Hi Kee is a young artist living in a small community called Peppers in St. Elisabeth, Jamaica. In 2002 his first tune "Pretty Like Gold" received airplay throughout Jamaican radio stations and Hi Kee was interviewed by Radio HOT 102 a national radio station. Hi Kee gained by DJ-ing on local sound systems like Tic Tac, Hi Grade CD Sound, Cosmic and Revelation Sound in Jamaica. In January 2009 Hi Kee signed with LT International, an artist management company. Since working together, Hi Kee has recorded countless singles and a compilation tunes to be released this year. His first single is called "Woman of Virtue" and was recorded for Maasto Records, a label in Finland. The second single called "Goodness Gratious" was recorded for Reality Chant Productions, a label in New Zealand. The third recording is called "Heights Up", for Akom Records in France. So better watch out for this emerging roots reggae artist....
Where in Jamaica do you come from and how did you grow up?
I'm from Pepper district in St. Elizabeth. I grew up with both parents and I am the second of seven kids, three brothers and three sisters. We were poor, but we all went to school and lived like normal kids, my mother an adventist and my dad a rastafarian, I was taught good principles as a youth, so I never stray too far from being a good kid.
Tell me about how you first got in contact with music!
It all started at church, then school, then to the streets where I met (Skylan) Bently Mattis who taught me to write my own songs and introduced me to various studios.
Which artists would you consider as mentors for yourself?
There are a lot of artist that I respect for their great music and for the effort they put out to do music, like: Louie Culture, Mykal Rose, Bob Marley & Peter Tosh just to name a few, but when it comes to mentors I strive to make my own mark.
How do you come up with lyrics?
I live lyrics,lyrics are the things that happen around me everyday sometimes it starts from an argument, discussion, someones joy, even a little rhym or jus hearing a riddim. But the greater part is when Jah has a message for u to deliver he gives u all the lyrics.
From what I have read about you, your father is a rastafarian. Did his education have influences on your view on the world?
In a lot of ways yes it did, my father is a very wise man. He has a lot of valued principles that I adopted cause I found them to be sound and right.
Your first tune “Pretty Like Gold” received airplay in Jamaica but was never released on 7 Inch. Recently “Woman Of Virtue” was recorded for Maasto Records from Finland and “Goodness Gratious” went to Reality Chant Productions, a label based in New Zealand. Is it hard to find labels in Jamaica to work with nowadays?
I live in the countryside of Jamaica. To find proper producers I have to go to Kingston, but nowadays you will find computer studios all over the place and from time you will find producers who do music as a hobby but not to take your career to the extreme of promoting and marketing.
Why do producers from such far places like New Zealand and Finland record you? Where did you get the contacts to these people?
Give thanks for my manager Lennart whom I met at the Rivernile Recording Studio. Hhe has been doing projects with them for quite some time. He sent the myspace link to the producers and they liked my music, so they start sending me riddims and I wrote lyrics and recorded them at the studio.
There are critics pointing out, that most of the better crafted riddims don't come from Jamaica anymore. They are made in the United Kingdom, France and even Germany for example. Do you agree with this?
I wouldnt say that because I personally heard very excellent riddims coming from both sides, the only thing is most producers are into hardcore dancehall while the UK, France or Germany are for roots music.
There are so many young and talented artists in Jamaica. Is it difficult for somebody like you to get attention within the jamaican music-sceen?
Its hard with so many competition and corruption - a good song alone wont do. You have to make a proper video, it takes a lot of money,time, energy and a million kilos persistence, but as long as the promotions go well, people will be looking out for you.
Is there any other young artists you really like and admire?
A whole bunch of them, Charm Skwaad, Jim Laden both from my parish, Pressure, Etana, Sophia Squire, and quite a few more...
What do you think are the biggest social problems in Jamaica? What could you and the music industry do to make it a better place?
Unemployment, crime, lack of proper education, health care and love. The word is charity , try to set up a nongovernment funding program where artist and musicians can contribute cash or talent especially for the children, handicaped and elderly people.
Are there any projects in the pipeline right now that keep you busy?
Im doing some finishing touches on my upcoming album and promoting my singles, trying to do a video clip, working on two combinations with well known reggae artist which I don't want to mention yet and trying to get on more local shows. Currently I am very busy with promoting my first three singles “Woman of Virtue” , “Goodness Gratious” and “Red inna di Gideon”. I try to go to every radiostation in Jamaica, hand out my promo CDs and talk to DJs or at least the secretary at the office. We have over 10 radios over here and that is a lot of work... the CDs cost a lot, plus travelling through Jamaica comes on top of that, so it´s not easy for a young artist to get recognition!
What is to be expected from you next?
I hope to have my first video ready soon, then working right away on the second cause it´s very impotant over here in Jamaica to have videos. This and my upcoming album are my major focus right now. For the release of the album by november this year I would love to come over to Europe to do some shows... My album will be also released in Australia by a different label, we are trying to set up a tour for down there as well. Differently u can look out for more single releases from Bassrunner Prod. in Austria and Akom Records from France. Both are soon ready to release new tunes from me... There are a couple more releases to mention. There is the Lustre Kings Label from California who prepares a release and then also Whatage Muzic from Jamaica with two singles... so nuff things in the making and nuff new tunes from Hi Kee to come!
Interview: Karsten Frehe (06/2009)