When the HHCF dropped the Street Games Vol. 1 Mixtape with DJ Rob Flow, there was a huge positive response around the world. Nobody expected a profanity free mixtape to be so lyrically aggressive and educational. Rapper Kalhi, based in Geneva Switzerland had arguably one of the mixtapes most standout tracks with A Technical Flow which featured UFC Coach Ryron Gracie. If anyone had any questions about the connections between Hip-Hop, chess and jiu jitsu- he answered them!! Kalhi recently dropped a new mixtape called Round 1 which you can download right now! In the tradition of Gangstarr, Nas and others he gives his heart to the mic. Its a very impressive mixtape in terms of its production and lyrical content (though kids will want to get their parents permission). In this interview we talk about the impact rap had on his life, being raised between The Bay and Geneva, his love for martial arts and his plans for the future.
Where are you from.and what are your earliest memories of rap?
I was born in Berkeley California. My father is from the Bay Area but my mother is from Geneva
Switzerland. When I was a few months old, my parents decided to move to Europe, so that’s
where I grew up until moving back to the Bay at 18.
My earliest memory of rap was when I was about 5-6 years old. A friend of the family got me
my very first album as a gift, it was Mc Solaar (french rapper who you might know from a Guru
feature back in the day). No turning back ever since…
I understand you learned English from Tupac and Nas albums? Is that true?
Yeah in a sense that’s true. I definitely got the basics from my father speaking to me in english
as a child, but the way I talk and especially the way I rap was molded from listening to Pac and
Nas mostly for sure. That’s why I can say that in a sense I learned a lot of my english through
hip hop and movies.
What else have you learned through Hip-Hop?
I really feel like Hip Hop was my third parent in a sense. I was conscientious enough as a kid
to pick the right artists to listen to, but I learned so much I wouldn’t be able to list any particular
thing. Hip Hop IS part of me, and who I am period. Hip Hop helped raise so many kids, and I
was no exception.
Tell me about your latest project?
I have a mixtape coming out at the end of january 2014. It’s been a LONG time coming! I’ve
been rapping for about 14 years on and off, but never took it seriously until last year. This
project is my “baby” in a sense. This one sets the bar for what’s to come this coming year for
You also have a history with martial arts. Tell me about that.
Hip Hop and Martial Arts are the two main pillars in my life. If you want a common denominator
to anyone I have met and done business with or anything in between for that matter, you can
literally trace it back to either Hip Hop or Martial Arts (specifically Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu).
I started my Martial Arts journey when I was 6-7 years old with Judo…then stopped after a
couple years to play soccer (like every kid in Europe), but got back into it with kung-Fu when
I was 11. From there, I heard about Muay Thai when I was 14 and never looked back! Fast
forward to 2007 when I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team. Since then,
I’ve been training mostly Jiu Jitsu, but was also teaching Muay Thai at Jake Shields MMA gym
while I was a student at UC Berkeley.
You got a huge response from the CTRL Industries ad. Did you expect that?
To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect. But one thing I knew for sure is that it’s really
difficult to mix rap with a certain “sport” and not make it sound all corny and wack…so I do feel
like I was able to bridge the gap between hip hop/chess/and martial arts on that one song pretty
nicely, while still keeping the true essence of Hip Hop intact.
Any last words?
I want to thank all the people who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I want to thank
my family and girlfriend for always being there for me, and my close friends as well. I also want
to thank everyone around me who’ve been supporting me from day one, they know who they
Download his new mixtape Round 1 at www.kalhimusic.com