While the current state of Hip Hop and R&B is at an artistic crossroads, suffering from lack of talent and substance, there are still those who would dare dream. Khalil Ismail is a Washington, D.C. native with a Baltimore City upbringing. There’s something magical about the artistry that comes out of D.C. It’s is the same birthplace of the legend, Marvin Gaye, who is one of Khalil Ismail’s major musical influences.
There’s something special about Khalil Ismail. He is both a lyricist and a vocalist. Khalil Ismail's major influences range from Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, John Legend, and Maxwell to Lauren Hill, Tupac Shakur, Brother Ali and Da Truth. He effortlessly exudes real substance and soul, something today's parroting hiphop industry seems to currently be lacking. Every song, seems to be driven by an inner passion. “Marvin and Donny (Hathaway) had some of the purest voices you’d ever hear. The angle they approached writing and delivering a song, was something you really felt even beyond their literal words. The way they cared about humanity and social issues that still plague us today was truly sincere. Socially conscious songs like “Make Me Wanna Holla” and “Mercy, Mercy, Me” are templates that I draw from. Once Marvin got on stage it was like he was in a mirror. He believed in what he performed. I try not to write, rhyme or sing things that I don’t believe in. Lauren was both a Lyricist and vocalist. Her song writing was amazing. Pac had amazing passion and sincerity. He would speak the truth of both sides the best way he knew how!" As a producer, KI has a keen ear and sense of soul with his sound. He's able to keep his tracks sounding current while borrowing lush instrumentation from yesteryear.
Khalil Ismail’s multitalented inclinations range from music composition, song writing, music and video production, singing and rhyming. His talents collectively landed him performances on the same stage as Mos Def, Freeway, Brother Ali, and international stars like Zain Bhikha, Native Deen , Outlandish and Dawud Wharnsby. His budding career has taken him from the US to the UK, France to Africa, Holland and back. His first release, “The Truth” garnered critical acclaim. His latest effort, “Freedom Fighters” shows growth in lyricism and vocal abilities. Khalil Ismail’s is driven to make an impact on the community around him through his art. IMAN welcomed the crossover appeal of Khalil Ismail at its historical Apollo theatre show, as well as it’s noted Takin’ It to the Streets Fest.
In late 2012 Khalil's single "knocking" charted at number 3 on independent radio. He also appeared on discovery channel using his lyrical abilities in several commercials for the network. His single “Sometimes” featuring Maimouna Yousef tells the vivid story of strength and heartbreak. Songs like “Freedom” led to independent awards such as Music Aid’s Best Solo Artist of 2009. He is currently working on releasing a free album in early 2013 working with former NBA player and current fatherhood activist, Etan Thomas on one of his singles. He also is finishing up a new LP to be released later in the year featuring independent heavyweights, Brother Ali, and Maimouna Yousseff. This LP will be the first album Ismail primarily produces and it promises to be his best work yet.
There’s only one objective for Khalil Ismail. To enrich the art form we call music by making us remember why we loved it all along. He brings passion back to the platform and makes you feel alive again. His real life stories and social concerns interject a genuine air of caring that translates to an added depth in his music. Khalil Ismail doesn’t just sing about improving the world around us. He’s conducted creative workshops for elementary, middle, and high schools around the country and overseas. He’s spent his life working in the nonprofit field. He recently helped open a woman’s shelter and is currently working to expand it.