If you ask anyone in the south who Lil’ Keke is, you might get a swift leg movement two times to the left and the right as they rub their head to do the “Southside” (“Don’t Mess With Texas”). The legendary Houston rapper is known for being one of the original members of the iconic collective S. U. C. (Screwed Up Click) and assisting in the creation of a nostalgic hip-hop scene the entire globe recognizes. Lil’ Keke is gearing up for his annual 713 (7-Thirteen) Day taking place July 13th at one of Houston’s popular breweries, 8th Wonder, and he wants everyone there.
With over 20 plus years in the game, Lil’ Keke is the epitome of 'Slfmade' and he is 100% behind giving back to his community and providing insight to young rappers on the music industry. Former Mayor Annise Parker proclaimed Lil’ Keke's 713 Day back in 2015 and Mayor Turner presented a proclamation to the legend on 7-Thirteen Day in 2018. The unofficial city holiday named in recognition of the city’s widely used area code 713 brings a proud energy of celebration in the city of Houston through art, entertainment, food, and fun. This year, Lil’ Keke’s goal is to put a spotlight on Houston's DJs for their tremendous efforts to give Houston artists a platform. We got a chance to speak briefly with the H-Town trendsetter about his journey and what event goers can expect this Saturday, July 13th.
Ke’Ke: It’s because of you my nickname affectionately given to me by my grandmother was transformed into Lil’ Ke’Ke throughout grade school, ha-ha. (laughs) You were and still are the glue to a classic H-Town kickback or a quick turn-up at a local club. What are some key ingredients that keep you going?
Lil’ Keke: You know, the appreciation and the opportunity to witness the chance of having people all over the city still celebrate what I did for the cause. For people to look at me as a legend is enough. To see people still coming out to enjoy the music and support keeps me pushing to make it apart of my life and my brand. That’s enough right there.
Ke’Ke: Do you think your sons will follow your footsteps in the music industry?
Lil’ Keke: (laughs) I give them the option to be whatever they want to be. Knowing what I do, they don’t have to impress me, and I say that not with just my kids, anybody. I’m not going to force it on them. If that naturally happens to where they have some type of music interest and their heart is in it, I’ll support them [no pressure].
Ke’Ke: Your lyrics have to be some of the most quotable. Every time somebody says "south side" you come to mind. Do you have a favorite verse from your own body of work?
Lil’ Keke: No, I would say, all of it is in a way that I use to do what I do for some years. [Creating trendsetting chants and the Houston culture drive, it was the objective.] It all just played a part. All of the lyrics paid the cost of what I was trying to do. To make the real culture vultures pay attention to the city and to make people want to do it like us in Texas was the goal.
Ke’Ke: What’s your vision for the management company?
Lil’ Keke: Well, what I’m doing with that is I’m just taking it one- step at a time. Managing anybody’s career comes with a lot. Especially, the way things are today and artists expectations. I’m trying to let the artist be themselves with their hard work and my hard work and a little bit of my expertise.
Marcus Crae is family; I’ve been knowing him for a really long time. He’s very talented and has matured over the years. I only wanted to step in if I could do anything better. He has the talent to do something different and with hard work, anything can happen.
Ke’Ke: How do you feel about the new wave of Houston hip-hop?
Lil’ Keke: I’m with it. Just make it work. I salute the ones who are taking it to the max. I think it’s going up and the opportunities are getting better, that’s a good sign right there.
Ke’Ke: Your music is timeless & therefore iconic & influential. What are some ways you are paying it forward on the Houston music scene?
Lil ’Keke: I’ve always loved 713, my city, and the opportunity to be a legend. Every year we try to do something with the event on July 13th. We bring a lot of artists out to perform. We host block parties every year. It’s overwhelmingly crazy out there. Matter fact, it’s a salute to all the DJs in the city; I just got a few DJs coming out. I’ll be performing with a live band. The event is FREE and there will be merchandise, limited edition souvenir glassware, an art show and more. Every year it gets bigger and bigger.
Ke'Ke: This will be your fourth year pulling this impactful event off for the city (minus the year Harvey hit-2017). What's your drive behind saluting the DJs this round?
Lil' Keke: They always come out to support us rappers, especially when I was coming up. I wanted to change it around and make it about them. It’s downtown for everyone to feel apart. We will have my DJ Big Tho, Good Grief, DJ Mike 5000 Watts, Go Dj Hi-C, DJ SupaStar and Dj Gloss.
The event will take place Saturday, July 13, 2019, from 6pm-10pm at 8th Wonder Brewery (2202 Dallas St, Houston, TX 77003). For more information on the Annual 713 (7-Thirteen) Day follow @DonKe713 on Twitter/Instagram and @LilKekeSeven13 on Facebook.