Kelakovski is reppin’ the U.K. with some sharp, heavy beats tailored toward the indie end of the hip hop spectrum. The talented producer has worked with some of the more reputable and political MCs we have to offer such as Lowkey and Skrein (Foreign Beggars), but don’t assume he’s Russian from the moniker, “I came up with the name by combining my surname (Kelleher) with a classical musicians name (Tchaikovsky) & came up with Kelakovski!… and no… I’m not Russian!”…
This boy is straight outta Birmingham, a city that’s been churning out a quantity of midlands talent in recent years (Look at Moorish Delta 7) “To me UK hip-hop is UK hip-hop… there’s a lot of talent coming from all over the UK & the scene is growing by the minute so its only a matter of time before we get as well established as US hip-hop!”
Kelakovski’s beat making practices are so unpretentious that he even posts up step-by-step videos on his well-visited Myspace page, “Myspace has helped me a lot…it has helped me contact certain artists and also get my music heard. It’s very useful for up and coming artists to help promote their music. A lot of artist’s have become successful from being on Myspace”.
Considering he’s only 19, it’s concerning that the average work-span of talented producers are similar to that of premier league footballers: it’s a genius that comes at an early age and so often passes and is put to early retirement.
“I don’t think a producer can ever reach a level where they can say they are at their peak… there’s always new things to learn and new people to work with. I can’t see my self doing anything other than music. If it weren’t for music I’d be a bum for life! I’m not exactly making much money from it but making beats is what I love doing… it’s my life! So I’m definitely going to pursue my career as a producer.”
Kela’s tendency to work with the political elite leads me to question where his motivation comes from. Is it simply a vehicle for artists to convey controversial messages through rap?
“I think it is good that rappers like to send messages through music, Lowkey is a very talented and intelligent rapper that likes to get his point across through his music…I’d much rather listen to that than someone rapping bout being a gangster & having guns & sipping on Crystal!”
Kelakovski’s inspirations come from varied places and through many producers, Kela counts RZA as one of his heroes, can we then expect a version of ‘The World According to Kela?’“I love hip-hop no matter where it’s from as long as it’s not cheese! A group I’m really feeling at the moment are Tragic Allies from Boston USA… in my books they are the next best thing so remember that name! I’ve always listened to a lot of US hip-hop…that’s where it all started for me, if it weren’t for Wu-tang, Mobb Deep, Nas, Jay-z etc…I wouldn’t be doing what I do today!”
Considering the UK production game, which is spurring out as many heat makers as top bar spitters, who would Kelakovski say is on top of his game? “UK producers, I have to say my boy Sivey! He is one of the best beat makers I’ve ever heard! He’s helped me a lot in the past so I’ve got to give props to him, DJ Mentat is another genius! He inspired me a lot & gave me a lot of wise words so props to him too! Also Jehst, Harry Love, Dag Nabbit, Chemo, Lewis Parker, DJ Snips, S-type …the list could go on forever. Producer outside the UK would have to be DJ Premier. He is a very big inspiration to me.”
For the time being, Kela is helping to put Birmingham on the map, and winging his way around the Poisonous Poets posse, appearing of one of the most anticipated releases from PP member Doc Brown…
“Well at the moment I’m concentrating on working with as many artists as possible to try and get my name heard. I have just finished a track with Doc Brown for his new mixtape ‘Citizen Smith Vol.2’ and currently working a lot with Skrein. I’ve got a few tracks finished already and they’re sounding big! I’m maybe looking to do an album with Skrein in the near future so keep your eyes and ears peeled! I’ve delayed releasing anything of my own for a while… but I am looking to get an album out next year. I can’t promise anything yet, but hopefully I’m going to feature a lot of big UK names and hopefully some US names too!”
Kelakovski’s beats aren’t some half-hearted stabs at beat making; they are productions of epic proportions fusing a plethora of orchestral sounds with an intensity that is often required in contemporary hard-knock British hip-hop. Meticulously carving out his own sound is something Kela is certainly within reach of. So his future perhaps rests on what artists and genres he chooses to transcend… “I would like to work with anyone who respects music and has talent. Also I want to work with up & comers, its all about bringing the talent through and giving people their chance to get heard! New artists or producers you definitely have to be patient, and just never give up. If you have a dream just go for it!”
Wise words from Kela, who most certainly deserves a space to shout out, as these guys tend to enjoy doing, think of it as a metaphorical CD sleeve…
“I’d like to big up everyone who supports me & helps me out! Sivey, DJ Mentat! I’d like to thank Rachel for this interview! Shout out to all the people I’ve worked with Skrien, Doc Brown, Lowkey, Capriciouz, Ill City, Raul Supreme, Figaro, Tragic Allies, CVR, Brigzy, Myst! Big up my designer Hardsy, look out for his work! Big up munch… And thanks to all the people that take time to listen to my music!! Keep a look out for my album in the near future!”
Written by Rachel White