Kali writes and produces most of her own music. She was introduced to music at a young age, when raised in the Alexandria school system, culminating in graduating from T. C. Williams High School, and began playing saxophone and piano as a teenager. She experimented with music production and video editing in high school and released her official debut mixtape, titled Drunken Babble on August 1, 2012. The mixtape was described as “genre-defying” and was noted for its influences from doo-wop, reggae, and early-2000s R&B. Uchis really liked jazz and played the saxophone. Some of her influences include Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
Uchis began collaborating with rapper Snoop Dogg on the song “On Edge”, from his 2014 mixtape That’s My Work 3.That same year she debuted her first ever in-studio performance of “Never Be Yours” on the music podcast Kinda Neat. In February 2015, she released her first studio project, which is her first EP, titled Por Vida. The EP was also released for free on her website. Por Vida features production from Alex Epton, Diplo, Tyler, the Creator, Kaytranada, BadBadNotGood, and others.
In October 2015, Kali Uchis embarked on her first tour with Leon Bridges, touring through the United States and parts of Canada for a month.
Uchis was featured on the track “She’s My Collar” from virtual band Gorillaz’ fourth studio album Humanz, as well as on the bonus track “Ticker Tape”.
On May 22, 2017, Uchis released “Tyrant” featuring Jorja Smith, the first single from her upcoming debut studio album. On June 20, she announced her first headlining tour, a North American tour to support the upcoming album. The tour will take place from August to October of 2017, starting at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, with a stop in Montreal during POP Montreal International Music Festival.