Interview: Joburg-based rapper, MyKey, shares his story, speaks about his new EP and invites us into his world of creativity
Something really amazing and groundbreaking is happening in the entertainment industry in South Africa’s city of gold – Johannesburg. A new wave, driven by the internet and headed by urban black youth, is burgeoning and taking over. Results of the impact of this new wave can be seen on social media, in the playlists of many urban youths and the everyday conversations of young people in Mzansi’s urban spaces. New leaders of youth culture have risen, taking charge and rising to the occasion when it comes to taking South African creativity forward. These leaders use digital art, memes, hashtags and music as their preferred tools to shift perspectives, express themselves and introduce new ideas. Artists like MyKey, who is Joburg-based, are of this new wave and generation and they are taking advantage of the opportunities awarded to them by digital technology. We are seeing new ways of sharing music and breaking an artist, and artists like MyKey understand this and are ushering innovation in.
We got an opportunity to chop it up with MyKey, a young creative pioneer who is armed with the right digital tools to break an artist in 2018. He shares stories of he started, invites us into his world of creativity and speaks about his new EP – the Blank EP – with us. Peep the interview below.
Our first introduction to your music happened late 2017 when we heard your Jäger Pack EP. The EP was short, but packed with memorable gems that invited us into your world. We want to shy away from typical interview questions, but we have to know how it all started for you.
I actually found out I had a knack for making music sometime in 2015, by mistake. I recorded on a Joey Bada$$ beat at a friend’s place, out of boredom really. Then a few weeks later I found the recording in my phone, sent it to my cousin and he was impressed. That was the first time I ever considered making music full-time. Fast- forward to 2016, I met Solve the Problem & 808x and we just started making music together for fun. That’s how Elevator Music came about. Things got serious for me last year, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
You have quite a few EPs and short projects under your belt. From the Elevator Music EP to the Prefunkt EP to the Halfway House EP with your frequent collaborator, Solve The Problem. Stylistically, you have changed quite a bit but one thing has stayed consistent throughout the years – your raps. You have a unique style. Please tell us what inspired you to take the stylistic route you took?
I think working with 808x and Solve as frequently as I do has a profound impact on how my style evolved. In the beginning it was all about the lyrical content itself, I wanted to be sure that I was saying something meaningful instead of just rhyming because I can. Now I’m more focused on creating new cadences in my flow and making the song feel more like an experience. Collaborating with my label mates is the easiest way to make that happen because they’re all extremely talented as individuals.
You’re part of Innanetwav, one of the best labels slash multimedia entertainment agencies in Johannesburg. A team that is driving the next sound of South African urban music. Your contributions to the UU story are evident. What is your role in the UU team? We know that you’re not just a rapper, but you play an important role in how the team looks digitally.
I guess I’m a bit of a tech enthusiast. So I taught myself how to make websites and apps while trying to raise rent money for my mum and siblings. My manager, Ty, saw my work and he basically allowed me to build the Innanetwav site as well. Luckily the brand image was already established by then so it was relatively easy putting it together. And the response from the fans has been great too.
You’re set to release a lot of new music this year. You were featured in Delilah by East Side Yacht Club, a banger of note. Delilah served as a taste to fans of what they can expect from you this year. Tell us about your next project, the Blank EP? What went into the making of the project?
Yeah shout out to my broskies! We actually made that song last year. That was our first collaboration if I’m not mistaken. Anyway, the Blank EP is more or less a compilation of songs I made while working on my debut album (DEFUNKT). I felt like I needed to take more time to work on DEFUNKT, so the BLANK EP was like a by- product of that decision. When PREFUNKT came out, that was supposed to be the lead-up to DEFUNKT. That was the plan I had in mind. But a lot happened in between that time and now, both good and bad. It sort of felt like inertia at some point. Which is part of the inspiration behind the name BLANK- it symbolizes inertia in my journey as a creator/artist.
When making the Blank EP did you have a particular listener in mind. Like, were you making something for the new school wave or you were making something that could enjoyed by a wide variety of people?
I don’t think there was a particular demographic I had in mind while I made the songs. But I definitely identify with the new wave because it’s the era I grew up in musically. The kids know best. If the older generation enjoys it too, that’s a plus.
Where can people stream or download your new EP?
It’ll be on Soundcloud exclusively until further notice.
What can people expect from you and your team this year?
Power moves and a whole lot of good music. I think Innanetwav has proven that we have the capacity to give the people what they want. 2018 is going to solidify that fact and more people will start to appreciate the industry that exists within the internet on a local level.
Where can people follow you online?
My handle is @mykey_uu on IG and Twitter. That’s where you can keep up with me and my music.