Tuning in with Leila: Kali Uchis


Illustration by Yasmin Haq

It’s been months since I have heard an album or extended play that appeals to my senses of empathy and serenity. That is, until Kali Uchis released her 10-minute EP, “TO FEEL ALIVE.” Uchis delivered this EP, which is primarily composed of demos due to her delay in releasing her second album, on April 24. This EP contains four songs that completely contrast each other while illustrating one message.

The EP begins with “honey baby (SPOILED!),” a song composed of irreverence and divine vocals. Uchis sings about her desire for a significant other who will “say I’m always on your mind.” Uchis’ songs usually consist of the same lyricism and meaning, but this song is different in a positive way. This song perfectly encapsulates the emotions of a young woman desperate for love and as Uchis sang, “hope this lasts a while and you never turn [into] an enemy.”

Directly after, “angel” compares her love for a soulmate with the infamous Columbian drug dealer, Pablo Escobar, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. The title is appropriate for the way she feels when she is with her partner, “taking me high, anything but typical.” Singing about her elation and contentment, Uchis analogizes her happiness to the byproduct of consuming drugs: a great feeling of ecstasy. 

“i want war (BUT I NEED PEACE)” follows, highlighting the importance of valuing time and self-confidence. In this track, Uchis sings about wanting to “see [growth] into my greatness.” She contrasts her previous two songs’ messages by modifying the focus from growth with a partner to her mental growth as an individual. Uchis is known to be a confident, influential woman who doesn’t let anyone stand in her way, and in this song, she hopes to pass that confidence to her fans. 

Lastly, my personal favorite, “TO FEEL ALIVE,” completes the EP. This song completely contradicts the meanings of the previous songs.  In this track, Uchis sings about the ideal woman in her culture: a demure, dependent woman who has to tend to her significant other’s needs every second of the day. Uchis draws attention to the oppression and lack of independence that women in her household and culture have to live with for their entire lives. However, Uchis sings about her deviance and how she rebels from this “Latina woman” ideal so she can finally experience an ounce of autonomy. This song is my favorite from the EP because of the importance of the topic and her angelic vocals.

This EP combines Uchis’ desire for personal growth and a significant other while describing her loneliness and selflessness. The EP has taught me to seek more comfort in myself, and I’m inspired to become more independent as a woman.