Entirely produced by Geko, Crate Cartel Radio encompasses everything good about independent local hip hop. This release includes a stellar line up of guest emcees, strategically picked to add multiple elements of class to this impressive sonic backdrop. Over these 13 tracks, you can find some of Australia’s most renowned and respected veterans including Bias B, Bigfoot and Ciecmate, alongside exciting and anticipated local emcees Kings Konekted, Maundz, Jake Biz, Fatty Phew and many others. We caught up with Geko recently to talk about his upcoming release Crate Cartel Radio, two new aditions to the Crate Cartel roster, a surprise new release from way back and lots more.
You started really getting involved in hip hop, digging, rapping and producing back in the late nineties, what was it that first influenced you into the world of hip hop?
Well I grew up with joints like ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ on the radio and having those film clips on TV and stuff, so that was probably my first exposure. I had a friend who put me onto Wu-Tang’s ’36 Chambers’ and also ‘The Chronic’ when they came out and I was always listening to hip hop after that. Late teens I got into graff and stuff. Probably got into the crate digging thing when I was listening to Loot Pack, they were always talking about it. I loved that Quasimoto album too. Other albums that need to get a mention that received quite a caning around that time would be ‘Smif’N Wessuns’ The Shining and Screwball Y2K. Too much stuff has been influential to mention. New stuff now seems to influence me a lot. I’m a fan of alot of music.
When you say you’re a fan of a lot of new music, do you mean within the realms of hip hop, or do you draw your influences from other genres also?
I was talking mainly about hip hop. Obviously I listen to a lot of different genres in the process of digging and making beats. One day when I’m an old man, I plan to sit on my porch and give my record collection the listening to it deserves. For now I have to admit I often just listen for samples. If I’m playing music in the car or if there’s a new release I’m anticipating, it’s mainly been Hip Hop.
Have you been listening to much Australian Hip Hop lately, if so who do you enjoy listening to?
Nah not really so much. I struggle to find the time to check for much new Australian stuff. I copped the Kings Konnected mixtape which was nice and I was feeling that L-Flows & Verb-Ill mixtape. But that’s probably around three years ago now. Maundz – Mr Nobody lives on my car’s passenger seat at the moment. Been swapping between that and Cappo Genghis, and a year on, Cormegas Born and Raised gets a bump every couple of days still. Also from a couple of years back Ciecmates Pre-Emptive Strike Mixtape – probably the other one I got into, the first half of that was especially epic.
Your first official release was back in 2006 with Raven on the “We Are Animals” 6 track EP. It was also the first release to carry the now familiar Crate Cartel logo. What’s been the main evolution at Crate Cartel since that time?
Well it got better. It was more of a production name originally and raven said to put it on because he also liked it. It really kicked of when I started working with Fluent because he’s a pretty hungry dude and proactive the way he goes about getting things done. Discourse jumping onboard for the graphics keeps everything looking nice and consistent. Most importantly we’ve grown the team and it’s now settled at Raven, Fluent, Maundz, WIK, and myself. It’s a good crew and everyone involved is motivated, working and improving everyday.
Two huge names in WIK and Maundz. We hear that Maundz is working on his next album, which will feature full production from WIK. Did you just have to have these two dudes on board?
Yeah. I put a gun to their heads haha. Nah they are both good blokes, we all get along well and I think it’s mutually advantageous. That’s it though we don’t need anyone else!
2009 was a big year for the Crate Cartel, releasing your entirely self-produced debut album ‘The Crate Cartel’ and also Fluent Forms – ‘The Furnace’. Were you happy with the response to these albums?
My album didn’t really make a lot of noise but the feedback I got from it had been mostly positive. Thats really what you hope for with your first solo. You have to build it up. The Furnace got a really good response. Kind of put us on the map as a label.
June 18 this year will see your sophomore production album Crate Cartel Radio drop. Is production taking a front seat?
