Interview By Tachelle Shamash Wilkes
TW: Talk a little about your background in the music industry.
Tachelle Wilkes: Who is Khaled Ouaaz?
Khaled Ouaaz: I'm still asking myself that. I would put it as an ambitious and open-minded young man originally from Algeria, North Africa. His family was fortunate enough to win a Visa through the government lottery program during the civil war there in the 90's. And here I am now, a recording artist, writer, actor and producer.
TW: How would you describe your work ethic?
KO: I'll give you a cliché. You got one shot in life. I came from a third-world country. I was raised in Brooklyn on food stamps and section 8. Bottom line, I don't like living like that so I work hard. Every single day. I want it all.
TW: How would you describe your style as an artist?
KO: Limitless. Barrier- breaking. I don't like to settle for he's alright, but he's not real. My 'ego' days were 5 years ago, but that's natural. If it's good enough, tell me, how could it be great? You know.
KO: I like this story. After writing my first rhyme in 6th grade, a year later, I called up Roc-a-fella Records and Def Jam one night and left random voicemails of me rapping. Got a call the next day, and they wanted to meet me. That's when I met Jay-Z for the first time. All in all, I was far from ready so nada happened there.
Two years later, I joined the street team at the Roc. Best experience ever. Fast forward to my later teens, I released two independent LP's, one mixtape, got some decent college radio exposure throughout the country, digital distribution, nothing too fancy.
TW: What integral role do you feel artists have in society?
KO: I think artists have a very strong role in society. For example, a gangster rapper that promotes violence and makes it look cool. It's not even that, because that could be what he's really living so he expresses it through song. No problem. It's the mentality of 'I don't give a shit about what impact it has on kids, I do this for me.' You gotta care. I told this to my boy last night. I said, if every single celebrity joined forces in the positive light and started their own religion, they would be more powerful than every government in the world -- Power of the people. Nothing's stronger.
TW: Reflect on one real-life situation that has inspired your music.
KO: I met a girl on a beach in Barcelona, Spain one summer. I was desperately in love with her after a year. What happened after doesn't matter, but wanting someone that bad, it motivated me to become the best I could be. I bet the ladies are patting their backs right now.
TW: What places have you performed at?
KO: Off the top of my head, just general venues like Crash Mansion, BB Kings, Mercury Lounge, Bitter End and a bunch around the Tri-state. Also, in Barcelona, Spain -- a famous club called Carpe Diem and Eclipse, the rooftop venue at the W Hotel.
TW: What is the purpose behind your art?
KO: We are all here to help each other. That is what God wants. Peaceful coexistence-- Therefore, I just want to make a difference. You wake up one day, you're going through some f*cked up shit and you pop in one of my songs, and it's just like medicine. Therapy for your soul. Screw my own narcissism. As long as it helps you, I'm happy.
TW: Tell us about your new project(s) and the inspiration behind it.
KO: I am working on a Hip-Rock EP, which is almost complete. It's like a whole new and advanced me. I can't wait to share it with all my fans. Also searching for that perfect band to join forces with -- Developing a few other projects in film and TV as well.
A comedy series called 'Just An Extra'. Right now, I am in Jerusalem, Israel writing a feature length script about a man who goes on a 9-month pilgrimage becoming each monotheistic religion one by one to understand all people from his own perspective.
As far as influence, I tried the corporate world and it was eating my soul alive. My time is my most valuable asset so I quit, copped a ticket the same night and here I am in the Middle East just taking control of my destiny. More relevantly, it's just one further step to where I need to be. My NYC people, no worries, I return in July.
TW: What is the best advice you have been given so far?
KO: No one owes you anything. Not the world, not your girl and especially not your mom. In fact, you owe her. See, I got a marketing degree and I did sales too. If you want something in life, it's all buying and selling. You sell someone on why they should say yes. Most of the time, they sell you on why it is no, no, no. If you don't buy it, you keep selling. It'll happen. Maybe not now, but stick it out. The unknown is beautiful.
TW: What advice can you offer others about following their dreams?
KO: Life is a game of perception, baby. When people say 'if you put your mind to it, anything is possible', they ain't playing. You got free will. Take advantage. Having the ability of doing what you want and not doing it is just like God giving me talent and me wasting my time in a office making somebody else richer. However, play it smart. Take an intelligent risk. It's a combination of time, hard work and pure luck.
TW: How can people find you?
KO: www.rockcityclub.com/lakidwise -- Rock City is the digital American Idol. You should join it. It's free, you can compete for perks or money, and you're 'helping me out'. Don't forget to click 'Become a Fan' on my page. Cheers!