Out with the old and in with the new! Many people began the year with the theme “a new me” to signify personal change. Although he’s not one for the “new year’s resolutions hype”, 2017 is a different year for our feature today – Crispy T!
The ultra-quirky and industrious dude who was known as Alberton rapper Tikk’n T-Doe, has now embarked on embracing his other alias – Crispy T – as his new “fresh idea”! He is a guy that is an avid connoisseur of apples, the crispness of the crunch will always indicate its freshness. So if it is Crispy, it must be fresh (i.e. he is the self dubbed “Fresh prince of Alberton”).
Interviewing Lavatory Records’ very own creation, is a historical first! Crispy T spoke to us about his name change, what that means for Thato Keikelame and what is to become of Tikk’n T-Doe. He also let us in on The Drive By Design mixtape project, where he will be hosting the first volume. Let’s get straight into the mind of Crispy T!
Lavatory Records: Who is Crispy T, and what do you do?
Crispy T: Crispy T is somewhat of a misunderstood individual on a personal level. My real name is Thato Keikelame. A son, a brother and an uncle to my cousin’s kids! I would describe myself as a self-starter and all-round creative, a communicator and economist. I thrive on autonomy and I’m regarded by many as a unique individual, in that I’m an independent thinker. For an extroverted person – I would say I’m rather low key, which surprises many! However, I have been said to be a man of many surprises. Also, somewhat of a child at heart!
As to what I do? I just think I’ve become an all-round entertainment specialist in my personal capacity. I manage artists, I cover the independent music scene as somewhat of a journalist which I call research so as to unearth industry specific tools and solutions. For all the left brained analytics that I do, I am more of an artist in that I rap, produce, write songs and also currently trying to develop myself a musical instrumentalist. I have also recently started DJing – but it’s not something I want to start doing as a career, it’s just to enhance my musical compositions.
I am basically just a man on a mission as far as music is concerned. That’s the core of my being – all around music scholar!
LR: How did you come up with the name?
CT: I actually didn’t give myself that name ha ha ha! My one good friend Mpho called me that after one of my favourite entertainers who is a social commentator and radio host. I always tended to agree with him a lot on MANY issues, so ever since I started speaking my truth (particularly online), I was then called “Crispy T”. The T standing for my real name and also when I went under my rap alias of “Tikk’n T-Doe”.
The “Crispy” has dual meaning, firstly, it was down to me being the only black dude in my crew at school – the “chimney sweeper” so to speak. Even when I used to share my opinions online, I was accused by anti-social integration pro black online activists who hide behind a keyboard and Facebook accounts, then would say that I pander towards whites and non-black society. So, my “crisp” delivery of facts and arguments seemed to annoy a lot of people (particularly blacks). I was always told to perhaps consider law or politics as a career funny enough. Strangely I did delve in politics for a brief while and worked within legal service in my formal career – so I guess that did manifest somehow.
I just felt that the change of name was suited to me at this stage of my career, as I feel I need to push myself creatively. Tikk’n T-Doe just was not going to aid the greater mission on his own – even though that’s definitely where it all started. Tikk’n T-Doe will always be around as an artistic contributor – so that is not being phased out as such. Tikk’n T-Doe will always be considered as my rap name.
LR: Which artists have been and are your biggest influences?
CT: I would have to go with Michael Jackson when I was a child, as he probably has had the most impact in my life. Through him I always saw myself getting into music one day, although I was never sure how I was going to do it! I was certainly rather too shy to become a performer as such, never really was my thing to have all that public scrutiny on to me. All the things that happened in Michael’s life with excessive fame and the paparazzi following you everywhere, it was for that reason that I never wanted to become a “celebrity”. I did see myself working behind the scene or just a plain underground artists (bedroom emcee as Tikk’n T-Doe).
As a rapper, I would count Twista, E40, Lupe Fiasco, Juvenile, Memphis Bleek, Lil Wayne (old school Wayne not the new autotune one), Murphy Lee, and KRS-ONE as my main influencers. The appeal about all of them would be as follows – Twista with his speed and unique flow, E40 with his unique flow and how he invents new slang, Lupe with his wordplay and lyrics. With Memphis Bleek was his voice and delivery. Juvenile – his voice, his flow and how he coined repetition raps. Lil Wayne – I always regarded as the Michael Jackson of rap from when he was 16, I knew he was destined for greatness. Murphy Lee – very underrated lyricist and he has the dopest punchlines out there. KRS-ONE the great rap edutainer and all round Hip Hop thought leader. I tried to embody all their characteristics as much as I can.
The Hot Boys (Juvenile, BG, Lil Wayne and Turk) and the St Lunatics (Nelly, Murphy Lee, Ali, Kwon) were also quite influential and that’s how I got Tikk’n T-Doe. Everything that has Tikka on it (as a spice) is hot (Hot Boys). the Tics (Then dubbed it Tik) is short for the St Lunatics.
As a producer – it would be Mannie Fresh, just love how he sonically built a whole label when he was with Cash Money Records. Mannie proved his diversity and he is so underrated for someone who’s had a number of mainstream hits. Then there’s Fatboy Slim – he always did his own thing. You could not put him in any category – he just always found a way to play around with any sound and make it hot. I also would say Timbaland with the invention of the futuristic sound and Swizz Beatz who had that latin/Caribbean inspired sounds to it! Madlib would be another guy who I feel is a GENIUS on the boards.