Well I’m still rapping on it a fair bit. But not on every track. I definitely see myself as a producer firstly and I’m more comfortable behind the boards. I’ll always write verses but I plan to focus more on production in the future.
Tell us a bit more about the concept behind Crate Cartel Radio and what you’ve wanted to achieve by releasing this album?
The concept was formed from wanting to do an album where I didn’t rap as much originally. The whole radio idea is sort of a nod to radio shows like The Formula, that were really important in getting good hip hop to us before the internet came along.
Crate Cartel Radio has been pushed as an album that encompasses everything good about independent local hip hop. What do you find are the most important aspects of good local independent hip hop?
Well, primarily independence. This album doesn’t have any work other than the guest features outsourced. The artwork, mixing, recording, video clips, mastering and production is done in-house. With the team we are working with its as professional as those people out there throwing huge coin at their projects, if not more so. We are building our reputation on our skills not on marketing campaigns or support slots for overseas artists etc. Hopefully in the future all that comes our way because of the hard work we put in early.
Killer cover for crate Cartel Radio, it’s already had such a great response. Do you think it’s important to have a professional looking package when all things are said and done?
Haha. Funny you mention that because it was a last-minute switch. Yeah definitely good to get a professional graphic designer to do your cover ideas. Even if the artist has a drawing, a photo or a good idea, you really can tell if the person that’s done the final layout knows what there doing.
Tell us in a few short words how you’d describe your production style?
Shit. Id say It’s a mixture of classic hip hop production styles I guess. I’ve just tried to break off elements of all the producers that influence me and that melting pots my style. It sort of changes from time to time anyway.
Some big names have put their hand up to be on the album including Bias B, Fluent Form and Maundz, just to name a couple. Whats it like being able to call on guys like these to help out on the album?
Well its new because I haven’t been making noise as long as a lot of the people featured on the album. 2 years ago I couldn’t have reached out to a lot of them, they wouldn’t have known who I was. I’m honoured to have worked with every single person on the album. Everyone of them is talented and really came with some top quality shit. Good people too. Hopefully I’ll work with everyone more in the future.
Now the first video clip from the Crate Cartel Radio was released early last week – Titled Memories featuring Fluent Form, filmed by Discourse and Heata. Tell us a little about the clip, where it was filmed and how long it took?
It’s all just filmed around our way. It was shot over 2 days. But then the editing took a lot more time. A lot of work went in. Heata’s a professional he’s got his craft on lock and gets the job done real efficiently. And Discourse is a mad talented dude. This and the Every Step clip are his first clips he’s been involved with so you can see he’s got something.
What should people expect from Crate Cartel in the next few months, we hear some big things are in the works, Raven’s new album etc?
Yeah. Ravens album next. Ravenous 2010. He’s got it all recorded so wrapping that up next. It will be coming out later this year, as the title suggests. Maundz albums out now obviously, it’s a classic, he did Mr Nobody before we were working closely but he’s Crate Cartel fam from here on in. Fluents staying busy on collaboration’s and pre-production for his next joint well underway.
Also I just found out today we might have an opportunity to put out the Field Trip album that was completed several years back but never saw light of day.
That’s some exciting news regarding the Field Trip LP, how did this opportunity arise?
I’m friends with Aetcix. I mention that he should put it out sometimes when we catch up for a beer. His relenting, it’s a dope album. Thorts was still on a raw tip then and all the productions tight. Would have done really well if it had gotten out at the time as It was a notch above other shit at that point.
Any final words?
I’ll be touring this album with Maundz and Fluent Form, hopefully Raven. Crate Cartel Radio/Mr Nobody Tour. We’ll have more details soon on that. cratecartel.com Merch coming soon man. There will be merch for this album. But our whole catalogues up there basically. Yep. Even just dropping the clip I’ve had a great response so big ups to all the people checking for us. Crate Cratel Radio June 18th!!!. Peace.
You can pre-order a signed copy of Geko’s – Crate Cartel Radio by following the link here.