From delicate cloud rap to hard-hitting trap, Geeeko is a rapper who’s not afraid to show emotion in a scene that prides itself on being tough.
Some have already obtained small successes, spending years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shine, and others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn heads. With this feature, we shine a light on some of the most exciting new musical talents our tiny country has to offer.
The latest product to come out of the vibrant Brussels hip-hop scene is the 21-year-old Geeeko. With his iconic looks and endless energy, he’s the kind of artist that makes a lasting first impression. Having already dropped two strong albums in the past year (‘Réel’ and ‘Irréel’) and racking up views, listens and likes by the millions, he should be on your watchlist.
What kind of music did you grow up with? And how did it influence your output today?
“I’ve always listened to a lot of different things. Every time I moved somewhere, I discovered something new. I was born in Rwanda and then moved to Burkina Faso and then Brussels when I was 14. In Rwanda, it was mostly gospel and church music, and in Burkina Faso, I got to know a lot of West African music, like DJ Arafat or Les Garagistes. When I moved to Brussels, I got to know rap music, of course. You might know me as a rapper, but I have many roots in other music too, you know. Rap is cool, but if I'm really honest, I love songs more."
"Every day I listen to new music. I'm always looking for new ideas, so I listen to everything my managers or producer send me. I don't want to be limited to just one style. So many rappers are limited in their scope since they only listen to – well – other rap."
Where did you get your name from?
"A friend of mine thought I looked like a lizard. I must admit I did not like the nickname at first, but after a while, it grew on me."
So many rappers don't like to use their voice because they want to be the 'hardest'.
© - Geeeko at the LEJEUNE studio with his producer Krisy
When did you realize you might have a shot as a rapper?
"Maybe one or two years ago, when other people started telling me! I had been rapping a bit, not taking it too seriously. I just loved doing it, regardless if it 'succeeded' or not. So when my manager got in touch, I knew this was a chance I needed to take."
Has the lockdown made an impact on the way you manage your career?
“Totally. Before the lockdown, I was still a restless kid who was out to party all the time. My head just wasn’t in the right place. Quarantine made me sit down and make more conscious decisions about the path I want to take in this life. It’s strange to say it had a good influence on me because I'm so much more focused now. Nowadays, I take my time, and I'm more understanding, more patient, etc. If it weren’t for the lockdown, I’d still be distracting myself all the time."
In which ways do you stand out from the rest of the rappers out there?
"It's not up to me to say, but if I had to do so, I'd say I like to play with melody. So many rappers don't like to use their voice because they want to be the hardest. They don't want to lose their street credibility. I don't care about that. I won't even mind making variété (classic French songs, ed) if the beat is fire. If I want to rap, I rap. If I want to sing, I’ll sing. My mind is open, and I can go in all different directions."
I don't vibe with the music I made two years ago because I was trying to be someone I was not. I'll never make that mistake again.
Do you set goals for yourself?
"I don't make plans other than continuing to make new music. As long as you have a good team around you, great things will follow. When you hit a creative roadblock, it's the people around you that can put you back on track. That's why I'm so blessed with a producer like Krisy; his experience and general music knowledge never fails to inspire me. It's not like I arrive at the studio, record my raps and leave – we explore different options together, listen to other music. Human connection is crucial if you want to grow, so make sure you have good connections with the humans you work with."
What subjects do you like to rap about? Are your lyrics autobiographical?
“Yes, most of my raps are. Your goal should always be to have your lyrics resonate with your audience. When you stay true to your feelings, there will always be others who can relate to them. We all fall into certain roles, and I keep mine as close to the real me as possible. If you succeed in doing so, you can look back on it later and recognize the person you used to be. I don't vibe with the music I made two years ago because I was trying to be someone I was not. I'll never make that mistake again."
If you have a clear mind and a lot of dedication, people will eventually understand what you've been trying to say all along.
How has the fan feedback changed since you’ve taken your career to the next level?
“If you reach a larger audience, you realize that your words have a greater impact. That means you have to be careful with what you say! Some people can over-analyze your lyrics; that’s why it’s important to be genuine."
You only arrived in Brussels when you were 14 years old. What does your relation with the capital look like by now?
“I had to become the real Bruxellois that I am today. You might assume I’ve always lived here, but I didn’t. The city has adopted me and taught me to become a local because I never left once I arrived so many years ago. That said, I’ll never forget my roots."
How do you rate the current music scene here?
“I’m lucky to enter the scene during a time of cooperation between everyone. There’s a healthy synergy running through the city now. Frenetik, Krisy, YG Pablo, etc. We all support each other, we all work together, and we all hang out together. Long gone are the days of rap battles between crews from different hoods. That doesn’t matter anymore nowadays. If you’re from another area and I like what you do, I’ll share it. L’union fait la force."
Are there any rules you live by?
"You have nothing to lose by trying. So many are scared to be judged by others: fans, family, friends, strangers, etc. Do you know how an African family reacts when you tell them you want to quit school to become a rapper (laughs)? My mother and I didn’t talk for months, but I was convinced that making music would take me somewhere. Of course, I had my doubts; of course, other people won’t understand you. But if you have a clear mind and a lot of dedication, they will eventually come by and understand what you've been trying to say all along. Even if you fail, at least you can never blame yourself for not trying."