First Look: Keelay and Zaire

First Look: Keelay and Zaire

Keelay & Zaire came on the RH radar with the release of “The Times” featuring Blu, Fortilive and Nino Moschella.  After doing some digging on the Cali production duo out of the Sole Vibe camp, we decided to put the microscope to them in the latest edition of RH First Look.

RubyHornet: Who is Keelay & Zaire?

Zaire: Kee & Zee are a production duo/team whom collaborates on multiple projects within the Sole Vibe Camp. Given the artistic foundation already established within the squad, we utilize that and create a style of music that’s pretty unique.

Keelay: That sounds like a Websters Dictionary We’re just two regular cats who try to make music we like..not much more to it than that.

RubyHornet:  How do you guys compliment each other?  Is it a ying and yang thing?

Keelay: I would say ying and yang is actually a good description. We both have our strengths and weaknesses, so it balances out. We both have different influences and perspectives so it’s easier to cover more ground. Plus, it’s always nice to work with people who share a common interest for fine lager, shout out to St. Ides..

Zaire: Def a ying & yang thing…though we have our own ways of structuring beats/songs etc., our production style really shines off of each other.  These days we share production duties on most projects and, so far it’s been really comfortable working that way. It’s really a lot of sending sessions back and forth

RubyHornet:  Your upcoming LP is called Ridin’ High, is that just a motto or also a practice?

Keelay: Hmmm..

Zaire: Plead the FiF!

RubyHornet: I’ve heard that the album is conceptual, speak on the concept and what ties the tracks together.

Keelay: Well, it’s somewhat conceptual I guess..It’s not like Prince of Thieves conceptual, but basically we just wanted to make it feel like it was a car ride. When you roll around your city with your peoples and see different folks and situations, you may hear different songs on the radio or stop at the liquor store.. It’s more like a theme to the album.

Zaire: I don’t know ’bout Kee, but I was bankin’ on tying the whole album together with a sponsorship from St. Ides(©, ®, AND ™), but when I called up their corporate offices they said that they don’t sponsor rap dudes no more. You do the math lol.

RubyHornet:  In terms of the artists you have on the album, they differ in styles, but in your opinion, do they share a common vibe or quality that ties them together and served as almost a pre-requisite to be included?

Zaire: I think the common vibe that the artist share is that both Kee and I were big fans of the artists that we reached out to, and fortunately for us, they all really came correct on the collab tip. We all know that a lot of guest appearances on an album can end up with a mediocre effort from artists, but this time around, we felt folks brought their a-game. The LP’s rhythm is set by Kee & I, but all of the artists played their own role perfectly.

Keelay: We really just sat down and thought about who we would like to get on the album, that was reachable for us. Some folks came through and laced us, others didn’t work out as planned..that’s how it goes, I guess. We almost got John Brown..Ghetto Revival, holla! We couldn’t afford him From there it became a process of sending songs back and forth between both Zaire and I after they had been recorded, to really create the songs. For the most part, we pretty much had the whole album mapped out how we wanted it before anything was recorded, almost like a script with a cast that we wanted. We had planned different roles for different people. From there it was just following through with what he had planned out.

RubyHornet:  What producers had the biggest effect on your own styles and development?

Zaire: My biggest influence is DeVante Swang of Jodeci. Of course, they were one of the heavy hitting groups back in the 90s, but I always heard the left field elements of Jodeci’s joints back then, and that’s still true today. He, along with his crew of musicians, hit a sweetspot that I think hasn’t been rivaled until this day, in my opinion at least.

Keelay: Man, all the regulars Dre, Premo, Dilla etc.. That’s a lame answer I know, but cats outside the regulars would be Quik, Battlecat, Nottz.. I’d say really the biggest effect on my development would be my peers. Listening to them on internet forums and stuff like that, Zai, Jfish, Illmind, Mphazes, Chuckelz, croup.. this cat Styalz I remember him bein ill..  I used to study them cats man..haha

RubyHornet:  What is the ‘go to’ thing if you’re stressed or experiencing a block?

Keelay: I just try to do something else creative or listen to records or practice the keyboard. Most of the time that usually means I need a break though…

Zaire: Aw man, I go straight to the whip and blast some crazy music. Nothing more inspiring than riding around the city banging some music from ya favorite artists.. Jeezy!

RubyHornet:  I’m digging the song with Blu, “The Times”, what role does music serve for you in terms of dealing with the ups and downs of life?

Zaire: Music is def therapeutic from my perspective…I know for a fact that if I don’t get to create some kind of music in brief a period of time, then my equilibrium is all messed up, lol. Most of the time I get cranky as hell.

Keelay: Music is like my soundtrack to life, it’s like when you listen to a song and you remember the crazy details of when that song came out.. what girl you liked, what you did that summer, what you were going through when you made a certain beat or song or whatever.

RubyHornet:  What does the end of ’08 and top of ’09 hold for Keelay and Zaire?

Keelay: We got a bunch of stuff lined up. Our video for “The Times” featuring Blu, our label mates Fortilive and Nino Moschella is out now on, definitely go check that. We got like 4 videos for the album, so we are gonna try to put those out there as well. We have a free project we are putting out before the year ends with cats like Torae, Supastition, Nightclubber Lang, the whole Sole Vibe squad on there.. Then early ’09, Feb. to be exact.. we’ll drop our album Ridin High..

Zaire: Well in ’09, besides planning to break a few New Years Resolutions, I hope to get down with more artists, especially R&B artists, especially if Keysha Cole is reading this, and ESPECIALLY if she see’s my email addy in the interview. If not, she can just page me, I got…

RubyHornet: Three things you want listeners to know about Keelay and Zaire before listening to the music.

Zaire: First and foremost we’re fans of music, second, we are fans of versatility, and last but not least, We wanna work with everybody, so holla for some beats, or let’s do a project!

Keelay: Neither of us rap.  We are not the second coming of Riggs and Murtaugh, and we drink Crown on the rocks, so if you see us at the bar holla…


Alexander Fruchter

Original co-founder of RubyHornet. President of Closed Sessions

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