Artist come and go whether it’s in the local scene or the mainstream but the ones that last are the hard workers and the grinders. One of those grinders is NC spitta Lo Keys. He’s gone from local showcase artist to industry buzzworthy up & comer in less than 2 years and it can all be attested to his hard work.
I had a chance to sit down with Lo Keys and talk about his upcoming project The Green Hornet, his upcoming collabs with French Montana, Fred The Godson & Mista FAB, he also breaks down if he feels coming from NC is holding him back & if J. Cole’s success will help or hurt other artist from NC, R&B singers rapping & more. Lo Keys is determined to show that hard work ain’t ever hurt soul.
You’ve been grinding real hard the past couple of years and a lot of people are starting to take notice. Who’s the biggest star so far that knew who you were before you introduced yourself?
(Laughs) That’s a tuff one. I run into a lot of big name rappers and i would say for the majority a lot of them know who i am. I cant really pinpoint a particular artist that has just outright called me out when they saw me but usually after me and another artist are introduced they recognize who i am and the music that i represent.
Now I know you’ve got a collab with French Montana, off of your upcoming mixtape The Green Hornet set to drop soon, who else do you have featured on that project?
On the project i have a fair amount of artist such as French Montana, Fred The Godson, Mistah FAB, Young Gliss, Rain and there will be a few other surprises when it is officially released. It drops on November 22, 2011. So be on the lookout for a few more big names as the project nears the release date.
What’s the vibe the fans can expect on The Green Hornet mixtape? Are you experimenting with your sound or are you gonna solidify what you’ve already been presenting to the people.
I think i have found my sound and who i am as an artist. The sound i have presented to this point has been working, so you will hear a lot of that. This tape i went a bit more south on the original songs. I have been working with a producer out of Minnesota by the name of Zone Beats. Together we have been working on constructing a artist/producer sound together so you will hear a lot of that. The rest are along the same lines as what i have done before such as backpack type freestyles and there are some dope concepts for other original songs we have on the tape.
Give me 3 words & why that would best describe you as an artist.
Three words that describe me as an artist are Determination, Humble, and Ecstatic. My determination is to not fail at what i have set out to do in this game. I am humble because i know that without it you wont get far and i am always ecstatic about everything we accomplish. Most people may think that artist don’t get excited when they accomplish things after a certain point, but that’s not me. Every time we take another step in the game im like a big kid. The sense of accomplishment is amazing.
Having one of the biggest artist in the game right now in J. Cole coming from your hometown of Fayetteville, NC, do you think it makes it harder or helps you get recognition? Do people automatically expect a certain sound from your music?
I think its great what Cole did, but i don’t think it helps or hurts because that’s him. Its his career, not mine. I couldn’t really tell you if its going to put any eyes on the state or not. I think every person who wants to do music or is trying to come up in this game has to focus on not depending on the next man. The grind that we built with the Lo Keys brand came from hard work so if it fails its on us. I want people to understand that my sound is mine, nobody else.
Do you think coming from North Carolina period holds you back from being fully recognized?
Absolutely not. I think those are just excuses that artist use. Look at what we did in just a short year and a half. We got support from almost every internet outlet and its still growing. North Carolina is a growing brand I think that artist have to use things like being from here to their advantage and stop trying to put the burden on the state. North Carolina is just a state, that’s all it is.
Are you fan of any other up & coming artist?
Oh yeah absolutely man. Smoke Dza, Big Krit, Mac Miller, Meek Mill are all artist that i keep in rotation in my iPod daily.
Now you saw the BET cipher by now, with how flooded the industry is with rappers, what’s your opinion on R&B singer such as Chris Brown & Trey Songz trying to rap.
I think its just experimentation. I believe that when you reach a certain height of fame people believe you can do no wrong. Personally i don’t think they did bad at all. I respect anyone that tries to do something its better then being a quitter.
Does seeing that motivate you to grind harder?
I can’t really say it motivates me. I use a lot of things to motivate me such as Art, Classic R&B, and Legendary Hip Hop. However i don’t want to get it confused im not against those guys doing their thing at all. Salutes to them.
Who are some of the producers that you’ve been working with for The Green Hornet mixtape.
I worked with Zone Beats, Big Rooth and a few others. Zone and myself are really establishing our own sound for the time being so expect a lot of joints from me over his productions. I have also been working with a artist out of Alabama named LiveSosa who is really dope so make sure you check him out on a few joints with me as well.
Do you have an album in the works right now or are you gonna stay on your mixtape grind for the time being?
For now we are just grinding with the mix tapes. However me and Young Gliss have a EP getting ready to come out top of next year called “The Blues Brothers 2012” which is going to be real dope. After that im going to come back with another tape. Hopefull WeUpOnIt.com can have something to do with that.
Already. just let me know and I’m ridin’ with you. Do you have any last words or shout out for the fans?
Big Shouts to WeUpOnit.com for the opportunity to interview, First in Flight Ent, Somethin Lite, Standard Driven Ent, Crawling Hippie Marketing, Young Gliss, IglooMediaBase, and everyone supporting our movement. 1 Love!