Lil' Keke has earned his hip-hop stripes. Seventeen years ago, the Houston rap scene was pretty self-contained. The most notable collective in the city was DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click and Keke was one of the first at the helm of the H-Town movement, solidifying the Click’s place in hip-hop.

Pioneers like Lil' Keke came in with an attitude, dropping his debut album, ‘Don’t Mess With Texas,’ in 1997. In 2014,  the southern spitter is still focused on repping for his city. “They call me the SUC captain,” he tells The Boombox. “I’m day one, so I represent a sense of where our culture came from, where this talk came from. I created a lot of this talk and I stand as a pioneer in it, that’s how I’m able to survive 25-plus years later, because of the groundwork that I laid two decades ago.”

With the upcoming release of his fifth project titled ‘Money Don’t Sleep,’ Keke brings in a number of big names from the commercial set even as he pledges to maintain his Houston roots. The LP, set to arrive on May 27, will feature a number of guest appearances from Kirko Bangz to 2 Chainz. The Swishahouse signee vows that his core audience -- fans of his since day one -- will appreciate the breath of fresh air. It would seem that it was all meant to be as some of the guest verses fell into his lap, so to speak. “When I did the song with 2 Chainz, I actually got the song with Yo Gotti in the same 30 minutes,” he explains. “He was just across the hallway in another room, so I got two big features at the same time.”

“It was a beautiful thing,” Keke adds. “I didn’t know he was even there -- I called him, Drumma Boy was working on the track and he was like ‘Man, Gotti across the hall.’ So while 2 Chainz was laying the hook on it, we sent another copy across to Gotti who laid his verse and sent it right back. ”

In the months leading up to ‘Money Don’t Sleep,’ the H-Town legend has prepared a series of sorts titled ‘Album Before the Album.’ “It’ll give you a feel for what the album will be,” Keke shares. “The first one has five new unreleased songs on it, four or five extra tracks blended together just to give you a sample. The album’s gonna be big.”

After having been a part of the industry for close to two decades it proves beneficial to switch things up periodically, recruiting noteworthy features and producers, just to stay fresh for the fans. However, sometimes that idea can backfire. Is that ever a concern for the self-proclaimed Don? “I stay grounded in everything I’m doing,” he admits. “But it’s just a maturation process of me reaching out.”

“A lot of these people that I’ve named,” he continues, “It’s not like I’m reaching out tryna get famous. They’re reaching out to me too, from an OG’s standpoint like, ‘Ke, let’s do some music. Let’s freshen up the album with some new stuff...’ So I’m just grinding. I’m still grounded to my fans but you can’t please everybody. My core fans? I think they’ll be satisfied.”

Seems like as long as money doesn’t sleep, neither does Lil' Keke the Don.

Watch Lil' Keke's 'Worry About You' Video Feat. Kirko Bangz

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