Khalilah Rose is Reggae’s songbird. This Roots & Culture Reggae artist surpasses any confines placed upon her genre; she soars along and continues to become a global presence. “Hail H.I.M.”, her international hit single stays atop the charts in several different countries. Africa, the cradle of civilization has enriched her Jamaican roots. If stateside in New York, or diligently working on uplifting music in Bull Bay, the hailed singer/songwriter’s creativity is reinforced with credible lyrics. And, though Khalilah has been blessed with life, health, and strength, the rising icon still experiences the human condition. Family, the nucleus of her world, at times brings stress, but is always there to demonstrate its support.
Unabashed candor envelopes her sincerity. Before continuing, Khalilah inhales a refreshing breath. A smile tugs the corners of her generous mouth, releasing it she continues, “With all honesty, one of my greatest motivations is my family. They want this just as much as I do. They can’t comprehend seeing Khalilah Rose without music; or, music without Khalilah Rose. So, as they see everything progress they keep pushing and inspiring me. They’re helping me so that my life can be balanced and I can keep pushing with the music…” – and with that we begin this exclusive AllHipHop.com feature interview:
AllHipHop.com: Where are you originally from, and where do you currently reside?
Khalilah Rose: Originally, I’m from Africa, of course. My family is from Jamaica. And I currently reside in New York and in Jamaica; I go back and forth.
AllHipHop.com: Since you were brought up the Motherland, I have a question. Is it true that you’re doing African shows for free?
Khalilah Rose: Yes, just as long as they can provide for my transportation and my accommodations. I’m willing to do shows in Africa for free, just as long as the proceeds are going to a charity, to help someone.
AllHipHop.com: That is beautiful. I heard something like that, but I was hating and didn’t believe that you were that altruistic.
Khalilah Rose: [laughs] I did it because I was looking into the amount of money that promoters have to pay to get artists to come to Africa, it was very high. So, you know, I decided that I should do that.
AllHipHop.com: Out of the plethora of things that you could be doing, why do you share your soul through music?
Khalilah Rose: Well, I feel so strongly about the things that go on around me, and the things that happen in the world. They just vibrate through my soul; it’s so intense. I felt like music is such a great tool to talk to a mass amount of people. Music can help to feed the young, and to get minds to open up in a different way.
AllHipHop.com: The Reggae community is known for its diligence stance against homosexuality. Sizzila Kalonji, Beanie Man, Capleton, and Bounty Killa were refused U.S. working visas because they oppose homosexuality. As a woman, and as an artist, what are your views on the subject?
Khalilah Rose: Well, my view is that I know how God intended us on how to live. I believe that the laws of God are very important for us to follow. We all should live for the Most High, and that’s it.
AllHipHop.com: No man is an island. Usually a collective may realize a dream more quickly than a solitary individual. As a Roots & Culture Reggae artist, how would you describe the factors that lead you to trust your career in the hands of a Hip-Hop manager?
Khalilah Rose: Being someone who has responsibilities, a family, I have to be there for them. I have to balance myself. In order to balance myself, management is there to take care a lot of the business aspect of the music for me. So, that way, I can be there for my family. That’s the most important factor.
AllHipHop.com: “Jah Is Living” and “Hail H.I.M” are a couple of your many songs celebrating God. What makes you reference God so much when we live in a society that likes to shun His existence?
Khalilah Rose: I pray a lot. And I’ve realized when I’m going through so many hard times, if I need anything, I can just ask God for whatever I need. I just want the world to realize that we have the power to achieve anything and to heal any wounds. And it is through God. I just wish He was more vocalized. In mainstream music, and the music that we hear on the radio, they always speak so much about being in a relationship, who looks cute, and who’s going to the club, but what happened to the most important element in our lives? That is the Creator.
AllHipHop.com: Some people may you view as having a meteoric rise to stardom. What do you say to those who view you as an overnight sensation?
Khalilah Rose: It was a lot of hard work, you know. I’ve been through so much. You know, I had a child at a young age. To me, that was very hard. It was a struggle. To also have to put myself through school while being a single mother, I had to work very hard to get to where I am now. So, that is so not true.
AllHipHop.com: To a point, you represent the “American Dream.” Yes, you started your family early, you had to be self-reliant while you put yourself through school, and you’re out here conquering your goals and reinforcing your dream. You serve as a symbol to what one may accomplish if he’s motivated….
Khalilah Rose: In this life, I see things that I want to achieve. What is the purpose of me being here if I don’t have goals and try to fulfill them? I’ve realized that it is a reality that we may accomplish anything that we put our minds to. You also have to carry God with you, and anything is possible.
AllHipHop.com: It seems as though your art is highly message-driven. How are you learning to arouse a genuine concern for different causes without sounding preachy?
Khalilah Rose: I try to balance myself. If you hear my song “Your Eyes”, it’s not really a preachy song. Because I’m a woman, it’s about an element of myself; in reality, I love to love. I love to be in a healthy relationship. I have to also embrace that part of me as well. And sometimes, I may sing a song about that part of me.
AllHipHop.com: Face to Face magazine and the Jamaica Star are a couple of the international media publications that have focused upon you. In your opinion, is there a difference between earning domestic and international acclaim?
Khalilah Rose: That’s something that I speak to my manager about. For me, I personally feel that I genuinely appreciate being globally recognized, rather than just being recognized in one area. I see the impact; I get a lot of messages from all over the world. From Egypt to Israel, from Israel to Nigeria, from Ghana to Guyana—all places— all over the world. That makes me feel that I can impact more people than those that are just immediately around me. But, globally, I’m very appreciative of that.
AllHipHop.com: Zion’s Lullaby, your first album, dropped earlier this year. What are your thoughts about what you learned while undergoing the process of recording and releasing it?
Khalilah Rose: Well, my thoughts are, I’m very happy. I’ve learned that an album is like a book. You know when you feel that story’s finished. Me as an artist, I have to stand firm to not let certain individuals around me tell me differently. As an artist, or a writer, you know, when your story or when your book is complete. So, I learned to be strong with myself; I know when my story is complete. And that’s what I did, I went with what I believed was the end. I’m happy that I did that.
AllHipHop.com: This year you won the Linkage 2012 Best New Female Artist award. Given that and your willingness to only collaborate with those who you think will complement your message – plus you’ve sidestepped convention with not doing dub-plates – how do you remain steadfast and not allow convention to forcefully guide your steps?
Khalilah Rose: That is something that has been a journey for myself. I had to break free from working with certain individuals, because they felt that I wasn’t sexy. That I wasn’t using sex to sell my music; people told me that I had to use sex to sell my music. [They told me that] I should look a certain way. They told me I should let my hair down. Most of these people were males who told me to this.
As a female that’s doing this, I’ve been through a lot. I just want to show everyone that you don’t have to look a certain way. As women, we don’t have to sell our bodies just so that we can sell a record. Knowing that, I’m keeping it in the forefront for everything. That keeps me going. Knowing that I’m not selling out my soul for any record, any popularity, or for any money.
AllHipHop.com: That is beautiful. From the female perspective, you’re showing us that we can win without a big dumb *ss booty, a saline enhanced bust, or a weaved-up dome. We can be talented and get noticed for that.
Khalilah Rose: [laughs] Exactly.
AllHipHop.com: Until the next time, what would you like to share with your supporters?
AllHipHop.com: [laughs] I love you!