Chamillionaire is a special mention, not only for his diversity as a rap vocalist with the switching of flows and tempo. He sings his own hooks too and is an all-round great artist. I commend him for his business acumen – he is one of the truly fully indie rappers out there, in that he has even taken a break from music to focus on being a venture capitalist. He is one person who I see a lot of me in.
LR: Based on your experience, what are the major challenges of artist management?
CT: Managing artists is a long term developmental thing, it’s not something that should be driven as transactional! I made that mistake which I quickly learned and since readapted when I took on my new artists. It’s all about fostering a relationship, either you click with an artist or you don’t.
A problem I have encountered is a lot of impatience by artists. There are those that think things should happen for them today. Impatience is what causes many to beg for opportunities instead of learning to negotiate from a high point. The high point being the strength to endure – knowing that you can go without certain things, if it’s not to your advantage. Many artists do not get that concept. Hence it leads to them needing the hook up etc, because then an artist would put themselves in a compromising situation just for a “dangled carrot” – it has happened too many times.
LR: If there is anything you could change about the South African music industry, what would it be?
CT: Okay, does removing dusty a** n***as from the industry qualify as an acceptable answer? Ha ha ha ha! But seriously – there’s just sooo many dodgy people that I have come across – not just in music but life in general.
The one thing is SAMRO, I feel that they are not doing their part in terms of collaborating with artists to ensure that artists understand royalties. I’m not talking workshops – I’m talking a system that creates transparency in monitoring royalties in terms of musical playlisting. I guess it is the chief reason why the SABC has halted the digitisation process, thus frustrating artists.
The other thing would be this – and it ties in with my first point – we need men to enter the music industry, not grown boys! These grown boys should stop using the music industry as a way to sleep with young ladies. To all the female entrants in the game, you are worth so much more! Under no circumstances should ladies consider sleeping with record/ music execs as a career stepping stone.
Also, the ‘drug culture’ thing, which is a personal choice – hence, very tough to stop as such. I just feel people who get into music for all the wrong reasons get themselves into such things, for the most part. So, what I will say to that, this industry is a lot of work! NEVER have I had to work this hard in my entire life (school, formal employment included), this is not all fun and games! If you come in thinking it’s a party then trust me, you will end up an addict and having to bum off other people for the rest of your life. BE CAREFUL! If somebody offers you a hit of anything, their intentions are not to help you.
LR: You have collaborated with TNT Records to produce the Drive By Design mixtape. Tell us a bit about that?
That project with TNT is a new conceptual hip-hop/rap mixtape to take someone through the host’s “mental journey” to determine “what drives them”.
I will be hosting volume 1 and will be compiling the project. Just wait to see how the first one pans out.
LR: Are there any other projects Crispy T is involved in?
I will be making a few niche EDM projects – as I feel there’s a market that needs to be developed on the African continent! I started with Crispy’s Caribbean Cruise mixes and hopefully people will started taking to Tropical House, I think it is a sound that can potentially take off on the continent. I do have a Drum and Bass project that I want to launch in June.
The team and I are going to be working on a podcast series for Lavatory Records.
We are also trying to be bringing music to disadvantaged children on the continent and just help consider music as a profession, more on that will be unveiled soon enough as well.
LR: Given the opportunity to work with any producer or artist in the world, who would that be?
CT: Oh man! Firstly, would love to work with Fatboy Slim, Classified, Juvenile and Murphy Lee. Also, The Hot Boys, Tech N9ne and the St lunatics… Mannie Fresh too!
LR: Music seems to be a big part of your life, but what else is Crispy T into?
CT: Definitely Sports! I would be in the sports entertainment side of things had I not got into music, heck I even studied sports management until I decided that the market in South Africa is not worth the cost of the degree. I’m huge into football (soccer) but I don’t follow as much as I used to. Basketball is really my team sport and number one. I do enjoy ice hockey and American football as well.
Then I really love Kung-Fu! Not just the combat aspects but the spirituality of it as Kung-Fu is all about human movement. Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do is something I carry dearly in my heart. Keeps me very centered.
Big pro evolution soccer video game series fan! But I will retire from it when my favourite player: Fernando Torres (the best player in the world) retires. I had one strategy: pass the ball to Fernando! These young whippersnappers will thus catch up and be able to beat me if I don’t retire lol.
I am also quite big into alternative spirituality but I don’t go on about it too much – I guess I’m figuring things out. I will speak about it soon enough in order to help others. Also into social cohesion and just constructive building of the fibre of society.
LR: Any special shout outs you’d like to send out?
CT: Firstly to my tripartite alliance and family: Tre and KING//HER: Love you guys and thank you for having my back! Always got your backs too – NO DOUBT IT’S OUR TIME!
My homie Mpho Hleza thank you so much for the love and support. Always got your back!
Shout out to Falcone, uncle Vuyani Wakaba, Zach Is Nobody, 3PFD, Michael Lambart, Paul Marks, Chef Izzy, Mia Wales, Tatiana Thaele, Eben Meyer, Master Chef Toast, Jolien Van Eeden, Liam Seko, Lilian Du, Amy Du & Nelly Du! Lesedi Lobeko, The China boys (Asian Diaz brothers): Justin and Donovan!
That will be extended to my blood family: Sister Neo, my dib brother Monde, my mom, my grandparents, my uncle Zolani and my dodge uncle Thami! My brothers (cousin): Gonste, Mxolisi, Mbulelo, Andile and Unathi.
Shout out to the whole Alberton area and the lil’ kids from thurrr! If I left anybody out – sorry about that.
Lastly, to my beloved German Shepherd whom I lost last year! Thank you in ways that I can never pay pack. Miss you and love you!