14 September, 2012@2:29 am
On October 23rd, Oh No will team up with producer Chris Keys to release Ashes via Heavy Keys Records. To accompany the album announcement, Oh No & Chris Keys are also releasing album cut “Devastation”, premiered today by Pitchfork, which features Guilty Simpson and Montage One.
For years, Oh No has proven himself as one of rap music’s most talented rapper/producer double threats, releasing solo projects, producer albums, and collaborating with fellow rapper/producer The Alchemist as one-half of the beloved duo Gangrene. Chris Keys, on the other hand, is an upstart, a producer who cut his teeth and honed his craft off the radar by applying his classical training to the gritty, off-kilter sound that is quickly becoming his calling card.
Despite those differences, Ashes plays like an album from two artists that have been collaborating their whole lives – and it’s that easy chemistry that drove Oh No & Chris Keys to work together in the first place. “The first time we met, Chris was playing me beats,” says Oh No, who notes that he and Chris have recorded over 60 songs together in the past few months. “We just felt good about it.”
The other thing that Oh No & Chris Keys found they had in common, besides their love for music, is a love for weed, and the album title, Ashes, is a metaphor, says the pair, inspired – only half-jokingly – from the two artist’s shared passion for smoking. “The music we created,” explains Chris of the metaphor, “was the ash of our efforts.” Oh No explains, going deeper, saying, “It’s like dirty art on a vintage table. It makes you want to take a picture of it.”
Fans of Oh No will recognize a new level of focus and intricacy to his rhymes, something he’s excited for listeners to hear. “My progression on this album is more evident within the lyrics and subject matter,” says Oh No. “I was surrounded by a lot of different polarities within my life, so I tried to tackle a mix of positive and negative subjects, still keeping it raw.” That growth comes across throughout the album, whether Oh No is weaving stories (“Strangers”), trading verses with peers like Guilty Simpson (“Devastation”) and Big Pooh (“Spaceship”), or crafting unsuspecting club bangers (“Let’s Go”).
For Chris Keys, who will celebrate his debut release with Ashes, growth came through working with artist whose work he’s long admired. “I definitely grew as a producer,” he says, “working with someone who’s an amazing producer himself.” To hear Oh No tell it, though, the inspiration traveled both directions equally. “The beats, the beats, the beats,” repeats Oh No. “Chris’ beats just naturally put me in rap mode – I was just telling some stories, zoning out.”
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