Meet Calid B: The Man Behind AfroBang

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Tiffany: So nice to finally meet you. How’re you doing?

Calid B.: You too! I’m doing well! How are you? 

Tiffany: I’m great, thank you for asking. Well let’s get right into it,  tell me about yourself!

Calid B.: Sure! My name is Calid B., been producing for about eight years I would say. I started in the music more as a producer or a manager, moved to Chicago about seven years ago. I’ve been producing for other artists and managing for other artists for a while and recently these pasts couple years I’ve been kinda steering away from producing for other artists and managing not for any spiteful reasons but more so for time sake because I do work a nine to five too so I just kind of ran out of time to work with other artists so to keep my passion going I started working on my own stuff on my own time. That’s kinda when AfroBang started coming about, this is about a year ago I believe. I came up with the concept for it. It sounded dope and then I kinda sat on it for a little. I researched the different sounds and what kind of vibe I wanted to get out of it. Then flash forward to now, we got the album my first big release. I released a mixtape a couple years ago but it was just kinda for fun just to release it on my birthday or whatever. This is my first official project that I’m pushing really hard and trying to see where it takes me. That’s kind of a mini little version of how we got to AfroBang.

Tiffany: Okay, so I know a little on what AfroBang is, but I kind of wanted to hear it in your words. So, how would you describe the different sounds and the different overall vibe you were talking about earlier? 

Calid B.: The vision behind AfroBang was to reconnect people to Africa in a positive way through music. So, you know, the way I incorporate Africa into my music is sampling sounds from West African Tribes which is where my dad is from. Then looking at different kinds of African influences across the world whether it be Caribbean, Hutai, even Southern South American African influences. Just the whole black diaspora across the world. Trying to incorporate that into a contemporary style like contemporary hip-hop, trap, boom bap, reggae, R n’ B, pop - fusing that all together to give you a mash-up of old and new, plus some feel good vibes. I feel like African Music for the most part is meant to make you dance and feel good and celebrate so that was the kind of vibe I was trying to go for with AfroBang. 

Tiffany: Yeah! I can tell and that’s super dope I love it. I listened to the majority of your soundcloud actually. I like to listen to who I’m actually speaking to when I’m interviewing them. I definitely enjoy your stuff, I like the feel you give and it sounds different which I also love. 

Calid B.: Haha wow, that’s awesome thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, that’s like the goal – to bring something refreshing to the table. Because I never really set out to be a solo artist necessarily. When I told myself I wanted to be my own artist I want to bring something new to the table, I don’t want to be just like another rapper out there kind of doing the same thing everyone else is doing. So I made a promise to myself to try to be unique and bring something different to the table – something that will allow me to collaborate with other artists and bring them into the AfroBang sound, kind of create a new wave like that.

Tiffany: Yeah! So, you reside in Chicago currently, have you always been in Chicago?

Calid B.: Nah, I’ve been here for like seven years but I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio born and raised. My mom’s from New Jersey and my dad’s from     , like I said earlier. Chicago’s like my second home now, they show me so much love. You know, I wasn’t planning on being here this long honestly like I came here from grad school to go to Columbia College to study music business there and the original plan was to try to go to L.A. or New York you know, try to find work out there. I don’t know, Chicago is just one of those cities that you know, you get out what you put in as far as work goes so I’ve always loved that. Summetime Chi is like, an addiction so it’s hard to get away.

Tiffany: Oh of course! The city of Chicago is definitely addicting. To be honest, it’s one of the best cities for music in my opinion and you know if you work hard enough you can succeed at doing what you love, doesn’t matter where you are. So, for the AfroBang project or just any song you’ve done in general, has there been any specific one where you’ve found it difficult to put together? 

Calid B.: Difficult? Wow, that’s a tough one. Not really, though. Everything came together pretty organically and really fast actually. Usually when an artist goes through an album making process they have to make twenty records and then they normally have to cut it down but for this one the first like six or seven records I made all felt right and I was like, aw man I guess this is kind of just meant to be. Even for me, when I make beats for other artists, there’s going to be a couple whack ones that I’m not really a huge fan of. You know, you got the throw aways in there. But with this one there weren’t really any throw aways. There’s maybe two that I’m sitting on that would probably go on a different project but yeah it’s just kind of one of those things that all of my experiences as a producer and manager and working with others really ended up being an advantage. Writing songs for myself just really came out organically. It wasn’t an easy process by far but it wasn’t difficult to put it together.

Tiffany: Okay, so you produce and you used to manage, but you’re not so much into managing currently, correct?

Calid B.: Correct, yeah.

Tiffany: Is there anything else in the music industry that you’d be interested in or willing to do?

Calid B.: I mean, I used to own my own production company that we managed artists under and you know, I kind of let that go. Me and my business partner Ashton Youboty, we had a company called Broken Chains Entertainment. Which was awesome and we learned a lot, had a lot of wins and losses but at the end of the day it was a great learning experience. So maybe eventually, I’d love AfroBang to grow into a collective more so than a production company. Just to create a platform for artists of a similar vibe to express their creativity through a comfortable foundation. I feel like that would be something really cool to bring to the music industry. That’s not really as popular right now, there are similar waves out there but there’s not really a collective or group of artists like that. So that would be cool to create something like that. 

