(AllHipHop News) Houston, Texas rapper and original Screwed Up Click member Lil' Keke spoke with AllHipHop.com on Wednesday (October 3) about his upcoming mixtape, Da Leak, and official album, Heart of Hustla. The Texas representer shared his thoughts on building his brand over 12 mixtapes and albums and embarking on his new label, 7Thirteen.
"This is my first free mixtape, man," Lil Keke explained to AllHipHop.com in an exclusive interview. "It's not a horrible thing, but I'm not in a situation where I have to do mixtapes. First of all, my mixtapes are kind of different. Most of them they are like albums, they have original beats and some have mixtape beats, but the quality of it is something different because I treat the quality of mixtapes like it's an album.
"I don't just get on the song and be rappin, rappin, rappin 'bout the same thing. I make a song on each beat, no matter if it's my beat or another person's beat, I kinda make it into a whole song. Most of the time when people get a Keke mixtape, they think of it as a CD or an album, so I don't have any reason to do it for free."
Lil' Keke told AllHipHop.com that Hip-Hop fans would be surprised to find that some parts of Texas have shows that bring out over 3,000 people regularly, as the Lone Star State boasts one of the largest Hip-Hop audiences in the United States with respect to purchasing albums.
Explained Lil' Keke, "I do a lot of shows in Texas, real real big shows. You would be surprised at some of the places that you haven't even been before with 3-4,000 people, or 4-5,00 people. Texas is big like that.
"My start into the game was pretty underground; it was straight underground and was during the DJ Screw era, and that was when he was becoming really popular in the '96 or '97 era. Around that time, we had an underground base of maybe 20-30,000 fans, true underground fans, and we were really doing those kind of numbers. And then my first CD, Don't Mess with Texas, came out in 1997, and I did over 100,000 and started my independent career."
Throughout his 10-year career, Lil' Keke has signed three deals and worked with Jam Down independently, the mid-major Koch (now called E1 Music), and a major deal through Universal.
"Through three deals, I've sold over a million records independently. I started my own team called 7thirteen, a way to say my area code, 713, and I started it with a mixtape series. By the time I got to mixtape number five, I had sold or had 100,o00 downloaded. I turned it into a label and a movement, and 11 mixtapes later with number 12 - Heart of a Hustla - I'm dropping the first real album from my new label."
Lil Keke's Da Leak is currently available online, and his album Heart of a Hustla releases October 22.