88 Killa Teams Up With Newcomer Kali Flower For 'Passenger Seat' | Dallas Observer

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How 88 Killa And Kali Flower Crafted a Cuffing Season Anthem

Rapper 88 Killa teams up with Kali Flower for a love song just in time for V-Day.
Rapper 88 Killa teams up with Kali Flower for a love song just in time for V-Day. Shabby Talebi
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Dallas musicians 88 Killa and Kali Flower have dropped a sweet new collaboration. Their new single, “Passenger Seat,” is an R&B love song for the modern age, as 88 reminds the special woman in his life that as she sits in the passenger seat of his car, she is his queen for that moment.

On the chorus is R&B singer Kali Flower, who worked behind the scenes in Dallas-Fort Worth’s music scene for years before stepping up to the mic. Delivering infectious, silky melodies throughout, Kali reminds the man driving that although she’s in the passenger seat, she’s still in control.

We catch up with both artists just hours before the song’s premiere on KXT-FM, and both are excited about their respective new eras.

88 Killa wears many hats in his day-to-day as a rapper, father and car enthusiast, as one would guess from the BMWs he often includes in his videos and single artworks. Throughout “Passenger Seat,” 88 repeats, “We stuntin’ / It’s never me frontin’ / Seat her in the passenger, it really mean something."

“It's pretty important for you to be able to sit in that seat,” he tells the Observer. “As a partner, or in a situationship, or in a relationship, when you're in the passenger seat, you’re basically the co-pilot with me.”

According to Kali, 88 presented her with the catchy line last April, which is around the time she had started working on new music. She had worked in PR since 2016 and had released two standalone singles over the course of a year, including a break-up anthem called “Without You,” which received airplay on Radio UTD, the University of Texas at Dallas student-run, online radio station. She even launched her own PR agency called People’s Revolt back in 2018, with the mission to help local artists come into their own.

Now, after years of working behind the scenes and putting her own music on the back burner, she is ready to reintroduce herself, this time, as the “passenger princess.”

“From [88’s line], I just kind of took it and was like, ‘OK, so we're writing this Bonnie and Clyde storyline, but with a modern twist to it,’” Kali says. “But it's not something that's so obvious that it's a love story. It's just more that you don't know what they are, but they're always there. And the passenger seat just is almost like a throne. That's what 88 explained to me, and I ran with the idea.”

The two have been friends since Kali’s early days in the industry. The rapper was inspired to collaborate with Kali one day after seeing some clips she shared of herself in the studio, prompting him to DM her to link up.
Kali says that the “passenger princess” character 88 broke down to her fell in line with the “Fuccgirl” persona she is channeling for her new music.

“A ‘fuccgirl’ is someone who is very misunderstood,” Kali says. “Someone who has definitely been hurt by a lot of events in the past and decides to push her emotions aside, and disassociate in a sense to where really nothing can touch her or affect her. And now she's this badass bitch who's taking the world by storm, but she'll soon learn that that might not be the best way to go about life. But so far right now, she's just living in the euphoric feeling that that numbing brings.”

88 has been putting out music since the late 2000s and has maintained a solid momentum since. While he’s not necessarily seeking Nas or JAY-Z-level fame, he wants the same longevity in the North Texas music scene, he says, specifically in his hometown, Fort Worth.

Both 88 and Kali have noticed that the local music scene has begun to gravitate toward Fort Worth in recent years, citing music streaming platforms such as Amplify817, events like the weekly techno show Meet Me Underground and venues such as Tulips — where the two will perform “Passenger Seat” next month — as some of the reasons.

“Fort Worth is a place where you can gain real legit fans,” 88 says. There's not much of a ‘go-out culture’ there. To me, it's a very working-class city, so when the people go out in Fort Worth, usually, the event is usually something they've been looking forward to do.”

“It’s got this fresh vibe of all these artists who are young and hungry and ready to just go and get it,” adds Kali when talking about the city. “And artists are super collaborative and supportive of each other. When you go to Fort Worth and go to any show, it's always such a vibe there. The music scene there is just very diverse, very inclusive and very supportive.”

Over the years, 88 has built a rather impressive résumé. He’s won a Dallas Observer Music Award for best EP and has opened for several of his favorite rap acts, including Cam’Ron. As he grows older, he hopes to use the wisdom he's attained over the course of nearly two decades in the game to help put his city on the map, and to help up-and-comers develop their craft, as some of his rap idols have done with newcomers.

“I take my cues from older mainstream artists — the JAY-Zs, the Snoops, the Nases — as their careers long go on, they continue to reach, to reach outside of their circle, and they get fresh, new talent, fresh new sounds, producers, ideas, melodies and concepts,” he says. “Instead of me sitting on this high horse, how about reach out, be a mentor, be cool, learn from them, and we continue to build sounds. And when it's all said and done, I'm still in the conversation.”

The music video for “Passenger Seat” is set to premiere on Feb. 3. 88 Killa will perform at Tulips in Fort Worth on Feb. 26.
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez

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