I got the chance to speak with up and coming artist Lo Keys from Fayetteville, North Carolina for HitHipHop.com. One may think of a certain Hip Hop artist J. Cole who has already made a name for himself when you hear about the ‘ville. It seems as though they both have a common ground for putting on for their city, making their own lane and most importantly putting out good music. Check out the interview as he discusses his new project “Green Hornet”, giving back to the community and influences.
We did a big bash where we had the djs, the basketball tournament and all that where we gave back to the kids. Actually J. Cole came out and played for the First and Flight team when we did that not too long ago. We definitely are for giving back and that’s what really First and Flight means we’re from the city, we’re giving back and we’re making good music.
Hustla’s spirit from the ‘Ville…
HitHipHop.com: Your sound is completely different from another artist [J.Cole] we know from your city [Fayetteville]. Where does your inspiration come from when you get in the booth?
Lo Keys: I would say my inspiration comes from a lot of different things. I’m really infatuated with art. Before I started rapping I use to do a lot drawing and painting stuff like that. I get a lot of inspiration from different artists like Andy Warhol, Basquiat and different people like that just because they could paint things with symbols that defines something. That inspired me to transition from painting and drawing things into using words. Also I get inspired by a lot of different music, not just rap I enjoy John Coltrane music from the 60s. I like Empire on The Sun, so my music is kind of all over the place. Sometimes you can hear me doing a down south joint, sometimes you can hear me do a east coast joint, a west coast joint. I just try to combine everything together from all the stuff I’m hearing and take it in.
HHH: Good to hear that you are a versatile artist. Now working with other artist such as Rain, French Montana and Lord Tariq explain why it is pivotal to think outside the box not only as a North Carolina artist, but in general.
LK: I just think when you stick to one thing you’re bound to that which I think is good if you know what works for you, for your fans, you’re making money and progressing doing that. Also, you got to think about when you’re doing remixes with different artists. Would you have to turn down a remix because you couldn’t handle that style of beat or that’s not the subject matter you’re use to talking about? Just whatever you are doing at the time I just think it’s very important to be versatile, so you can work with all different types of artists and capture all different types of audiences which is going to bring you more fans generating to what you’re doing.
HHH: It’s been 15 years since the passing of Tupac. What has his music or in your opinion influence done for Hip Hop?
LK: Ah man, Tupac. You can’t even muster that into words, I would say his passion behind the music that he does. It’s inspired so many people, its inspired people from all over the world from all different walks of life because he touched on so many different subjects that involve so many different people. From government to politics, to people struggling, or people in poverty or people living the high life. He touches all aspects with his music being that he was such a gifted artist to basically not stick in one lane. To work with so many different artists as he was working with Bone [Thugs N Harmony], he did joints with Biggie, it’s just such a combination of the things that he embodied as an artist that basically has inspired like a whole culture. It’s been 15 years and people still play his music like it came out yesterday. That’s truly the definition of a Hip Hop icon or a world renowned icon.
HHH: Being from Fayetteville, what do you plan on doing for your city and what does it mean to you?
LK: Fayetteville is really a city full of hustlers I mean there’s not really no where that you go that people aren’t hustling something. Everybody trying to make it, everybody’s trying to get it, everybody wants to be on top. That’s what it means to me, it’s just a city of hustling where people, you don’t necessarily have to hustle drugs. Some people are hustling music, some people are hustling socks, some people are hustling cds, some people are hustling bootleg movies. Everybody’s trying to get it in their own different way and it’s pretty much like that all around the world I would say. As far as putting on for the city, we just putting on for the city making good music. Also we’ve done events where we give back, me and Rain put together an event with a couple of venues out here where we gave away book bags to all the kids. Shoutout to Mistah Fab too because I seen he did it real big over there in Oakland where he gave away back bags. We did a big bash where we had the djs, the basketball tournament and all that where we gave back to the kids. Actually J. Cole came out and played for the First and Flight team when we did that not too long ago. We definitely are for giving back and that’s what really First and Flight means we’re from the city, we’re giving back and we’re making good music. So we’re trying to tackle all of that from all angles.
HHH: Lastly what can we expect from Lo Keys for the remainder of 2011?
LK: Of course you know we’re heavy with the visuals. A lot of videos, you know we’re about to drop the “Green Hornet” project. On the “Green Hornet” project I did a lot of joints with the producer Zone Beats and I’ve been working with a new artist called Live Sosa from Alabama. So he’s been doing a lot of hooks on there. You know we got the freestyles joints on the “Green Hornet”, I got Rain, French Montana on it, Fred The Godson, Me and Young Gliss with Prodigy on there, Mistah Fab is on there. We’re working on one more, I’m working on like one more ace to really cap it off. I say just look for more good music and we’re gonna keep attacking the blogs and keep attacking the streets, the radio. Hopefully by the end of the year this is gonna manifest into something even bigger than what it is now.
Interviewed by Shiyana Bellamy
Conducted on September 14, 2011