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K-Riz has been keeping busy since 2016, which is when the Edmonton-based rapper released his debut album Fresh Air. Now, almost five years later, he’s following that up with Peace & Love, his new R&B-flavoured album that takes listeners on a journey through love and heartbreak.

The themes of the album tread over grief, joy, loss and catharsis permeate the record. Over crisp beats and ‘90s-inspired melodies, K-Riz navigates his path to healing and ultimately helps listeners hear the various sides of getting over someone that come with finding inner peace.

Complex caught up with K-Riz to discuss the process around the new album and the different influences that inspired Peace & Love. We’ve also got the exclusive premiere of the project ahead of its release on September 24. You can stream it and read the conversation below.

What was the most exciting part about creating this album?
The most exciting parts came from the live instrumentation being added to some of the tracks. For example, when GRAY added the guitar to “I Don’t Trust You,” it elevated the song from where Deppisch and LordQuest left off. Also, when Bubby Lewis added a bassline to “The View.” The fact that it was the Bubby Lewis and the flavour he brought to the record was real cool. Looking at how many people contributed to each song, I’m amazed. From voices to instrumentation, it was almost like a high watching these songs grow. Also working with Briley Harris. I heard one of his joints on Soulection Radio and reached out to him. He’s very talented and very fresh. I love the joints we got on the album. 

“I just hope the listener finds healing in the words and the music. I found a lot of healing throughout the writing and recording of the album. It allowed me to be open, vulnerable, and human.”

How did COVID impact your writing and recording process?
For me, it slowed everything down. I had the time to write. I felt like a teenager, locked away in my room, anxious to put the pen to paper. Especially with no shows to prepare for and no band rehearsals and stuff, I used that time to write and unload. Spending time with my thoughts and myself became a priority. I appreciated having that time for the music to be therapeutic again.

K-Riz looking at the sky
Image via Dennis Hong

What do you hope listeners take away from this album?
I just hope the listener finds healing in the words and the music. I found a lot of healing throughout the writing and recording of the album. It allowed me to be open, vulnerable, and human. I also hope that the listener feels a deeper connection to me, and that they come away from the music knowing me a little bit better. I go through the same things and have the same feelings they do. I’m just a human interpreting life’s journey through music.

“I wanted to be as raw and honest with my feelings as I could be and tell my truth. Good, bad or ugly.”

How does this album show how you’ve grown and progressed as an artist?
This is the first album I had the opportunity to act as executive producer. Rather than getting in the way and trying to have a say in everything, I did my best to let the masters do their thing. The way Enoch Attey, who plays guitar on “The View” and “Indulge,” contributed to those songs, could only happen by letting him do him and letting him shine. Also, the musical range was a big progression for me—from full-on lyrical songs to more R&B-sounding ones or being able to seamlessly combine the two to create something fresh. I definitely wanted to prove myself as a songwriter and artist, while also keeping in mind what I can learn by paying attention to how my peers work and how they view and create. 

Thematically, this album focuses on love and heartbreak. Was creating these songs a painful or cathartic process?
Definitely both. Looking back at the process, there were moments where I was saying things out of anger or even revenge. There were also moments where I had to address things that affected me heavily throughout life, to the point where I questioned whether I should be saying these things out loud. I wanted to be as raw and honest with my feelings as I could be and tell my truth. Good, bad or ugly. As I was completing the album, I gradually started to feel lighter. When I listened to the final version of the album for the first time, I could feel the release. It was definitely a release for me and a special experience capturing it. The next step is letting it go completely and moving onto a better and brighter chapter. 

In terms of the ‘90s R&B influence on the record, who are the artists who inspired those sounds?
I really loved Jodeci, 112, and other R&B groups in that vein because the hooks were very harmony-heavy. I’ve definitely carried that into my music and displayed that a lot on this album. Also, the sexy grooves. I love music that you can lowkey vibe to, love to, and ride to.