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Key! is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, so why hasn’t he blown up?

Key! is the rapper that perhaps best embodies the “New Atlanta” era of minimalism and weirdness.

With stripped down production and a nontraditional delivery, Key! is one of the most recognizable rappers in the game… and I have no idea why he hasn’t blown up yet.

Most of this may be due to his own actions.

In 2009 Key! started the collective Two-9 along with Curtis Williams. But when new management came in and things started to become more business oriented, Key! dipped on Two-9 to do his own thing.

He told Creative Loafing back in 2014 that he saw how Two-9 was changing and wanted to break out,

“The more organized and the more known we got other people started coming in and trying to control it. To me, that’s what it looked like… I have thing about old people coming in and trying to buy something new to keep their money going. Initially, it’s for the older person to get back where they was when they were booming.”

But it’s not a personal thing, Key! is still “Two-9 forever” and he was as happy as anyone when Two-9 signed to Mike Will Made-It’s Eardrummer Records.

This seems like somewhat of a theme with Key!, he’s constantly put himself in interesting situations seemingly on the verge of stardom, only to sort of hijack the situation if it’s not up to his standards.

Watch me come to life

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There’s a lot of honor in that, but it’s possible that it’s hampered his rise slightly.

Take his beef with OG Maco. The pair of post-modern rappers teamed up for the bonkers Give Em Hell EP in 2014. Key! refused to take part in the video for “U Guessed It” because as he told Alex Russell for Complex in 2014, “Man I don’t even like that song… well I like my verse.”

The Key!-less “U Guessed It” video now has over 57 million views on YouTube.

Maco and Key! started throwing shots back and forth, and Key! told Russell that his relationship with a co-worker doesn’t have to be friendly,

“I called him I was like, ‘Ay bruh, everything cool, let’s do what we got to do for this tape. But personally, I can’t rock with you.’ He was like, ‘What don’t you like, bro?’ You know, it’s just like if we work at McDonald’s and I don’t like my co-worker.”

On the surface that makes sense. OG Maco would release a diss track aimed at Key! called “Fat F-ck” but then they made “Street Fighter” together so who knows. And while that video and EP earned OG Maco a record deal, it’s been a minute since we heard anything from Maco.

The “U Guessed It” video is perhaps a microcosm of Key!’s career thus far. He seems to know everyone in the Atlanta hip-hop scene. He’s a good friend of former OVO signee iLovemakkonen, he’s collaborated with Awful Records but never signed to them.

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Key! was of the first artists to feature Playboi Carti and Key! has now popped up all over the new A$AP Mob album, but he’s not officially signed to the Mob.

It’s like he refuses to ride anyone else’s wave even if it would benefit him.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of rappers riding Key!’s wave and biting his style.

His laidback, almost stream of consciousness flow, full of random adlibs (“HELLO?”) has been copied repeatedly.

A$AP Twelvyy told XXL about Key!’s influence on his own music and how Yams told him about Key! years ago,

“Fatman Key is a part of the A$AP Mob. He is one of the illest musicians ever and when I started really listening to him I started getting the confidence to make any kind of music I want so shout out to Key. He’s a leader. He had his own wave in Atlanta years ago. Yams was telling me about Key! years ago.

Twelvyy went on to say that Key! is A$AP Mob’s version of Kevin Durant,

“He’s kind of like our KD, you feel me? Key be in the studio like, ‘What y’all doing, stop playing!’ I love Key. Key that’s the battery in my back… Everybody else on [the Vol. 2] is just A$AP Mob.”

This kind of praise from Twelvyy is not rare. It’s a sentiment shared by many in the game, A$AP Ant declared Key! “the hardest out.”

There’s something about Key!’s delivery and general presentation that’s just sort of magnetic.

Take, for instance, the “Look At Wrist” video. It’s a one-take video shot in a bedroom with Father and iLovemakonnen and when the shot pans to Key! for the third verse he just looks at the camera smoking a cigarette playing with two phones.

He doesn’t lip sync along to his verse because apparently, as he told Russell, “we didn’t know the words to that shit!”

Key! just doesn’t really seem to give a fuck about anyone else’s opinion, he’s going to do whatever he wants and what he thinks is best for him.

It’s cool to see A$AP Mob fucking with him and putting him on multiple tracks off Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 alongside artists like Gucci Mane and Rocky. Surely this will get some new recognition for Key! within more mainstream circles.

Maybe Key! is just too weird for the super-mainstream. But one way or another this dude is gonna blow up, lord knows your favorite rapper is already biting him.

Music week in review: A$AP Mob, Queens of the Stone Age, Lil Uzi, & more

It’s another week of varied releases from across the music world.

We’ve got new stuff from some of the best collectives in music, from Queens of the Stone Age to A$AP Mob.

It’s an album-heavy week of releases, here’s what you should be bumping right now.

A$AP Mob – Cozy Tapes Vol. 2

The official hypebeast soundtrack is finally out and it’s lit. With appearances from a wide spectrum of the hottest rappers in the game as well as some up-and-comers, Cozy Tapes is a pretty damn good showcase of rapping talent.

With features from everyone from Key!, a personal favorite who is due to blow any time now, to Frank Ocean to the young Smooky MarGielaa, A$AP Mob is putting on the whole team with this album.

