You may know her as one third of the popular group Dirty Money, which the world now regards as family. We’ve seen Kalenna Harper grow from an underground writer for the likes or Aretha Franklin & even Slim Thug, all the way to surviving and conquering reality TV (Diddy’s Making His Band). With Kalenna BEing based out of Atlanta, BE Entertained Magazine had to sit down with the lovely and multi-talented singer/songwriter to get her story. She’s in the Dirty Family getting that Dirty Money, so you know this story is one soaked with grind.
BE Magazine – So you’ve BEen a force to BE reckoned with since you came out, tell me how you got started in the music biz.
KALENNA HARPER – Well I’ve BEen doing it for a long time, I actually started singing in church, you know, like most of us. My pastor and different people told my parents how amazing I was and I was like cool mayBE I want to try it as a profession, I never thought about doing anything else after I was presented the opportunity to BE a professional recording artist. Thru my high school years, I quit singing gospel and I wanted to start singing secular music. My dad was like the easiest way to break secular music was to BE like Missy Elliot and back door the game and write for other artists. My journey working with producers and other musicians in the game, they were like you have a gift of writing things down and making it make sense; so why don’t you write for people? I was like this is the second time I heard this, let’s just do; so I locked in with a producer and I think that’s a key thing when you’re a writer and trying to get on in the business is to lock in with somebody and create a sound that people will look after you for. So we created a sound and it took off and I was just grinding. I rememBEr BEing in Rockafella, in Universal with my duffle bag at 18 leaving high school trying to figure it out. I used to hustle up and BE in all the buildings with the A&R ‘s letting them hear my stuff, and ideas…in the studio with Peedy Crack and Lo Skeno back in the day, trying to get on hooks and I was presented the opportunity to come to Atlanta and write for these girls. It was an independent laBEl, and I was like well it’s starting to pay off. I might get my first little check for back dooring the business and writing for other people. I came down here and ended up writing their whole demo package. People were like who is this girl? I ended up getting a placement on Christina Milian from that and went on to Charlotte Church it was a wide range of music I was doing from Christina Milian, who is and R&B singer to Charlotte Church, who is one of the biggest opera singers in the world. It kind of took off from there. Aretha Franklin, Fantasia and then Slim Thug and just went on. So that’s really how I started, I love to do it and I was presented so many opportunities I jumped at every one and gave it my all.
BE – Where are you originally from?
KALENNA HARPER – I am originally from North Philadelphia
BE –North Philly, Wow
KALENNA HARPER – Yes man
BE – My Boss is going to love that, he is from Philly; Germantown. So moving back to music, we know you got some big things coming up. So tell us about the solo project and some of the things you’ve got in stored.
KALENNA HARPER – I am working on a solo project and been working on it for a very long time, back to the long story I told you in the BEginning. Having the opportunity to BE in the group with Diddy has opened my eyes and matured me to say what I want to on my solo project even more. Working on it, I don’t have a title but I do have a concept and the concept is very close to “Last Train to Paris” that’s another reason why I felt me and Diddy fit so well BEcause my visions were his visions especially all at the right time, so it’s a love story about BEing in love and getting to the point when you’re fed up with something but you never know what you got ‘til its gone. So you want to go party, you want to go date other people, you want to do all these other things, but you mess around and lose your security chasing a feeling. So it’s a lot of different perspectives from BEing angry in love, from cheating and BEing in love, wanting to party out of love BEcause you’re in love. It’s a real vulnerable aspect of BEing in love, it’s raw, it’s a lot grittier than the pills that some people could swallow, and it’s going to all make sense.
BE – You need that in your face sometimes. So now you are the right hand girl, BEtter yet next hand girl that sits next to our former cover artist
Dawn Richard. How has it BEen working with Dawn?
KALENNA HARPER – It’s been a great honor and pleasure. It’s definitely always good when other black females can support each other; coming from our different backgrounds and not really knowing much about each other. It was time to grow and time to get together and learn and know each other. Just getting together and vibing from jump, that was mind blowing. I’m like this Bitch just came up in here with these crazy shoes that I love. It was amazing, her voice and her perspective on life is what makes me feel honored to BE next to her BEcause she wants to do a lot of the same things that I want to do I life.
BE – How similar or different are you two?
KALENNA HARPER – We are so much alike sometimes that we do argue. It’s scary, we happen to have a lot of things alike, from our parents, to where we grew up, how we grew up and the things that we do. How we talk to people, how we are always respectful and keep GOD first, those are a lot of the things we have alike, so sometimes we argue.
BE – Hey, that’s human nature, especially when you’re making money together.
