DJ Low Key is certainly no stranger to the local hip-hop scene. And for the past few years, he's been making a name for himself nationally putting in work with such heavy-hitters as TiRon, Tanya Morgan and, most recently, Che Grand, whose Fixtape #2 project, mixed exclusively by Low Key, dropped last week.
Fixtape 2 has a few shouts to Colorado, including a track called "Salute," which pays homage to the longstanding weekly that Low Key and Sounds Supreme have hosted for the past three years called The Solution. We recently spoke with Low Key about Fixtape #2, Che Grand action figures, and his plans for the last quarter of 2010.
Ww (Rachel Romero): Who is Che Grand, and how did you meet him?
LK (Low Key): Che Grand is a ridiculously talented artist from Brooklyn and London, respectively. I first met him through Tanya Morgan back in 2006. I was deejaying a CMJ showcase for Tanya Morgan, and since Che's part of their extended crew [The Lessondary], we ended up hanging out. Then, six or so months later, he hit me up and asked if I wanted to mix the first Fixtape. I did, and we've been down ever since.
Ww: For those who haven't heard Che Grand's music, who would you compare his style to?
LK: That's a tough one. Che's a pretty unique artist, but he definitely has that classic-sounding East Coast feel to his music. He's the evolution of the classic East Coast rapper. He raps about a wider variety of topics and on a wider variety of beats than you'd expect to hear from someone who has a "classic" sound. But you can definitely hear that East Coast foundation in his music.
Ww: What was your inspiration while mixing Fixtape 2?
LK: I'm inspired by how great the music is. Che is one of my favorite new artists, and hearing each new song he would send kept me motivated right up until the end. In fact, the last couple of songs he sent me are some of the best. It's like he just kept getting better and better the whole time he was recording.
Ww: What are your favorite tracks from the project?
LK: Well I'm definitely partial to "Salute (The Solution)." It's a track that Che recorded about The Solution, the party I throw with Sounds Supreme. He sent me three different versions, and we only used the short version on the tape.
There's a crazier long version that's going to end up on The Solution Tape #2 sometime this fall. Some of my other favorites are "Fixed Tapes," "Get on Your Job," "King x Grand," "Star (Pimps in Canada in 3D)" and "Hagler," with Jay Electronica. It's hard for me to pick favorites, though; there's such a good variety.
Ww: Why do you think many Colorado DJs have restricted their work to Colorado? Is there anything that sets your mind state about collaboration apart from others?
LK: I think the old mentality of Colorado is to feel isolated. One thing I've learned from traveling and talking to a lot of out-of-towners is that Denver is an island in a lot of ways. A lot of the fundamental "rules" of music and touring stress everything east of Chicago and Texas or along the West Coast, leaving Colorado pretty isolated from a lot of the music culture you see in other cities.
It's also a positive thing, though. The scene here is a lot more pure than most other cities I've been to, and that is a beautiful thing. These days, people are starting to realize the whole world is accessible through the internet and a plane ticket.
As far as my mind state goes, I've just always been interested in supporting whatever new music I'm into, and regardless of whether they live here or in NYC or Brooklyn or L.A., cats appreciate that. More than anything, I think that interest in breaking new music has been what sets me apart from a lot of DJs.
Ww: Do you think that online music sharing has changed the way artists release music?
LK: With the state of music being what it is, artists have no choice in the matter -- music is free. That's the world we live in. And because of that, artists have to build a rapport with their fans that makes them want to support the artists. Hopefully their music is good enough to build a relationship with the fans that make them want to buy a ticket to a show or a T-shirt or a Che Grand action figure with the kung fu grip or whatever.
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Ww: What do you have in store for the last half of 2010?
LK: I've got a lot of great stuff in the works, but I always try not to get too far ahead of myself. Here's a few of things I'm working on right now: [I plan to] team up with Akomplice for a Colorado mini-tour with Sounds Supreme, WhyGee, Tanya Morgan and a few other acts. I'm also dropping a mixtape of remixes featuring Aeon from Philly and continue to help with the Red Bull Thre3 Style National Finals in Denver.
Before the year is up, Sounds Supreme and I will release the Solution Tape #2. The first is available at DenverSolution.com, if you haven't checked it out yet.