The Next North Carolina Great: Lo Keys (Q&A)
American Greed (listen/download)
Lo Keys is an artist out of North Carolina who has really been creating a buzz for himself over the past couple of years. He has worked with heavily respected names in the business like Mistah F.A.B., been featured in some of the top entertainment publications like Hip Hop Weekly Magazine, and received kudos from top of the line deejays like DJ Simon Sez. So when he reached out to share his story with the site, it was a real privilege. Find out how he got started, his secret to a good collaboration, and more via his Q&A found after the jump.
The Illixer: What is the significance of your stage moniker?
Lo Keys: My name basically started as a simple nickname when I was in high school. For the most part I was an outgoing student while in school but when I left that environment my focus was solely on my music. Being focused on music requires a lot of dedication and hard work so while other kids were partying and attending events I was focused on the goal that I am achieving today. From time to time kids would try to contact me out of the school environment and I was not available. So people started calling me Low Key. After a while the name just stuck and I dropped the “w” and added the “s” because of legal issues dealing with the name.
TI: What inspired you to want to pick up a microphone and how long have you been rapping?
LK: I have been doing music since I was 15 or 16 years old. My desire to do music comes from my artistic side. Growing up I was really into art. Things like drawing and painting were always on the forefront for me. However the older I got I started channeling my thoughts through music instead of painting. So instead of putting my thoughts on a canvas with paints; I use the beat as my canvas and I do my painting with words. The last two years have really been what most have called my breakout year but the grind has not stopped for 10 years plus.
TI: Who have been some of your influences throughout your career?
LK: My influences have come from various genres of all types. Since my first love was art people like: Andy Warhol, Basquiat, and Van Gogh have heavily influenced my music. Musically my influences are the greats such as: Easy E, Nas, Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G, Freeway, Lloyd Banks, Slick Rick, Kanye West and DMX just to name a few. All of these artists made music that affected my life in some way whether it is a song or just watching their success stories.
TI: You have been featured in several major music outlets such as: VIBE, The Source, XXL, etc. What has been your most memorable feature thus far and why?
LK: I think all of them are memorable in different ways. I look at everything as an accomplishment. Sitting down with you for this interview is an accomplishment in my eyes. It’s really just great to see hard work payoff. Having dreams is one thing but watching yourself accomplish them is another thing. I’m grateful for every opportunity that’s given to me big or small.
TI: There have been a few breakout rappers from North Carolina (J. Cole, Petey Pablo, etc.). What are your feelings on the North Carolina Hip-Hop scene and how do you feel it impacts your career?
LK: Being from North Carolina is a blessing. The Carolinas have a great pool of talent that is really starting to come to the forefront right now. People like: King Mez, J. Cole, and Lotta are really helping to put on North Carolina in a respected way. We are a state that is directly in the middle of the East Coast so it’s hard to establish a style because so many artists within the state are focused on sounding like people from other regions but I believe that the artists I named above are helping to establish an identity for the Carolina’s like no other.
TI: Where in your music catalog should someone who is listening to your music for the first time start and why?
LK: I say start with the latest. My most recent work is always my best because I am constantly improving. I want people to hear the best music and experience the best visuals when I put them out so what better way to introduce yourself to people than to give them the latest and greatest of your material.
TI: You have worked with some pretty big names in Hip-Hop like: Prodigy, Killer Mike, Lord Tariq, etc. How do you go about preparing for such important collaborations?
LK: I listen to a lot of their material. All of the artists that I have worked with from French Montana to Prodigy have different styles so being able to adapt is key. That’s one of the reasons my music has been so successful. I can give you south records, backpack Hip-Hop records, commercial records, and dope freestyles. My style is really being able to adapt and at the same time give people what they want in every aspect of the music.
TI: Describe your latest project American Greed and give three reasons why people should check it out.
LK: You should check out American Greed because its dope Hip-Hop, has great lyrical content, and a great storyline. I like my projects to play out like movies so when you listen to any of my projects they all have a beginning, middle, and end of a story all told through the music and skits on the project.
TI: Where would you like to be five years from now as it pertains to your career?
LK: I aspire to be great. I can’t put a time span on when my greatness will show but I think soon. My goal in five years is to come back here again and be able to talk about the next five years.
TI: Share some of your upcoming ventures that you want people to know about.
LK: American Greed is out right now available on Dat Piff and hosted by Big Mike & DJ Woogie. I’m currently working on a new project right now that it has not been titled. However in the meantime, check out all of my projects on my official website. Make sure you follow me on Twitter, on Instagram, and be sure to subscribe to my official YouTube Channel. Thank you guys for the interview and much love!
**My Two Cents: This was a great interview. I really enjoyed learning all about Lo Keys and his journey in the Hip-Hop game so far. Definitely wouldn’t mind having him on the site again in the future. Be sure to visit some of those links and check out the video too. It’s for his single, “No Love” off of his earlier mentioned American Greed project. -MinM