“Who said Alberton ain’t Hip Hop”? That’s a popular saying that the Managing Director and Founder of Lavatory Records, Thato “Tikk’n T-Doe” Keikelame, is renowned for!
As a proud Alberton native, Thato was ecstatic about having “one of his own” for a Lavatory Records exclusive interview; fellow Albertonian Falcone. Named Jacque Moodley by his mother, Falcone is mild-mannered and has an introverted demeanour. Plying one’s trade in the highly demanding advertising industry, as he does, requires one to be calm under pressure. However, do not be fooled by his baby face and laid-back manner, the man is ferocious on the microphone.
Falcone’s rap flow resembles that of Evidence from the US Hip Hop group Dilated Peoples, which characterises his easy-going nature. Most people who are familiar with Fal’ always recite a line he drops in the opening verse of “back on it”, a song by Yanga where he’s featured together with Minus. The famous quotable line goes, “my flow is a boiled egg dawg, yo! it’s hard to beat”. This man has “BARS”…
As one half of the rap group FnM (Falcone & Minus), Falcone took time out of his very busy schedule to sit down with us and talk about “finding his wings” in Hip Hop.
The multi-talented and naturally gifted artist gives us his candid account of his journey so far, taking everything in stride while maintaining his graceful poise.
Gza from the Wu Tang Clan must have foreseen Falcone’s progression, ahead of time with his citation on “Breaker – Breaker”, which encapsulates the man in all his essence:
“The +falcone+ who flies enough birds for the chase
Strictly excel in what is excellence with grace
The significance was not the vocal applause of entrance
But the felling that exits, completion of my sentence
With aging experience, my reason ripens”
Lavatory Records: Where did it all begin for “Falcone”?
Falcone: It all started for me in High School. My “homie” Minus and I were introduced to some dope underground Hip Hop artists such as Jedi Mind Tricks, Masta Ace and Can-I-Bus. After I heard these artists, I decided I wanted to make music that was just as “dope”. I’m still working on it.
Lavatory Records: Apart from the aforementioned artists you just named, which producers in particular did you look up to while growing up and even currently?
Falcone: The artists I just mentioned had a big influence on me. In regards to producers I am a big Dr Dre fan (who isn’t?), Dj Premier and Alchemist. I think you can hear their influence in some of my beats, but I do have my own particular style when producing.
Lavatory Records: You are just about the only Indian emcee that we know personally, do you ever find that as a hindrance towards getting “respect” in the Hip Hop community?
Falcone: I think the Hip Hop community is pretty open-minded, as long as you’re “dope”, you’re welcomed. Being an Indian artist I am often seen as gimmick, but once they hear me “spit”, that idea gets put to rest. I quite like being on the back-foot and proving myself… this is what has inspired me to constantly improve my craft over the years.
Lavatory Records: You were also at work on the yet to be released “The Mixed Race Mixtape” with Minus. Talk us through that interesting concept behind it and why the delays to the release of the project in its entirety?
Falcone: Minus and I have collaborated since High School as I stated earlier. After working on Yanga’s “Tears of a Hustler” album, we decided to do a project together.
This then became “The Mixed Race Mixtape”. Due to a lack of production and studio availability, we abandoned the project although we had a few popular tracks including “The Money Dance” featuring Dro Hefner (formerly Hydro). This lack of resources forced us to make ourselves more independent, and sequentially gave birth to my latest project “Too Many Chiefs”.
Lavatory Records: You’re one of the rappers who delved into battle rap during the “Art Of War” era, Then “Grind Time South Africa” and more recently “Scrambles For Money”. How did that experience shape you as an artist/performer and will you ever get back in the ring?