After multiple straight weeks of releases from various members of A$AP Mob (Ferg and Twelvyy) and now this, as well as a nationwide tour set for fall, the Harlem collective is on fire right now.

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

Queens of the Stone Age are an American rock institution.

With 20 years of face-melting guitar riffs, it’s pretty damn awesome to see they still got it. Led by the legendary Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age are rocking harder than ever.

Queens of the Stone Age made Villains alongside producer Mark Ronson, whose work is mainly in the R&B, pop, and hip-hop lanes, and gives Villains a little more groove than Queens has had in the past.

Their sound is still crisp and edgy. It’s great to have Queens of the Stone Age back and holding it down for American rock music.

Lil Uzi Vert – Luv Is Rage 2

Lil Uzi Vert has returned with his irresistible bops on Luv Is Rage 2.

A couple months ago, we investigated why Uzi is so damn effective at what he does. With production from all the most relevant tastemakers, Luv Is Rage 2 is another vintage Uzi collection.

The Philadelphia native is fucking around and becoming one of the hottest and most talked about rappers in the game with many singing his praises and detractors saying he embodies “mumble rap.”

If you’re coming into this project with preconceived notions towards Uzi and his music (you should prolly just relax) you will most likely have those preconceptions affirmed. But if you’re willing to have some fun, Luv Is Rage 2 is for you.

The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

The War On Drugs, the brainchild of Adam Granduciel, have crafted a multi-layered and complex album of pure musical goodness with A Deeper Understanding.

Granduciel is a famous perfectionist and obsessive artist; every guitar chord, vocal note, and drum beat is almost ridiculously perfect-sounding.

It’s understandable to see why Granduciel has drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. His perfectionism is Bruce-like, he writes songs that depict small slices of Americana that are both hyper-specific and universal, his voice even kind of sounds like Springsteen, and the music is both pleasant to listen to and impressively crafted.

Cheers to Granduciel and co. for this project.

Action Bronson – Blue Chips 7000

Action Bronson is killing it on multiple fronts right now. After dominating the TV game, and now the cookbook lane, he’s back to doing what got him here in the first place.

With fire retro-inspired production from Alchemist, Action delivers his standard combination of hilarious punchlines and braggadocious boasts.

There’s a some appearances from all the members of Action’s now famous crew, with Mayhem Lauren popping up a couple times and Big Body Bes here to talk the most shit.

Blue Chips 7000 won’t be the most interesting hip-hop album of all time, but you’re gonna have a damn fun time listening to it.

Brockhampton – Saturation 2

Brockhampton is a massive hip-hop collective from San Marcos, Texas doing some of the coolest shit in music right now.

I mean, what other hip-hop group has official creative directors and app designers? They’re like a hip-hop startup.

Damn millennials.

But for all their intense image curation (their visuals are amazing), Brockhampton are fucking good.

Saturation 2 is the second album they’ve dropped this year. Immaculate production combined with fire verses in a diverse set of flows, Brockhampton are a joy and a very fresh voice in the hip-hop game.

If you’re looking for some different sounding rap music, peep Brockhampton (and watch their videos).

MadeinTYO – True’s World

MadeinTYO’s 6 song EP True’s World is a fun blend of some great beats and laidback flow that saw the rapper land on the XXL Freshman List.

Much like Lil Uzi, there’s something just infectious about MadeinTYO’s style, he has a knack for choruses and adlibs that have you going back for more.

It’s gonna be fun to see how MadeinTYO’s career progresses over the next year or so.

Corbin – “Mourn”

Corbin, the artist formerly known as Spooky Black, dropped a new track “Mourn” and announced a debut album by the same name due in September.

With production from Shlomo and D33J, “Mourn” is a murky R&B track with hard-hitting snares.

Corbin came up very quickly with a loyal SoundCloud following generated off a couple individual releases over the years.

It will be interesting to hear a whole studio album from the artist from Minnesota.

A$AP Mob drops new Hit-Boy produced track ‘Feel So Good’ with visuals

The entire A$AP Mob has been on point all AWGEST.

Since Twelvyy dropped his debut album 12, Ferg also dropped a couple other bangers off of his upcoming mixtape Still Strving, due on Friday, and now we got our first preview of what Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 is gonna sound like.

Yesterday at midnight, they released the group’s first single off Cozy Tapes Vol. 2, the track “Feel So Good,” produced by Hit-Boy so you know it was about to be fire.

Peep the music video for the first track of CT2:

The video was shot by director Hidji with Rocky and the rest of their AWGE collective.

With their Too Cozy Tour set to hit the road this Fall, you can see the entire squad is ready to remind everyone why A$AP is one of the nicest groups in hip-hop.

You knew this was a fact even before that the Mob pulled up to the Tonight Show and blessed Jimmy Fallon’s corny ass audience with a performance they probably didn’t even respect.

Their month takeover that they branded AWGEST just shows that even with the passing of Yams, the entire Mob is sticking with his vision in being strategic with the way they operate as a group.

With Twelvyy dropping his first project two weeks ago, Ferg is up next, and then finally the Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 we’ve all been waiting for.


After that it’s the tour, more videos, and all types of fly shit you ain’t even ready for.

A$AP Mob is ready to get the next chapter in their story and you already know kids all across America are ready to listen and cop.