It's not every day you get to spend time being mentored by one of your legit idols. Sure, there might have been that older guy or girl at school or that particularly cool aunt who got you into the literature or music that helped form some of your early teen tastes, but that's not quite on the level we're talking about. So when Skepta announced plans last year to work with a group of young musicians, guiding them through the often thorny and winding path to finding their creative voices, plenty of artists stepped up. At the time, Skepta told us: "I want to show the young generation that success is not something you search for externally, it is from within. Help people to understand that all your thoughts and ideas can become reality with a bit of hard work and dedication."
And so a programme (officially called the Levi's Music Project) at north London's Selby Centre in Tottenham was born, to nurture the skills, creative output and business know-how of a select number of acts. One of them was rapper Keedz, who hops back and forth between rap and grime, casually dropping bars that smash like a particularly gnarled brick to the face. Since wrapping up her time at Selby Centre under Skepta's watchful eye, she's been working on solo material with plans to put out an EP next month. We couldn't help but rate the space she's kicking out for herself in the genre, so are sharing the visuals for her "Grimeonology" single below, as well as having a little chat about life since leaving the mentoring programme, bracing yourself to step into the limelight and why turning airplane mode on your phone can be a lifesaver.
Noisey: Hey Keedz, can you tell us a bit about what you learned from the Levi's Music Project, and how did you built that into your EP?
Keedz: There was a lot I learned about being independent from the project. Pioneers like Skepta and most recently Stormzy have shown you can do just as well independently if you have the right team around you, doing the right things; building relations and connections with people. You can stay true to your sound as there's no one dictating what or how it should be like and I think that's the number 1 thing I like: being in control of my creativity. That's something I really took advantage of when creating my EP. No limits, no boundaries.
So what are you trying to accomplish with the EP?
This EP is my way of showing listeners that I'm not just a rapper/grime MC. I'm an artist and I can do more than just spit bars. My aim was to make it quite versatile so there are a couple of tunes on it that are little bit away from my usual sound. It's a four-track EP that starts off with grime then swiftly changes vibe. Even though I'm not a singer there's some singing from me on it, as well as an afrobeat vibe track. It took me out of my comfort zone but you have to do that sometimes. You never know how it will pay off but I went for it.
As well as working on your own, you picked up some collab experience too, right?
Yeah, there was a collaboration from four of us from the project a track called "Aeroplane Mode", which features Ferrucci on production, Kali and Delano Vacianna with vocals and a verse from me. I remember during the project, when we were creating various different songs and sounds with each other, Kali had written a verse to something she called "Aeroplane Mode." As soon as i heard the lyrics i thought, 'yeah this song is cold'.
Sometimes I just want to disconnect with social media, messages, the world – so putting my phone on airplane mode feels like the answer. Ferrucci worked some production around it on the piano which gave it a completely different vibe to what I usually do, but again I loved it cos i was stepping out of my comfort zone and i like to challenge myself.
It seems an absurdly simple question, but why do you make music?
I've always been into performing arts and music ever since I was a kid, performing at any musical or talent show the school put on. That musical streak has always been in me. I mainly started doing music cos I always associated it with fun times back in the days, when me and my friends would be on the ends chilling and someone would play an instrumental off their phone.
Remember them days when people were sending tunes to each others' phones via bluetooth or infrared? Anyone that had bars would come forward and spray them. And when you're a younger and the elders are getting gassed off you, that makes you love spitting even more. The freedom to express and say what the hell you want, relate or influence people and also get others gassed is probably the reason why I make music. Another major reason I make music is because i grew up around financial struggle, at home as well as in my community so id love to be able to use my talent to help and give back.
Keep an eye out for Keedz' EP, due out on 14 July.
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