Strong, sexy and here to stay
While Isolation is her debut album release, Kali Uchis has been on the come up for a while. Early in her career, she was featured on Snoop Dogg’s 2014 mixtape That’s My Work, and she released her own EP Por Vida in 2015. She toured through 2015-2016, supporting the tours of Leon Bridges and Lana Del Rey (respectively) in addition to her own tour and festival appearances throughout the past few years. She even garnered award show attention in 2017 when she was nominated for a Latin Grammy for “Record of the Year” as well as a Grammy for “Best R&B Performance” with Daniel Caesar for “Get You.” Colombian born and raised in the U.S., she sings in both Spanish and English and is sure to lead the current surge in Latin influence on American pop music. Isolation proves that she brings a lot to the table and has secured her spot as a defining new face in the pop/R&B world.
The opening tracks of Isolation immediately make a statement. “Body Language (Intro)” is the perfect introduction to Uchis’ sound, with waves crashing in the background and Uchis sultry singing over a samba track. The songs that immediately follow are album highlights as well. “Miami” further defines her sweltering, swaggy style and makes use of a trap beat to reinforce the gangster sentiments in the lyrics throughout the song. The lyrics acknowledge her appearance may be deceiving — she proclaims she’s “not here to be cute / not here to impress / you know what I came for I’m here to collect… why would I be Kim when I could be Kanye.” Uchis knows she’s attractive, but she’s not here to look pretty, she’s here to make her mark on the music scene. The Steve Lacy assisted “Just A Stranger” follows, reinforcing similar lyrical sentiments over Lacy’s trademark funky bass anchored instrumentals.
Later on, “Your Teeth In My Neck” is another standout, with Kali Uchis crooning over complex and skillfully executed jazz. Next, she taps the ever-talented Jorja Smith on “Tyrant,” a mostly English update to her previously released Spanish-language“Tirano” which featured Latin artist Fuego. In fact, the album only features one fully Spanish track, “Nuestro Planeta,” featuring Reykon. Though the record spans multiple musical styles and vibes, Kali Uchis’ distinct flavor runs throughout.
While Isolation serves as a showcase of what Kali Uchis is capable of, there are multiple impressive collaborations on this album that are not to be overlooked. The unmistakable influence of The Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn can be heard on “In My Dreams.” She dips into psychedelia on “Tomorrow” which features writing and production by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. Later, she stays true to her fashion of pulling from the past as she shapes the future and collaborates with funk legend Bootsy Collins on “After The Storm.”
Kali Uchis has spent years establishing herself musically, and her debut album has been worth the wait. She has a sultry sound that borrows from the past while distinctly updating it and is unabashedly feminine without being afraid to showcase her power. Isolation proves that Kali Uchis is the complete package.