Calid B. • "Free The Watoto"
Making his 2018 debut, Calid B. finds the versatile producer Lord Haiti for his new track “Free The Watoto”. Skating over the symphonic beat of Lord Haiti, Calid champions the track with a strong message rooted in bringing more awareness to the systemic oppression of POC world wide. Digging into the production, Lord Haiti’s Quincy Jones esque soundscape drives home with a danceable beat from start to finish, a perfect backdrop for Calid’s jazz scattering rhymes to keep you in tune with a track that feels like it was built for the big screen. As a solo artist, Calid’s carefully curated sound has been going strong for the past two years. Beginning as a man behind the scenes through artist management and production, Calid’s self produced project AfroBang—featuring fellow musicians like Sam Trump and Boyang—became his official mark as a vocalist on the Chicago music scene.
Initially moving to Chicago from Ohio for grad school at Columbia College, Calid B. looks back on the windy city that gave him inspiration with fondness. “Chicago has played a huge role in my development as an artist. With it being an international city, Chicago definitely allowed me to experience music from all different cultures by attending all the different neighborhood festivals, and city events. And as a manager, I was also able to work with artists early in their career who’ve gone on to have great success, like Brandun DeShay, and Vic Mensa, which just made a career as an artist just seem more real and attainable.”
Along with Calid’s excitement of releasing his next body of work, AfroBang 2: The Son of Sogolon this summer, he’s expressed that he and his team are working hard to take everything to the next level. “I took a little break from performing, so I’m looking forward to getting back on stage [...] I also will be DJing and producing for other artists more this year, to really showcase my full range of skills and just keep giving my community dope content to vibe to.” With tracks like “Free The Watoto”, there’s no mistake that Calid B.’s AfroBang will be a household name in no time!
Find out more about Calid B. and his new song “Free The Watoto” in our exclusive Q&A below.
I’m aware of the Watoto Children choirs in Uganda, but what specifically about Chicago inspired you to create this song?
I always think about how my music will resonate with the youth when I’m creating. I feel like it’s my responsibility as an artist to not only tell my story but also create something inspirational for the next generation. I had the chance to work with the youth in Chicago, I volunteered with the Off The Street Club (OTSC) for a few years, which is an after school program for kids on the west side. And their stories still inspire me daily. Many of the kids I worked with had already experienced the death of close friends and family members often due to gang violence, but their resilience and boundless optimism was remarkable, and they always lit up when they saw me arrive. It gave me more validation that I have to create music that they will not only be inspired by, but can also use to rediscover their heritage. The title of this song, “Free The Watoto” or “Free The Children,” is a call to action to provide black and brown kids across the diaspora more opportunities to thrive and succeed. In a sense, this song is in the same spirit as Saul William’s “List of Demands,” that is calling out the corrupt system that is setup to have our kids fail, and also a song about self actualization, and the freedom that comes with knowing yourself.
Listening to your lyrics it’s evident that you’re speaking about the systemic oppression of POC, but I can’t help but feel the urge to dance to the beat. Do you feel it’s important for artist with socio-political messages to use thought provoking dance tracks to have their message heard? If so Why?
Haha I love it, thank you for dancing. I think it’s always powerful when you can weave in lyrical substance with dance records. M.I.A. is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve always admired how she does it. Kendrick is a master at that as well. Although I don’t think it’s always necessary, I do think it helps if you want your message to reach a broader audience. And for me, I started out as a producer, so it’s always been about the music first then lyrics.
This appears to be your first track with Lord Haiti but the chemistry is certainly there. How did you two get in tune to create this one?
Shout out to Lord Haiti for producing this one. I’d been a fan of his work for awhile, and invited him to our AfroBang Radio show for an interview, and we just instantly clicked and knew that we had to work together. When he came thru and played the beat for me at my home studio I went crazy lol. I knew it would be a banger as soon as it came on. I sat with the track for a few weeks just to catch a vibe, and then wrote the verse in my head, which is a new approach to writing for me, but I wanted it to come out as raw and natural as possible. Then I put some co-production touches on it and had my boy Julian Harris come thru and lay down the trumpet parts you hear, and give it that throwback Fela Kuti vibe. I really love how it came out and how it takes you on a journey as you listen through it. Me and Haiti have other records in the vault too, so stay tuned, yaya!