Falcone: How I got into Art of War was purely by coincidence. I had collaborated with Foul Play (Chron Burgundy) on the track “Felt Like Braille” and he happened to be a host at the Art of War battles. I met SafarI who ran the Art of War league; who then heard my track and invited me to perform. My first battle didn’t end up happening as my opponent kept “ducking” me, and the footage from my second battle against Madd Skabb went missing. My third battle versus Toxic Flow happened when Art of War became “Grindtime South Africa”, and I think that’s when the battle community took notice of my skills. I did two battles on the Scrambles4Money: Draft League Card, afterwards, I then decided to focus more on the music as I started finding battle raps took a lot of my time away from the music. After I release my project, I might consider battling again.
Lavatory Records: Do you see forests or trees? In other words; are you a bigger pictured person or more detail oriented?
Falcone: I think my actual job of being an Art Director and Designer makes me more detail-orientated. Producing my own tracks gives me the control I like and this is where my inner perfectionist can flourish. So detail-orientated it seems.
Lavatory Records: Where do you see the direction of the music industry going, especially with the internet changing the dynamics within the game?
Falcone: I think the internet has made us discover a lot of hidden gems in the music industry but by the same token, people are creating music now purely for shock value so that it becomes “viral”. Making money from music in this torrent-toting time is obviously a lot more difficult and listeners are very spoilt with all the free music out there.
One needs to create a large enough fan-base, which is difficult in this country, to make performing and touring possible. Money can still be made; it just won’t be from album sales.
Lavatory Records: Which artists or producers are you currently working with, and who have you shared a stage with?
Falcone: I’ve kept a very small team since I started making music. I’ve worked with Brainchild of Producer’s Playground since Yanga’s project and we’ve established a great working relationship and after “Too Many Chiefs” we’re going to work on his project, “Coin” (working title). I am also currently working with Uni-Verse of Titustrack Productions. We’ve created one or two tracks for a soundtrack and there will definitely be more work coming from us soon. As far as features on my project are concerned,
my fellow FnM group mate Minus makes an appearance on my project, as well as Just Swiss of AMS Records, Federal Ranga from the USA and local Battle Rap legend Pava Gunz.
Lavatory Records: What has your experience of the South African music industry been like in general? Give us the good and bad of the local industry.
Falcone: Being an independent (underground) artist I can’t really tell you much of the industry first-hand. From an outsider-almost-insider perspective, I can tell it is a difficult industry to crack, and it’s even more difficult to stay relevant. South Africa is still heavily influenced by the American Hip Hop scene and our sound apart from a few artists subscribes to what our American colleagues are composing.
Lavatory Records: Lavatory Records is a “solutions for artists” organisation and not a traditional “record label”. Do you think there’s potential for such a business to thrive in the current music economy, in regards to management solutions and revenue streaming for artists?
Falcone: I think artists of all forms need a lot of guidance. Any platform that provides this is truly welcome. Many artists know how to make music but not sure how to make money from it. I, for one, am only learning this skill now and wished I had some guidance in this regard before.
Lavatory Records: Tell us more about Falcone as a person. What do you do on a day-to-day basis and for fun?
Falcone: Well I like to think I’m quite a creative person. Whether it’s creating adverts, music or videos, I have to create something to feel fulfilled. I have the most fun when creating music and artwork and this keeps me pretty busy. Something else I’ve created that I’m quite proud of is my son, and he fills up the rest of my spare time.
Lavatory Records: Any future projects to look out for from you?
Falcone: The “Too Many Chiefs” project should be released by mid 2015. After that I’m going to put my producer hat on and make some beats for artists I’ve collaborated with and might be forming a new crew with some artists I’ve featured on the “Too Many Chiefs” project. More information on that will follow soon.
Lavatory Records: Any special mentions you want to shout out?
Falcone: I’d like to give a shout out to you Thato Keikelame and Lavatory Records. Thanks for providing a platform that up and coming artists like myself need. The mutual love in the Hip Hop community is real and this bears testament to that. Can’t forget FnM all day!
Thank you Falcone for a lovely chat! Keep up with Falcone and his latest developments on Twitter: @FAL_CONE, The FnM Facebook Group and the Too Many Chiefs Facebook group. Access his music catalogue via Soundcloud and Reverbnation.