Dante Knows and Secret B chat their collaboration with Tasker, ‘Caution’

Dante Knows is one of the Australia’s most exciting experimental rap artists. Raised in the mecca of Hip-Hop: Brooklyn, New York and now based in Eora/Sydney, he’s been wowing audiences with his psychedelic rap and indie infused music. From his 2020 released, ‘Laced’ to his most recent release, ‘Caution’ featuring Toronto native Secret B, Dante Knows has been pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a rap artist.

‘Caution’ beings with a tripped out drum line and an eerie synth line, laying the platform for Dante to lay down his varied vocal performance. As he grows through his personal lyrics, traditional trap drums enter the mix. Between his two hectic verses enters Secret B, delivering a gorgeous bridge. With it, he lays down an introspective verse about love and infatuation, a perfect introduction to his growing Australian audience. To get to know the two artists, we chat to them about their newly formed international friendship, what it means to be a multi-faceted artist in todays era and the power of collaboration.

Lots of people use collaboration for a whole range of things. Collaboration for you is way deeper than that. For the sequence of songs you have with Tasker and of course bringing on Secret B now, what things made these people special to be involved in your project?

Dante Knows: Serendipity is what has been controlling us recently. I just feel like everything happens for a reason. When it comes for Secret B, we met via Instagram, we haven’t even met in person. But we’ve known each other for more than a year now. I ran across one of his songs, and it took me over. I went straight to his page, listened to his whole catalogue. I hit him up, saying, “You don’t know me, but your shit is fire, if you’re down to collaborate, hit me back”. From that, Caution was born. 

For you, Secret B, how was it getting hit up by Dante. Was it naturally and organic, or was it confronting at first?

Secret B: It was random at the start obviously. I’m always open minded and flattered if anybody hits me up and is a fan. I opened it and listened. It was super formal too, with the whole process of the track. Right away I was caught. It’s a style that’s new to me, in terms of working on. I didn’t know if I could do it, but I thought the song was really great. I’m super grateful it worked out.

How important do you think that guitar led bridge was in the creation of making the song as good as it sounds now?

Dante Knows: The funny part about that area is that we started making an entire alternative album and making elements of songs that happen for no reason. Normal people would have three choruses, everything set up traditionally. We wanted to really go against the grain. That’s where me and Tasker stand. Always pushing the boundaries and pushing a new sound. Everyone is squeezing lemons, but who is squeezing apples?

Your collaborations with Tasker started off with ‘Laced’ and now ‘Caution’. Why did it make sense for ‘Caution’ to come next?

Dante: Laced was the taste of the world we were going into. ‘Caution’ is another step into that world. A deeper step into that world. It’s another taste, getting to see a first glance. Importantly as well it gave my audience a chance to be introduced to my first collaboration with Secret B, giving a glance into our new style.

What do you feel about the term rapper? You obviously use rap tropes in your music, but you’re really pushing the boundaries of what rappers typically do.

I feel like with what we are doing now. I want to break away from the title of rapper. I did start off rapping, so I always felt a little weird hearing that now. I started realising that with the music I was making, I can’t tell people I’m not a rapper, if I’m doing rap. I really had to dive into something that is me, that people will understand. I feel like I’m still also trying to push the narrative of what a rapper is, I’m still technically rapping.

Do you see a disconnect between Sydney’s band scene and hip-hop scene? They’ve been working separately for a while. With this collaboration and bringing Secret B into the mix, is there a conscious impact you’re trying to make by cross pollination through collaboration?

100%. It’s the main thing Australia is missing, good collaboration. There are so many boxes you have to tick as an artist. To me, it’s such an alternative place, and so accepting of alternative music. But audiences box in their own people and what comes out. I see artists like Kid Cudi here, and we love them. But someone of there own people doing it, they reject it. It’s a complicated relationship. 

Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS

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Parry Talks, and also writes.