Keelay and Zaire’s producer partnership in the super collaborative effort Riding High spawned one of a few stellar multi-player hip-hop projects to come along since Prince Paul’s A Prince Among The Thieves. Their conjoined histories of west and Midwestern beginnings into hip-hop during the Golden Era gave them the insight to make an album with classic appeal using contemporary artists. Keelay’s childhood in Los Angeles was spent listening to icons like DJ Premier and Pete Rock. Zaire’s Dayton, Ohio roots put him among the lingering vibes of famous funksters The Ohio Players, Zapp and Slave. His enjoyment of hip-hop was matched by his love of R&B which made Devante Swing a muse for him that can be heard in “Alright With Me’s” bedroom groove. They just released a video for “Slick Talk” the third single from the album and in this interview they explain how their dialogue that started on an internet forum two years ago turned into one of this year’s underground favorites.
Tell me something about your musical backgrounds? How did each of you get involved in music? Keelay I know you are another hip-hop lover from a place that isn’t known for it’s musical culture so how did it begin for you? Zaire you are from Dayton, OH what does your hometown have to do with your music?
Keelay: I don’t have any formal musical background or training but yeah it’s funny I just grew-up I mean really the first things I ever listened to was hip-hop which is funny so I just grew-up lovin hip-hop that was my favorite music I was the only kid in school or out of the neighborhood listening to hip-hop or rap. Both of my parents are from LA anyway so growing up I was always out there that’s why I really got exposed to hip-hop. I just remember like back in the day the first tape I ever bought was Criminal Minded BDP after that I was sold. It’s a funny thing because you know I was like a fish out of water. At the same time I’ve enjoyed being that one dude to listen to rap or hip-hop that’s just kind of how it all started. Every summer I’d go out there with my family because that’s where my family’s from being out there that’s kind of how I was exposed to it so it’s just kind of became like you fall in love.
Zaire: I grew-up in Dayton, Ohio I would listen to hip-hop on the radio because of course that’s what was around but my pops was a DJ he DJed a lot of R&B, soul and jazz whatnot so that’s what I primarily listened to in my household.