Tiffany: Oh yeah, that sounds like something a lot of artists would be into, too. Because with the companies nowadays it’s hard for the artists to get exactly what they want out of their music and what they want to see being shown with their creativity. So, do you sing or rap at all? 

Calid B.: Yeah so that’s actually me on all the tracks. That’s me singing and rapping.

Tiffany: Okay, that’s what I thought! Because I know your main focus is producing, but I had a feeling that was you on the track as well. 

Calid B.: Right, yeah. It surprises a lot of people when I tell people, yeah that’s me rapping because everyone is so used to me producing. But yeah, I got bars too, I got bars too. I’ve been rapping and writing just as long as I’ve been producing but it was more so just playing around then sharing it, just for my friends. I actually got to give my friends a huge shout out because they always encouraged me to release more music and keep working on my writing and recording and things like that. So yeah hopefully I continue to get better at writing and recording, performing.

Tiffany: Yeah, because your voice sounds really different too when I was listening to your music.

Calid B.: Oh! Thank you.

Tiffany: You’re very welcome. So, what is an average day for you when you are trying to grind and make your music exactly?

Calid B.: There’s never an average day for me because I really only make music when I have time for it, so it’s pretty sporadic. I have that nine to five so a lot of my time is eaten up by my day job but what I do is I try to work as efficiently as possible with my time. Throughout the day I’ll have lyrics or melodies that come to me even when I’m walking to the train or I’ll be at work sometimes and something will come to me and I’ll record that idea on my phone so I have it for later. That way when I go to the studio I have these sketched out ideas that I can transport to my production studio and kind of knock it out a little bit faster so I’m not coming all the way up there for nothing. 

Tiffany: That’s definitely using your time wisely right there. That’s a great way to keep up with your music. You keep talking about your nine to five, what do you do?

Calid B.: I’m a social media manager at an agency called Epsilon. I’ve been doing social media advertising for the past five years now. Its fun, it’s definitely taught me a lot about branding and how to kind of stand out and create something that people pay attention to. 

Tiffany: Wow, you are extremely versatile. That’s definitely a critical factor to have especially in the music industry. Has there ever been a time where you couldn’t make music due to writer’s block and do you have anything you do where you can prevent that from happening? 

Calid B.: Yeah, I mean the thing is you aren’t always going to have the best melody or the best beat idea in your head all the time. I try to stay inspired as much as possible so I’m always listening to new music. I like to watch a lot of music videos and a lot of artists, staying inspired visually. Sometimes I read up on previous artists from the past to see what their creative process was. Just trying to find inspiration through different mediums I think is a way to kind of get me out of a rut or when I’m feeling down, when I might not have an idea right off the bat. I just listen to other music, you know, something that might be from a whole different genre like Rage Against the Machine or something like that. Spread my creative inspiration. I don’t know, it’s hard not to find inspiration especially with the internet. I try not to make excuses like, oh I got writers block because I don’t even believe in that anymore to be honest with how much stimulation is around us. Just trying to indulge in all different aspects of creativity really. 

Tiffany: Oh, definitely. You always want to listen to different types of music too to hopefully expand the unique vibe you give off even more than how it is perceived now. Have you done any type of shows at all?

Calid B.: Yeah, well as far as for AfroBang project I just had my second show at Silver Room Bloc Party. It was a dope turn out, really good vibes. Everyone was really feeling the music, I couldn’t ask for a better show. I also have a show in the Tonic Room on August 11th. It’s going to be amazing, a lot of dope artists are going to be there. I’d love for people to come out and turn up together, you know. Hopefully Runaway Media can come through, too. 

Tiffany: Oh of course, we’ll definitely try to pop out to it. If not, we’ll have to make sure to keep updated with your upcoming shows so we can definitely make one. I’d love to see you do what you do on a stage. Obviously you enjoy performing in front of people. How do you feel about the venues?

Calid B.: Well hopefully, one day I’ll be performing at bigger venues. Right now I’m just kind of getting my feet wet in regards to performing solo. I’ve been in groups in the past when I lived in Ohio. We performed at like talent shows and things like that but I haven’t performed since then till now. This is my first time starting to perform on my own, it’s pretty new to me. But you know eventually I’d love to perform for thousands of people and have a big production and live band and all that. Right now, I’m happy with the smaller shows or wherever I can perform at, I’m just extremely grateful for the opportunity. So far, people have been really vibing with me. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback for my first two performances. People have been coming up to me after the show saying, man this is crazy it’s only your second show like what the hell. So, it’s been a memorable experience and I can’t wait to grow as a performer as well and you know, find my own stage presence. 

Tiffany: Wow, so these past two performances have been your first two solo?

Calid B.: Yeah, it’s hard to believe but I haven’t really done anything for myself up until this project. Now I’m really trying to focus on putting myself out there and growing myself for a change, it feels good doing it too. I’m always a little nervous before I get on stage, I don’t think that will change. I just hope as my music grows so will my confidence in performing and with those two I can create a solid fan base for myself. 

Tiffany: Well, I definitely believe in you. Your music is different and makes people feel something, which is so important when being a music creative. You seem to have a strong passion for your music. That is something special and people will take notice to that on top of all of your incredible talents. I wish the best of luck to you and I really hope we can stay in touch throughout your growing process. 

Calid B.: We will, for sure! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. It’s been great.