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How Cato Got His Groove Back

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E-D-M not R-A-P

Photo credit: Freddy D'Angelo
Photo credit: Freddy D’Angelo

Ever since Vanilla Ice sent word to your mother, the criticism of white rappers has most commonly been a lack of self-awareness. Louisville-based rapper Calen Schaeffer, better known as Cato, swings pretty far in the other direction.

“I’m just like every other white rapper,” he says. “I’ve got a day job. I’ve got a wife. I’ve got a ten-month old kid.”

And that awareness goes further than some polite self-effacement in a phone interview.

“When I first started doing hip hop, I did the very heavy hip hop beat, rap-beat type music,” he says. “Even then, I felt like I was being sucked into doing something that I wasn’t exactly comfortable with. I grew up around rap. I had black friends that were heavy into gangsta rap. For me to do it, I wouldn’t have had that sound to fit in. As a person, it wasn’t who I was. I would have been creating a false persona to fit in.”

Once he figured out who he wasn’t as an artist, Cato started going to a lot of live shows to see what else was out there and how he could set himself apart.

“Is it going to be your words?” he asked himself. “Probably not. There’s a lot of good rappers out there. Is it the beats? Probably not. Cause everyone wants to be a rapper.”

But then while searching the online databases of beat-makers hawking their wares, he found a producer in Belgium making uptempo, poppy beats that hewed towards the world of electronic dance music. Cato, who had always liked the dance scene, found his sound, as well as a way to overcome the showmanship problem that many emcees struggle with—“15-20 minutes of someone walk back and forth with a microphone,” Cato says.

But, “When that style of beat making came into my life, it gave me the best way to be a showman,” he says.

His current recording, the Go For Broke EP, makes that pretty clear. Songs like “Go For Broke,” and “Star Gazing,” sound pre-club-remixed. The half-time bump of “Where’d You Go,” is endless head-bobbable. The live-potential drips from the speakers.

Cato is currently bringing pushing that live ethos on his first national tour, which will bring him through the Rogue Valley for a show at The Haul in Grants Pass on Friday, July 3.

“I think music is live,” he says. “It’s best in a live setting.”


Cato, with Kyle Lucas, Nate Milliyunz, DJ Von

8pm, Fri., July 3

THe Haul, 121 SW H St., Grants Pass



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