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Get to know: Kah-Lo

RISING STAR: Kah-Lo (Photo credit: BBC)

IT’S HARD not to take notice of Kah-Lo. The Nigerian singer/rapper stands out in whatever room she walks into, oozing coolness with her vibrant green hair and trendy yet unique style. “I spend a lot of time between Lagos and New York, and those cities definitely inspire me when it comes to music and fashion,” she says.

For Kah-Lo, born Faridah Demola Seriki – her rise to the top of the charts is just getting started. The daughter of former Minister of Defence and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Chief Demola Seriki, hit the big time with the chart-topping track Rinse and Repeat which sold 400,000 copies in the UK, 35 million streams and even earned a Grammy nomination for herself and collaborator, Riton. But her musicial journey almost came to a halt, when she debated with the idea of returning to Lagos after falling on hard luck.

“I could’ve never imagined how big Rinse and Repeat was going to be. It was recorded in March 2015 and at that time, I lost my job because I was doing to many open mic nights and got fired,” recalls Kah-Lo. “I was thinking to head back to Lagos because I was struggling here in the UK. But eventually, I linked up with Riton, we worked on Rinse and Repeat and the rest is history.”

Kah-Lo’s love of music began at a very young age, as she studied the greats from her hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. “Growing up, my dad use to go to America a lot and he would bring all these tapes back of different performances, like the Grammy’s and VMA’s because we didn’t have cable television,” says the young talent.

Riton and Kah-Lo: 'Rinse and Repeat'

“I remember seeing a Michael Jackson Thriller documentary and thinking I want to do this. So I decided that’s what I wanted to do but as I got older, my parents were like you need to get a proper job and I ended up studying journalism.

“I eventually graduated and got a job but I knew deep down it wasn’t for me,” says Kah-Lo. “That’s when I started to take music really seriously, and it’s been a journey since then.”

Fast forward to 2017 and Kah-Lo is now a Grammy-nominated artist and just released her latest single Fasta – a blend of afrobeats and electronica, which has taken over the airwaves and was named as the hottest track in the world in August by DJ Annie Mac.

“For Fasta, Riton sent me the beat and it reminded me of this game I used to play when I was a kid, and the game would say ‘open, close, faster faster.’ I repeated that to Riton and he fell in love with it, and that was the initial inspiration,” says the African rapstress.

Fasta among other tracks like Betta Riddim display the cool monotone vocals that Kah-Lo is slowly becoming known for – a sound she developed after coming to terms with her own acceptance.

“When I first got into music, I was rapping and it just sounded so unlike me,” reveals Kah-Lo. “I just thought to myself that I’m not ‘hard’ so what am I doing rapping like this?”

Kah-Lo: Fasta

“MIA and Slick Rick are two artists I’m inspired by and I really like their authenticity. So I tried out this kind of monotone style on a couple tracks on Soundcloud and the reception I got was good, and it just reminded me that I don’t have to be someone I’m not, I can always be myself.”

Being herself is turning out well for Kah-Lo who certainly stands out among the many African artists making waves across the world. While contemporaries like Mr. Eazi and Wizkid are doing their thing, Kah-Lo’s unique rap style over house beats have made her somewhat of a musical unicorn – but not with out being compared to another rap songstress.

“People compare me to Azealia Banks a lot which is funny, because I actually don’t know any of her songs other than 212,” she laughs. “Maybe it’s because we’re both dark skin and rap but I don’t really understand the comparison.”

“I think I’m in a really unique position because there’s no-one really doing what I’m doing from Africa, which I’m really proud of,” she states. “Even getting on a track like Rinse and Repeat was a new experience for me because it was the first time I rapped on a house beat.”

Through Kah-Lo’s exploration of house music, she says she’s learned a lot about the genre and has a deeper appreciation for it. “The house music I grew up on like Faithless, Mojo were very pop and catchy, but thanks to Riton, I’ve learnt about the different types of house; deep house, acid house, electro, techno etc. So it’s been a whole educational process for me.”

Learning is something that Kah-Lo is keen to continue doing throughout her career, as she expands her brand and releases more music in the following months. “Riton and I have a mixtape that will be out next year and I’m just excited to release music that showcase my sound and work with other producers.”

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