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Calicove is Ready to Party at Motif for NYE

In Clubs, Music

“It was my 21st birthday,” remembers Lindsley. “I hadn’t seen him in like two years. We’re at Rain in the Palms. I’m just chillin’ out, I’m walkin’, and someone bumps into me. I look at him and I’m like ‘hey, what’s up,’ and we just started talking.”

“I really feel like Calicove and our relationship is supposed to be, because all the things that happened between ’05 and ’09, I never thought would happen,” says Williams. “The funniest thing was the conversation at first [in Vegas] was ‘Dude, look what I just got. I just got two tattoos!” Now look at us. About a million tattoos later.”

Other than their shared obsession with getting inked, just looking at them might give the impression that each MC plays a very defined role in Calicove’s rap-rock hybrid. Besides the fact that one is black and one white, Lindsley looks every bit the rocker, while Williams sports a classic hip-hop look. But in reality, it’s much more complex than that. In fact, Lindsley suggested the two-tone-vocalist approach initially as a way to get around the preconceived notions he was coming up against.

“I’m super hip-hop, but it’s kind of hard to be accepted being white in the hip-hop scene,” he says. “Maybe not so much now, but back then it wasn’t as much accepted. I was like, how can I get that crowd? So I came up with this scheme in my head: I wanna make a band like Jay-Z and Linkin Park, and have a black vocalist and a white vocalist. He was already kind of rock, and I’m already kind of hip hop. … Now anybody who questions his rockness, it’s like ‘He’s with me.'”

Williams is enjoying the perks. “I love it, because I can wear the same thing four days in a row, and it’s like, rock star.”

More importantly, joining forces boosted both of their careers far more than they could have expected.

“Our first show ever we did as a band, our mixtape release show, when we walked in the place was packed,” remembers Williams. “It was in Palo Alto at Illusions. I’m talking about wall to wall packed. The DJ was like “Calicove’s in the bulidinggggg!’ They put the spotlight on us, and everybody went nuts. I went from doing open mics to having a huge crowd singing lyrics and cheering. It was like that—instantaneous.”

Since then, they’ve found their biggest following in the South Bay scene.
“It’s been the best,” says Lindsley. “Not that I don’t think we’d be successful in San Francisco, it just seems like the promoters who want us are in the South Bay. He grew up in San Jose, so this is his turf. And I promoted at Wet, so I know all the promoters and the GMs and everybody out here, as well.”

Perhaps their quick rise also has to do with the instant accessibility of Calicove’s music. That they’re both fans of Nirvana is evident in the throwback-’90s grunge element of their sound—the kind of big, hard guitar riffs that seem to be on their way back. For Calicove, mixing them with hip-hop and electro beats for a party-ready musical cocktail is a natural.

“We’ve kind of both been down the same path, in terms of the partying and the women. Our lifestyles were very similar,” says Williams.

“It’s deeper than that, too,” says Lindsley. “I don’t want to glorify it, like I’m happy to be from the hood, but we grew up in a surrounding that wasn’t the greatest. Game recognize game, so they say. Real recognize real.”

Their stylistic differences, though, have turned out to be just as important.
“He’s a lot more smooth. His flow is better; he rides the beats better than I do,” admits Lindsley. “Sometimes I feel like I might be more witty than he is. I’ll say some shit, then he’ll come on the track and say it, and I’m like ‘Damn, he said that shit way better than I did.’ I feel like we’re constantly challenging each other.”

For Williams, who calls Jay-Z “the man I strive to be better than every day of my life,” it’s a little bit like Hova’s recent collaboration with Kanye.

“Jay-Z is really laid back and really smooth. Kanye, the things he comes up with, the concepts of the songs and the characters, this is like white Kanye right here. And I’m like darker Jay-Z. So that’s perfect.”

Williams’ influences also include some family—his uncle is MC Hammer. While their music is completely different, Williams says he’s learned a lot from the hip-pop megastar’s work ethic and drive. But he also takes great pride in the fact that he’s never come to Uncle Hammer looking for a handout.

“I want us to build this ourselves,” he says. “I’ll be able to sit back on my recliner one day and be like ‘look what I did for myself.’ Not ‘oh wow, I’m so glad my uncle is MC Hammer and he introduced me to everybody!'”

“I feel like he’d be successful even if he wasn’t in the band,” says Lindsley of his partner. “And I feel like I’d successful even if I wasn’t in the band. So combined, how can we lose?”

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