Born in Oakland, Bay Area rapper and multimedia artist, Kaly Jay Incognegreaux is on the rise. In alignment with love for community and his craft, Incognegreaux brings people out, and together, through energetic live performances and genuine, emotion-led lyrics. Check out his new song, "Most Likely" and join us in conversation with Kaly Jay Incognegreaux on his vision for 2022. Let's get into it!
WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO & WHAT YOU LOVE?
Kaly Jay Incognegreaux, and I make music, graphic art and I throw parties. What I love? I love to have fun and bring people together, I love to create music, I love to eat, I love food and quality time with my people. Most recently I threw a Woo Wop for my birthday. A Woo Wop is a cool dance party I put together with my friends. I get a couple of DJs, live performances and there's always food and drink present too. I try to create a house-party vibe to bring people together.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE WERE YOU RAISED & WHERE ARE YOU AT NOW?
I was born in Oakland, at Summit Hospital, and raised out here in San Francisco. Being in the Bay feels so weird because it's a lot different from where I grew up. But, I also realize that the Bay has always been a destination, its dynamic, and it's constantly changing. I don't feel like I’ll live here forever, I have the travel bug and want to see everywhere, but it's home and it still feels like home; It's good to see the people who remain, and who come back time to time.
LOCAL BUSINESSES & RESTRAUNTS CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
Shout out, The Higher Consciousness, a smoke shop run by Max and that's one of my OG’s. He definitely put me on to a lot of game. Higher Consciousness is definitely close to my heart.
Love of Ganesha, shoutout Newt. Restaurants? Shoot, there's so many. I would say, Taqueria Vallarta on 24th for sure. White Palace on Silver in San Bruno makes the best deli sandwiches for a good price too.
YOUR COMMUNITY & WHAT COMMUNITY MEANS TO YOU?
I feel like that's a multifaceted question because I’m apart of several communities. One, I’m Black in San Francisco and that's a small community within itself. Within that, I'm also an artist in San Francisco and that's another community–all of them intersect.
Community is folks who are in a similar position, in the same place and time. I don't think it means that everyone shares the same views on the world but you're all together in a similar situation, trying to figure it out and make it harmonious for everybody, ideally.
YOUR MUSIC JOURNEY, INFLUENCES & INSPIRATIONS?
I've always loved music. I didn't start out rapping, I wanted to sing and dance– be like Michael Jackson or Chris Brown. It wasn't until seventh or eighth grade when I really started getting into poetry and was introduced to Youth Speaks, they'd do the school visits, and I started writing poetry and from poetry, I was like I want to rap because I love listening to hip-hop. I grew up on that and my mom is from NY so that's the birthplace of hip hop. Yeah, I was definitely exposed to a lot of that coming up.
In high school, I was really rapping–that's what I was on and right now too. My boy, Frak (@fraktheperson) and I were rapping in high school. I feel like I took a break when I went to college but then ended up saying that I wanted to pursue it full time.
When I started out, I really didn't know anything: I didn't know much about booking shows, recording, mixing mastering--- I kind of just went out with no lifejacket. But, I learned a lot and met a lot of people. I started out doing open mics. I literally googled ‘Bay Area Open Mics’ found a list of them and would hit all of them. Consistently doing that week after week, I met hella people and started building up my community of other artists. That's how it's been going ever since.
I think a lot of that journey is reflected in my music. Beyond the personal accounts, I speak on in my music, I also try to embody all of the experiences I've had– the good ones especially. That's what I really try to do with my music, I want to create an experience for people.
With my music, it depends on what I'm feeling. So, I’ll make music specific to performing; I want people to move and I want people to feel happy, to get out of their shells. But then I also make music that's more introspective, that you can listen to in the car or in the room when you're by yourself. So, it's all about when I’m making music I'm putting myself in that setting. It usually starts with hearing the instrumental and I think first, what feeling does this evoke? Where do I picture myself when I close my eyes? And then I craft the songs based on that– the thoughts that are going through my head, the senses that are being stimulated: it’s all about bringing that to life.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE COLLABORATING WITH MISSION NATIVE, LA DOÑA ON "WANT SOMETHING?"
That song is one of my favorites actually, and it came about organically, honestly. I had a session with Ade and I was supposed to meet up there with Billy Lowel and so we went over there and La Doña (@ladona415) was finishing up a session with Adeyemi (@adeyemi415). We were all just kicking it for a minute and Ade started messing around and we were like “yo, do you want to hop on.” She was down and everyone was down, so we started writing and sharing with each other and it came together like that. That shit was hella dope. She’s one of my favorite artists, just a solid individual, and an amazing artist and musician.
As far as collaborations in the future, I'm trying to work with everyone I can. I don't feel like I need to be at the forefront, or in the spotlight, because I'm in love with the process. So, if I could make a song with every artist I’m down. For surely I want to make a song with Larry June (@larryjunetfm), on some frisko shit for the culture. I really respect him as an artist. But, everyone for sure.
VISION FOR 2022?
My vision for 2022, I'm definitely dropping a lot of music but I'm also working on building up my production company which will focus mainly on visuals: music visuals, shorts, and doing live events around that. The vision is to work with local artists and the live event aspect of it is to have premiers of whatever the visual is, just like you would see a movie, and whatever music we generate from that goes to the artists. Because, when you upload things online, you only get a fraction of the cent per view so it takes a long time for artists to see money after they've invested so much. I want to create something that is by an artist for an artist. That's the vision for 2022: My music production company, acting, and some other things I don't want to talk about now, but folks will see it. I’m feeling very productive this year.
“Everyone should shop at Derby, I've got mad love for Derby. Derby’s close to my heart because I spent a lot of time on Haight street, working here as a youngin. It feels good working with ya’ll, ya’ll embracing me like this is dope."
-Kaly Jay Incognegreaux