HHW catches up with Kaleena of Dirty Money to discuss her pen game ad writing process.
“Hello, Good morning” – Diddy Dirty Money
“I’m Coming Home” – Diddy Dirty Money
HHW: How’d you first get into music?
Kaleena: I was a troubled teen, I guess. I was a military brat. We was travelin’ a lot, and it was hard for me. So music was like an escape. I started producin’ my own tracks and writin’, and my parents found that it would be a great way for me to just calm down.
How did you begin to pursue it as a career?
I got in with some local producers, but at the time it was just a wave of just long-haired, light-skinned, size 0 singers, you know? So, I was like, I’d rather be like Missy Elliot, and just backdoor the game, and write for all of the artists that are comin’ out and make a check that way, and then I’m gonna have to be heard.
What was the first song you wrote for someone else?
Christina Milian’s “Peanut Butter & Jelly” was my first placement ever. That was the first time I ever even had a taste of what the industry really was, as far as flyin’ out and vocal producing with an artist – that was my very first time doin’ it. I thank God for the experience even now; it was so big, and it was so forward then.
Who else have you written for?
From there I worked with Charlotte Church, then I got Aretha Franklin and Fantasia, and then it was Christina Aguilera, then Slim Thug, Three-6 Mafia; the list started buildin’ up, and it was all genres of music.
How did you become part of Diddy Dirty Money?
That definitely came about from me hustlin’. He was on top of my list to meet and to be like, you know – he was the American dream. So one day I went over there with Puff, and we just kinda kicked it. He was playin’ the “Strobe Lights” track that Seven had produced, and I just started vibin’ to it. It took me like a month and a half to write the record, ‘cause Puff is just so hardcore when it comes to pullin’ the best outta you, but it just took off from there, and I here I am. Dirty Money all day!
What’s the writing process like for Dirty Money?
You know, Last Train To Paris is a love story, so it’s about finding love, losing love and gettin’ it back again. I may go in the studio, me and Puff may be talkin’… It was a lotta true emotions and feelings that went into it. So Last Train To Paris is really our own true testimony of what we went though to make this album. Lovin’, hatin’ and hurtin’ and pain, and all the people we’ve lost along the journey. So that’s really the process, just goin’ in and bangin’ out!
What do you prefer, being an artist or a writer?
I can honestly say that I’m equally both. I think that a true artist can express how they feel very well, so I feel like both of them I equally love. Being able to wake up and having something to say on my mind and write it down, and then being able to perform it, I think that’s the ultimate.
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