Kaash Paige Tells Us How Returning To Dallas Provided The Stability She Needed

When Kaash Paige first went viral in 2019 with her song “Love Songs,” she was poised to be one of the next big acts in R&B. Having found fans in the likes of Don Toliver and Kylie Jenner, she rode the wave and moved to LA, with a freshly signed deal with Def Jam, a vision laid out, and her eyes on the prize. Though the world shut down due to the pandemic shortly after she moved to LA, the Dallas native never lost her momentum.

She frequently shared clips of herself in the studio on Instagram and put out her debut album, Teenage Fever, in summer of 2020. While the pandemic kept her from performing shows and at festivals, her move proved to have been worth her while. She collaborated with some of her longtime favorite artists, including Tinashe, 6lack, and Isaiah Rashad, and even appeared in a campaign for Beyoncé’s Icy Park winter wear line, alongside Gucci Mane.

This October, Kaash moved back to Dallas, with a mission to help put the city on the map, and to realign herself – both with her family and friends, as well as spiritually.

“When you’re in LA, you’re around so many different energies, and so many different people,” Kaash says. “You’re working every day, you feel like you have something to prove, like you have to work every day. I just needed a break.”

Now that she’s back home, she’s looking forward to finding a sense of stability, setting up activations and pop-ups for herself and other artists, and simply not having to “run around all the time.”

When Kaash was first coming up in Dallas as a teenager, she remembers being very sheltered. Much of her pre-fame days were spent sneaking out of her Grand Prairie home to go record vocals and attend shows. Now, just weeks away from turning 22, Kaash is ready to experience Dallas from a grown-up standpoint.

Before moving to LA, Kaash didn’t get the chance to perform at any Dallas venues. In the weeks she’s been back, she’s held a listening party for her sophomore album S2ML, and is gearing up for a tour, during which, she will perform at House Of Blues Dallas.

“I used to tell myself ‘You can’t pop if you stay in your hometown.’ You have so many different people around you saying ‘You gotta go to New York,’ or ‘You gotta go to LA,’ and it’s like, no. Whatever is meant for you is always gonna happen,” Kaash says. “I feel like [being back] out here, it’s allowed me to connect with the people that didn’t get a chance to connect with whenever I was first out here.”

There’s no question as to whether or not her city is holding her down. Promo posters for S2ML are in just about every major Dallas neighborhood, from downtown to Deep Ellum to Lower Greenville. And for good reason, too. Not just because she’s a Dallas artist, but because S2ML is Kaash’s most introspective, relatable project to date.

Kaash’s debut album, Teenage Fever, featured her playing the role of the heartbreaker as she let her several contenders know that she doesn’t have any intentions to leave put her goals or her superstar lifestyle behind. This results in emotional consequences, which set her up for the things she’s forced to reckon with as she grows into adulthood.

This is where S2ML picks up, where she dwells in both the upsides and downsides of stardom and its subsequent heartbreaks, by way of trippy, alt-R&B beats, and dreamy, soft-sung vocals. The album features Kaash tapping into the producer role for the first time for some of the tracks.

“We’ll play a beat, and I’ll be like, ‘How does it make you feel?’ and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, it made makes me feel like I’m lost in space’ or something,” Kaash says. “And then I’ll put down something in my notes, and come up with a caption or something, and that’s how we’ll start off the song.”

This technique – coming up with a short phrase to use for an Instagram caption, and building from there – is something Kaash says was inspired by Lil Wayne. “I feel like captions are where my heart goes the most, because it’s something that people can relate to, and post,” she says.

Much of the album’s lyrics were freestyled, as Kaash says this is how she is able to create something that feels natural in the moment, and reflects how she feels at the time.

“I feel like whenever I write down lyrics, it takes up a lot of my time in the studio,” Kaash says. “And, I get mad at myself, because I feel like ‘this word isn’t strong enough.’ And everybody’s like, ‘Bro, sometimes music can be simple.’ It can be minimalistic, it doesn’t have to be the deepest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. Of course, you need substance. But sometimes the best records come from when the artist didn’t think too much of it.”

A particular song, “Self Esteem” came to Kaash during a two-week period when she wasn’t smoking weed. On the bass-heavy track, the openly bisexual singer recalls a romance where her energy wasn’t being reciprocated.

“I was in my feelings about some girl,” Kaash says. “She was so bougie, she’d be like ‘Oh, I don’t eat chicken. I eat yellowtail jalapeno,’” Kaash recalls, speaking in a hilarious LA accent.

“In LA, I was so caught up and keeping up with the Joneses. I was like ‘I’ve gotta impress her’ and then I’m like, ‘Bro, she’s messing with your self-esteem. You’re literally lowering everything about yourself trying to impress somebody else.’ I’m looking in a mirror, like, ‘Am I not fly? What is it about this girl and why’s she not attracted to me?’ I actually got that clarity from not [smoking].”

Thankfully, Kaash gets her confidence back on the synthy party track, “Awesome,” a celebratory anthem on which she’s feeling herself during a night of drinking.

“I turn up the building, my hair on Brazilian, but you know I’m chillin’ / I walk in the booth, I’m making a hit, just look at the ceiling,” she sings on the self-empowering, club-ready anthem.

Though weed is her venom of choice, Kaash says she enjoys rum cocktails now and then, but tries to avoid Casamigos, which she says is “a crazy drink.”

“When you do shots, that’s when you mess yourself up, and you’re dancing with the devil at that point,” Kaash says. “That’s the devil in Prada.”

Over the past three years, Kaash has let go of her people-pleasing tendencies. She knows that some people are going to love her music, and some people aren’t, but she is at a point where she’s okay with that. Especially as she’s performed with Lil Tjay and other artists, and has heard the crowd cheering back her collaborator’s names.

She also says she has let go of toxicity, and no longer wishes to be labeled as such.

“I’m not trying to be toxic,” Kaash says. “I might just have a little bit too much honesty in me, and it comes off [toxic] to certain people. But I feel like when people call me ‘toxic R&B princess’ or whatever – that was a cool era, but right now I’m in my rockstar era. I’m in my alternative R&B era where it’s like, if you still think it’s toxic, that’s how you perceive it. But I’m not going for that.”

Kaash’s mission is to experience Dallas at the legal age to go to shows in some of the city’s iconic venues. In the future, she hopes to open a lounge-style restaurant from her mom, who loves to cook. She also wants to open a recording studio of her own.

But right now, she plans to work with local producers and musicians, and see what she missed out on when she was younger.

“I’m gonna make sure that everybody knows I’m in the city, and I’m back here,” Kaash says. “And it’s always love.”