88-Keys: A Musical Mastermind


What happens when the man behind the music steps on stage with a mic in his hand? Sheer brilliance, that’s what. 88-Keys, beast of beats/producer turned rapper/singer/collaborator brings the listening public a whole new sound and concept with the release of his debut album, The Death of Adam. On it, 88-Keys explores the journey of a man’s pleasure. With the support of a musical genius like Kanye West, listeners should expect the very best. Even if you think you’ve never heard of him (because 88-Keys claims that no one reads album credits anymore), you’ve heard his music. Mr. Keys has laced tracks for Blackstar, Beanie Siegel, Musiq Soulchild, Macy Gray and several other heavy hitting recording artists. Not only will we follow Adam’s voyage in The Death of Adam, but we’re also listening to 88-Keys’ metamorphosis into hip-hop greatness.

 Danielle Young


How did you come up with the name 88-Keys?

Actually, the Large Professor gave me that name, back when I was 14 or 15 years old. Back in the early to mid 90’s, I used to help my friend John Carrero sell records—like old vinyl. One of our clients was Q-tip and he started to come over to the crib and buy records; one day he brought Large Professor with him. I was working on a beat on the ASR 10 keyboard and Large Professor walked in freestyling. He didn’t know my name—no introduction or nothing, and he said, ‘We got 88-Keys on the grand pian’. I felt like he was talking about me. So I said when I get in the game, I’m going by 88-Keys because I got it from the great one.


What made you go from producer to rapper?

Kanye West. He encouraged me to do it as a profession. Initially my album was supposed to be mainly instrumental and a few features sprinkled here and there. I went on a tour with Common and Q-Tip—it was the 2K Sports Bounce Tour and I was the opening act. My extent was scaled back to having to DJ my set.  [I] couldn’t perform anything because I couldn’t get any of my features to come out on the road with me. I’m on the main stage with a microphone—you know—[getting] the crowd hype. I played music that I like and for the last 15 minutes of my hour set.


I would play excerpts from my album. So I felt like the next time I get this opportunity to go on the road, I don’t want to be someone that doesn’t have material. I want to put myself more into my album, so I came up with lyrics for two of my songs, which I only planned on using for stage performances only. Kanye asked me to play my album for one of his friends.  [While] I was playing it, I pulled Kanye to the side and told him I had an idea how I want to freak my stage show if I get on stage again. I told him I had lines for the instrumentals and told him one rhyme and he was like ‘Ooooooh, that’s dope. You got another one?’ I spit him another one and at that time, I only had two. He was pretty much floored and told me I was a thousand times better in rapping. You know, all in a day’s work. *he laughs* From there, that’s when the light bulb went off in his head and he went into cheese mode and came up with all these ideas for me. He eventually asked and convinced me to let him executive produce my album.


This was one of my favorite interviews EVER. Click here to read the rest. TOTALLY worth the click!

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