To Houston rap fans, Lil Keke needs no introduction. Being the man who coined many slangs and phrases for Houston rap, The Don presses on with new material. His recently released mixtape Da Leak is the first actual freebie of his career and a prelude to another street opus, Heart of a Hustla, due in October.
Recently the SUC legend reached out to SF2's long running underground hip-hop series Kickback Sundays to select a winner to appear on an upcoming remix of his. After initially selecting upstart D. Sims, he turned around and flashed a grin, selecting Headwreckas member KDOGG as well.
We spoke to Keke while shooting a segment for MTV's Mixtape Daily, and dissected numerous topics including his thoughts on ZZ Top's new cover of "25 Lighters," his involvement in Kickback Sundays (the third season kicks off in February) and the process behind Da Leak.
Rocks Off: Congrats on the release of the project. What made you finally release a free mixtape?
Lil Keke: The competition, well not necessarily the competition, but you have larger artists like Rick Ross who have Drake on a mixtape so that's good for the public, I at least owed it to them. You can't be always consumed with money, you know but I get to the money on my mixtapes so I never had a reason to do it for free. But it's been getting a great response so from here on out there'll be a lot more free mixtapes.
RO: But you still treated this as if it were an album, right?
LK: Oh yeah I treat all my mixtapes like albums, they all have hooks on them. I don't go in and just do raps, I go in and do the songs. That's what make people gravitate to the mixtapes.
RO: Did it shock you when you heard ZZ Top did a cover of you and DJ DMD's "25 Lighters"?
LK: I was pretty shocked they covered the entire song, but I appreciate their creativity with it. Its cool that a new audience will get to experience the song.
RO: Has the writing process changed since those '95-'96 SUC days and now?
LK: No change, I don't have no raps, I don't have no tablets with no raps on them. Any time you hear a song from me whether it be the hits to the smallest freestyle takes about 10-15 minutes, I do them right then. I don't go home, study raps, none of that.
RO: So we'll never see video of Lil Keke on an iPhone rapping?
LK: I'm still old school, I'm still on the paper! I'm still with the paper, still with it. I see the phone thing and I haven't converted.
RO: What made you gravitate towards Kickback Sundays?
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LK: Well I got young fans, I got fans from my era and that's the beauty of what I do and what I've been doing for so long. To have fans 20-25 years old still packing my shows, knowing the songs, I love to catch up with time, I'm not the kind of person that's stuck in my ways, you know "I'm straight screw!" I'm not into that. I got songs with the BeatKings & the songs with DJ Choses and I gravitate to the movement. This is a movement and I'm with it.
RO: We saw you see D. Sims and he was rocking and then we saw how you looked when you saw KDOGG and you got excited immediately. What made you choose these two?
LK: They were being themselves. That's off top. Anywhere I'm at if there's gonna be ten rappers that'll be comin' down, swangin' & bangin' and they're gonna do that. And they won't know that I'm not feelin' that shit at all. I mean, I like it, it's cool but I've done that before. I loved how they each had their own thing though.
I've heard everything, I usually throw mixtapes out, I really don't listen to nothing cause I usually get 7-8 bullshits out of 10. When I pick up on a new artist it's because somebody told me. If I had seen them in the mall I probably would haven't heard it.
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RO: D's more ferocious, KDOGG is more street. In this climate today where you don't know what's gonna pop on the radio, does street music still have a place there?
LK: We don't go nowhere. Cause the street don't go nowhere. You can throw on some Hammer pants, do Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby," all that shit is gonna go. These streets are gonna last cause I got "Southside," "I'm A G," that shit's timeless. Go check all my music, they don't have no dates and times to it. Screw music is timeless music.
Come back Monday for more with Keke.