Keeya Keys, the name that took everyone by surprise earlier this year with his viral hit ‘RUUD’! Posing as one of the UK’s next rising stars, the North London native took the nation by storm with his intricate wordplay, explosive punchlines and infectious melodies! Formally known as Keys Hecate, Keeya Keys isn’t as new as some of you may think; you may recognise the rising star from NSG’s ‘Westwood Crib Session’ or maybe from his [email protected] back in 2018 – just to name a few!
Having turned over a fresh slate, Keeya Keys is back with a bang and is ready to shake up the UK Rap game! Following the release of ‘Your Loss’, ‘RUUD’ and his ‘T90 Freestyle’ – we caught up with promising star and asked him the following questions…
So, you grew up in North London! For a lot of people, you are new, but you have done music previously! Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how music started to move its way into your life?
I have always loved music from young! I have always been around it; my Mum has a lot of records, I grew up on Soul, Jazz, Funk and Reggae – I have always been influenced by a lot of cultures musically! I went to school and met who are now my best friends – the whole of NSG, and we started making music together at around 14/15. From there, they obviously pursued it and I took a back seat and now I’m here to step on everyone’s necks! *laughs*
You are known for playing football as well and you include this a lot within your bars. What made you transition from playing football to hitting the booth?
Of course! Honestly, I wasn’t quite good enough to be a footballer, I didn’t quite have the drive!
Oh, did you have one of them bad knee’s?! *laughs*
I mean… *laughs*The worst thing is, I genuinely had a knee injury! It wasn’t just that though, I fell out of love of playing it every day and being involved with football every day. I had to find something else that I was really passionate about and music has always been there, so it made sense for me to follow through and get in there!
You have burst onto the scene this year and gained insane views! However, you originally ran with a different name and have since changed things up! Did you feel like a re-brand and fresh slate was needed?
Yeah definitely! I was known formally as Keys Hecate but that was when I was rapping for fun, straight Grime, writing lyrics and recording! When I became an artist, I had to sit back and think about people searching my name – it’s not an easy thing to spell! I couldn’t just be Keys because people will be searching and finding locksmiths! *laughs* I needed to find something! My name is Keeya originally, so Keeya Keys just made sense!
Yeah, it’s kind of catchy as well init!
Yeah! It rolls off the tongue man!
So, what did you want to do differently this time around? You are very versatile!
Yeah! I spent a year just watching, going to the studio and sitting in sessions and just taking in as much as I could! When I felt that I had enough knowledge and enough understanding, I just thought I am going to hit it in every way I can and that’s what I did!
Okay, this one usually throw’s people off…
Throw me off!
Describe your sound in three words…
Ooo!! Okay one sec…hmm! Vibes is the first one! Energy is the second one! Slapeens is the third one! The music is SLAPPING! *laughs* When you hear a Keeya Keys song just know the song is going to be slapping!
Yeah well, we already know that anyway! Look at you! *laughs*
*laughs* You’ve got to big yourself up!
We can’t not talk about ‘RUUD’ – One of the keys things that I saw a lot of people picking up on was your wordplay and punchlines! It’s one of those songs you have to listen to a few times to pick them all up – Where did you learn this trait in your artistry? Is it something you’ve naturally worked on over the years or were there certain artists you would listen to growing up that influenced that?
Yeah! I have been influenced by a very lyrical side of Grime. When I was younger, I always used to take in the most lyrical guys and resonate with them. I have always been quite good with words; I was always good at English in school – writing has never been the hardest part for me! The hardest part for me is getting the vibe, I can write a verse in 5 minutes and spend 30 minutes trying to get the chorus – that’s where I’m at! Writing has always easy for me, I have always enjoyed putting in little presents for people that want to dive a bit deeper into it!
Did you ever anticipate how big this single would get?! It was all over the TL!
No! When I first made the song, it wasn’t my favourite at the time, I didn’t connect with it! As soon as the mixand master came back and I played it through the speakers at the studio, I was like ‘Yep, we’ve got a banger!’ *laughs* It started to make sense; it is all about doing the right things to make everyone hear it. We did the right things and it has done the right things for me!
You followed through with the ‘T90 Freestyle’ – another banger!
I feel like this interview is just me gassing you up the whole time! *laughs*
Do you know what, I am not complaining! *laughs* Keep giving me free gas, I don’t mind!
Like I said before, you are very versatile artist and that also shows in ‘Your Loss’ as well! What other directions could we expect to hear you on sonically? We cannot put you in one box, it doesn’t even feel right calling you a rapper!
Yeah! I know what you mean! I would label myself as a rapper but there are also other sides to me so I would say I am an artist. In terms of sonically, at the moment, the amount of songs we have stacked up of different genres I genuinely couldn’t tell you which direction I am going in!
I am always experimenting in the studio, that’s my favourite thing to do; get in there and do something completely different. You are going to be hearing a lot of Afrobeats from me because that’s a culture I am around a lot. You are going to be hearing Grime and Drill! Don’t be surprised if you hear me singing – I am going to try! With music, it’s all about freedom and creative expression, you just want to be able to do whatever you feel like doing on the day! That’s what I always try and do and not put limits on myself!
Have you got some songs for us ladies in the line up?!
Of course! C’mon! We have got everything! I am not just a ‘Spin it, pull it, I shot my shot like a bullet!’ We have got some nice smoother ones, I have got one called ‘Mangala’ that you will be hearing in the future!
So, as of right now we don’t have any collaborations! Can we expect any? Is there anyone you’ve always wanted to work with from the UK or overseas?
Yes! There are two people in the UK that I would do anything to work with and they are J Hus and Skepta! Those two have really influenced me – you can kind of hear it in my music, I think! I grew up on Skepta, Hus is a bit different and is more of a new inspiration to me – they are both very talented artists that I would love to work with!Don’t be surprised if you start seeing a few features in the future! For now, we are trying to build the brand, once the brand is built, you’ll see! We have got big plans!
Another part of you that people also love; not just your music but your personality as well! You really put that across on social media which is arguably refreshing because not a lot of artists want to be doing that!
I feel like with my social media, I have always been the same! As I get bigger, it is not going to change! I am still going to tweet the random things that come to my head during the day. I think a lot of the time, you don’t need to change as you get bigger, just stay the same and if you do, there is more of an authentic feel to you!
Doesn’t it annoy you though when you get compared to Jack Fowler?!
Do you know what! *laughs* At first, I was like ‘Ahhhh mate!’, it started off with one person telling me, I tweeted it and people started jumping on the bandwagon! But now, I just embrace it man! *laughs*
What else can we expect to see from you this coming year? You’ve got your new track dropping next week?!
Yeah! It was meant to drop this weekend, but by the time this comes out there will be a new announcement! The song is coming out very soon! There have been a few difficulties because Barcelona lost and I tweeted if Barcelona lose I can’t drop ‘BEBEY’ *laughs* I had to stick to my word, so we are going to get around it and it will be out very soon! ‘BEBEY’ is the anthem that the summer needed but never got – let’s put it that way!
Keep up to date with all things Keeya Keys via his Instagram here!