Diddy-Dirty Money singer Kalenna Harper was brought up in West Philadelphia as a military brat, moving out after graduating with nothing but a plastic bag to pursue a career in music. Singing gospel professionally from the age of nine, she opened big radio shows on Sunday mornings; by 19 she was songwriting for Christina Milan, and has since moved on to artists such as Charlotte Church, Aretha Franklin, Fantasia, Slim Thug and Three 6 Mafia. Already bagging four Russian Grammy Awards, Kalenna is proving to be an unstoppable force in the music world. Talking big and small bucks, Flavour gets down to business with Kalenna…
Bringing in the dough
I worked in a bakery for my first job. I was making bread and designing cakes. It was ridiculous, I had to get up at 4am and do double or triple shifts sometimes. You’re like popping bread in these huge ovens, or climbing in the freezer, it was just crazy. I was 19/20, sitting there complaining to my manager saying, ‘Bitch, I’m going to be on TV one day.’ She just laughed and thought I was crazy; so did my mum, she thought I was bipolar. My last job ever, I was a maid, a janitor at a YMCA, with a big trash can, cleaning floors and toilets. Everybody has to work. It was a nice little hustle too; I think I was making $20 an hour back then.
Mum knows best
My mum gave it to me. Your management or business manager, they’re speaking from more a business level. My mum though, she’s just like, ‘Put your money in the bank, don’t spend that money.’ If she can get it for you, or you can get it for cheaper, she will always find a deal somewhere; I don’t know how she does it. Just simple things like grocery shopping, using coupons, or a cheaper place to get it; she’s amazing. Between the two of them, Tricky and Tony, they are two of the smartest most brilliant people you will ever meet when it comes to just knowing people’s personalities. They know the business. They know the contract. One is like a lawyer and one is a people-reader, so the two of them can just body up. They are also good at giving advice; they think about things. They don’t do anything out of desperation; I don’t care how much money it is. It could be $200,000; it’s not about the money for them, it’s about the bigger picture. Sometimes you take a lot of money, but you get short results, and sometimes you take the little money and get longer results and more money at the end.
The real deal
My mum and my dad were pioneers. My parents taught us to shoot for the stars, that we could be successful, to always take our time and know what our next step is. I have horses, I have children that have to go to college and have a good education. It’s not about partying or drinking or losing yourself. Being a businesswoman comes from being a realist.
Living off the land
Some haven’t all been great. I’ve brought real estate and property, but just land mostly. Dirt is my favourite thing. Some other investments have been other artists. The most profitable and solid investments have been my houses and land that I’ve bought. I want to buy as much land as I can possibly buy. I’ve got a good 60 acres at the moment spread out, and five properties between Texas and Georgia. In Texas I have a whole ranch, which is ridiculous. We have three properties in Texas.