being a new rap girl. I feel like this is my tour, I gained some new fans, people that don’t really know me right now. It’s an opportunity to do that. So, y’all can expect me to go hard, bring out some really dope people on my sets.

I gotta say, I’m a little bit upset that you guys aren’t coming to Toronto! I definitely would have popped out for that.

It’s cold up there!

You right. Maybe next time. How did you end up linking with Latto for an opening spot on the tour? Was that through the “MMM MMM” remix? 

Yes, it was through the “MMM MMM” remix. It was two females that I really wanted to be on the “MMM MMM” remix. That was Nicki and Latto. And Latto was like, "You know I heard you wanted me to be on that remix. I’m down." So I’m like, "Yeah, oh fo’sho." We started seeing each other out at events and things like that, the club, turning up, and we just became real cool, real close. She’s one of the people in the industry I think is really genuine and honestly wants to see me win too as one of the rap girls. She was like, "You know what, the tour, it’s yours!"

That's beautiful! Speaking on “MMM MMM,” that's another one of your viral records. We’ve been talking about a few of them. You seem to be developing a real knack for delivering infectious, catchy bangers that really work for social media. What is your process behind coming up with these trendy songs and moments? 

It just be straight like my emotion, no writing them down. I go in the studio and I be like, "What am I going through today?" Like I know I been going through something, let me just get it out. I got my hookah with me. I got me some tequila, and I got my friends in there. We be turnt up. We be like, what’s the vibe today? I feel like I’m a pretty cool person, I know what folks like so I just go in there and be like, what would I want to hear? 

For the last few years, there has been a real surge of women in rap. Women have really been dominating. What would you say are the main challenges for women in rap right now coming up?

Once you have a record, staying relevant. I feel like that’s always been hard for females. Like staying in their faces. I feel like that’s my biggest thing. It’s not my problem but that’s my biggest thing every day, I don’t want to just fade away.

Yeah, we see so many artists get a big record and then disappear after a few years, I think that's a natural fear for any artist to have. To suddenly just lose that steam. Having been in the industry now for a few years, what do you think are the biggest differences between male and female rappers in 2022? 

I would say, right now, females is just going crazy. Females is just on they necks. I can’t lie, it’s a lot more female rappers right now that’s poppin' than the males because I feel like females, we showing that we really want this, really badly. It’s just not a random thing that happened overnight. I would say what we talk about is different. 

And there remains a lot of misogyny coming from a few of the prominent male rappers in their lyrics. Do you think that’s gonna change as women take over the genre? Or do you think that’s gonna be in hip-hop forever?

I think it’s just gon’ stay what it is. They gon’ talk they sh*t and we gon talk ours.

How would you say you’re pushing the culture forward for future women to become hip-hop superstars?

I feel like I’m doing a thing for us dark skin women. I got the natural hair going on. You’re beautiful, you could do what you want to do and just stay. Believe in yourself. It took me a long time to get here.

What’s next for you after Toxic Chocolate?

Well, I’m hoping to maybe do my own tour. Do my own tour, get the rap girls, the rap guys on there. So hopefully that’s in the works after this tape drops ‘cause it’s going up. 

Come to Toronto, Kali! I'm trying to see you live!

I’m coming to Toronto!

Is there anything you haven’t talked about that you want to discuss before closing up?

I think we hit it all.

Appreciate you, Kali. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Thank you.


Image provided by the artist. Photo credit: Danita Bethea