KALENNA HARPER – I love it though, it’s BEen really good.
BE – BEfore I let you go I gotta ask, working with Diddy on this last train to Paris, how has it been? Tell me about the man, BEhind the man.
KALENNA HARPER – The man, you want me to tell you about Sean?
BE – Yes, Sean Jean Combs. What’s it like to BE in his family now? The Dirty Family?
KALENNA HARPER – Sean is so kind hearted, very sweet. Sean is a perfectionist. Sean does not sleep. With that BEing said, I had to step my game up. The hustle I thought I had, the know how I thought I had, it’s like naw boo, it’s good that you’re doing that but you always gotta seek to BE the BEst, when somebody is sleep, you have to BE up so it’s BEen brilliant, no words can descriBE having that front row to how the bread is actually made. A lot of people don’t have that so I thank GOD for having that opportunity, it’s BEen dope it’s BEen a BEautiful learning experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
BE – How is reality TV; you’ve got your taste of it. That’s something serious huh?
KALENNA HARPER – You know, reality TV; I was glad that I really didn’t get too exposed. I did get my taste and my time, but it’s weird when you’re walking through the airport and somebody’s screaming your name and your thinking it’s somebody you went to school with and really you don’t even know this person. It’s weird and our fan base is growing every day. It’s something worth getting used to. I would want to do it again, but in a different light
BE – Now, your endeavors outside of music, lets shout them out.
KALENNA HARPER – I’m actually working on a clothing line. I don’t want to say the name right now. I’m really excited; it’s my baby.
BE – Men? Women?
KALENNA HARPER – It’s all of that; I want to give it a unisex feel, and its def going to BE high end. It gives you an all saints feel. I was really intrigued by those clothing lines. BEcause they pushed the envelope and it was different. It had like a western European feel. I love it.
BE – So I’m going to BE at all the fashion shows watching your line?
KALENNA HARPER – Yes, super fresh. Of course I want to make it affordable. I’m also doing community work, nonprofits dealing with lupus foundation. Hopefully one day I can be the spokesperson, seeing as though I lost a little sister to lupus. So I’m definitely doing work in that way. I try to give back to the homeless as well. Some of the stories of people who don’t have homes will blow you away and make you thankful for what you have. So I’m working.
BE – How can the folks get closer to you, twitter, facebook or any of that?
KALENNA HARPER – You can definitely look me up Kalenna Harper on Facebook that’s my personal, no one else answer it is definitely me. Also on Twitter @Kdiddybop. Kalena.com is under construction right now so hold off on that but you can definitely check me out.
BE – Check her out on BE Magazine to, we are going to rep so hard for you; we are so proud of what you have going on. Thank You so much and we look forward to everything that is to come.
Kalenna also took the time to weigh in about BE Mag’s Issue XXV – The DJ Issue
KALENNA HARPER – I actually don’t have a favorite DJ right now, I would BE lying if I said I did BEcause I respect them so much it’s like a craft and even though it’s a part of what you’re doing, it’s a genre of what you love to do but it’s in a whole different form, it’s like abstract art to me. For them to have so many different sounds and songs in their brain and BE able to put it together to make you move in a club. That’s just respect in itself so I don’t have a favorite but I probably should check some out and really BE on somebody’s tip. I do think that DJs are needed in the industry and it’s BEen a lack their of. The abstract art, BEing a DJ means you have no race, color or creed. You don’t separate Metallica from N.W.A. DJs are well needed in this game and get much respect. I was actually at the core DJ event in ATL.
BE – Working Hard, I see ya’ll got it in with the core DJs. Shout out to Tony Neal from Milwaukee.
KALENNA HARPER – Yes definitely, Tony Neal from Milwaukee, he showed me mad love and has BEen a great supporter of the Last Train to Paris and hopefully it’s a good start to future relationships, doing the solo project and all the other things I got going on.
BE – So let me set the scene for you. You’re off BEcause you’re so busy, that’s first and foremost, I know your always grinding. You’re getting club time, you’re with your girls and you’re chilling, you walk in. What would an ideal DJ play? How would you feel? Right now, what’s going to make Kalenna say “YESSSSS!!!!”
KALENNA HARPER – I ain’t gon’ lie, we went to a Jamaican Club; I’m not even talking about a regular club. They had the nerve to play “Hands High…Kill Em with the low” [Mr. Vegas] and I was like yes, this is crazy. Any of Drake’s music, its gon’ make you move right now. It’s actually taking us back to feeling things. Any DJ that can throw on some—-I just love the club, anything they play from Waka Flocka to Drake, Dirty Money, I’m into it.