Kali Uchis’ “Isolation” defies genre

Photo by By Alice.Umusic

There are times when artists get into a studio to create new music, and they risk crafting a sound that their fans may or may not enjoy. It’s trial and error for everyone in the industry. These experiments can bear a lot of pressure for an artist whose passions get tangled with the charts and fan expectations. Although fear of mistakes may be prevalent in the music making process, it is something absent in Kali Uchis’ genre-defying “Isolation.” Uchis has made a name for herself by managing her own brand and producing her own music. She is not one to merely dream; she’s the architect of their existence, a visionary, who once imagined herself producing films and now constructs a world with the sounds of her music. Fans anticipated her debut album since the release of the “Por Vida” EP in 2015.

Music video from Kali Uchis’ “Por Vida” EP.

In between, Uchis managed to stretch her fan base with her collaborations with artists like Daniel Caesar, Vince Staples, Juanes, and Tyler, the Creator. “Isolation” proves Uchis is no longer an up-and-coming artist but one ready to be fiercely unleashed on a world where genres are free from creative constraint. The album begins with “Body Language-Intro” and consists of Uchis’ harmonies with a Bossa Nova rhythm. Following that comes one of the more prominent tracks on the album, “Miami (feat. BIA)” which fuses a psychedelic guitar with Uchis’ melodies and BIA’s rap. The collaborations and experiments with different sounds do not stop there. Uchis incorporates an 80s pop electro sound in “Just a Stranger (feat. Steve Lacy) and Reggaeton in “Nuestro Planeta (feat. Reykon).”

Uchis proves that an album’s fluidity can still be consistent in delivering bangers like “After The Strom (feat. Tyler, the Creator & Bootsy Collins).” She also meshes an electro-pop sound with a funky bass which is both catchy and fascinatingly displayed in “Tomorrow” and “In My Dreams” that carries a feeling nostalgia for 80s pop. Additionally, this album contains influences of R&B and Motown present in tracks like “Flight 22” and “Feel Like A Fool.” They give her sound a romance that’s both cathartic and reminiscent of struggling love. Something that is notably different and prevalent in the new wave of latin artists like Uchis is the objective of producing music they would like to hear for themselves. It’s what allows for her music to flourish and succeed with an audience that believe in her vision.

This album is a product of what an independent artist is capable of producing on their own. It establishes freedom to create a sound without boundaries and invites listeners to join the ride. The independence that Uchis’ embodies is as an artist is not shy from being expressed through her lyrics. In “Miami (feat. BIA) she sings:

“Ain’t here to be cute, I ain’t here to impress
You know why I’m calling, I’m here to collect
They look at me funny when I write a check
’Cause they assumed I would be paying in sex
And I was looking for a job, and then I found one
He said he’d want me in his video like [?]
But why would I be Kim? I could be Kanye”

Uchis touches on what it means to be a women in an industry dominated by men who seem more focused with the sex she can sell rather than her talent, and she makes it clear her talent is on nobody’s terms but hers. This is Kali Uchis debut album and judging by this release and her previous work we’re in for an exciting journey of what’s to come.

Grade: A