88-Keys: On A Quest For The Va-Jay-Jay

By Tiffany Thompson  |  10/27/2008

88-KeysThere is a constant chase for it. Foxy Brown called it power. Consciously or subconsciously, from the moment they wake up, men are in definite pursuit of it and 88-Keys has penned an entire album about it. It's the va-jay-jay, and Key's album, The Death of Adam is about man's quest to get that pu***!

It's not unheard of to see producers stepping from behind the curtain and into the forefront, baring their souls and divulging music that is so close to their hearts and open to public scrutiny and dismay. Many times in the music industry, each player will put on a different cap. The artist takes on the producer or writer title. The background singers step to the forefront. The evident star of the group breaks out and wears the solo artist cap. Roles in the music industry are forever shifting. Of those to take on the artists role include Diddy in the late 90s, The Neptunes in the early 2000s, and today: 88-Keys.

Executively produced by Kanye West, The Death of Adam is 88-Keys' first solo album, but the continuation in the chronicles of Adam's quest in seeking satisfaction.

BallerStatus.com caught up with the mastermind, to get schooled in Coochie School. So 88-Keys fans and va-jay-jay chasing men, rejoice because Keys' album is the quintessential guide, with some straightforward lessons on how to "Stay Up" and not let the va-jay jay be the death of you, like our homeboy Adam.

BallerStatus.com: Let me first start off by saying congratulations on the release of the album, The Death of Adam. You've previously said that it's based off of a strict story line. Can you tell me about that story line?

88-Keys: The storyline is about my man Adam, who pretty much wakes up with a hard boner, and he decides to do something about it. He goes on a journey. Pretty much, he just goes on this mission to try and get some, and he just gets caught up through the story line. You see how the story unfolds in each song. It's like, the whole album is very cohesive, so it's not like you hear a love song here, and then you hear a love song [there] and then you hear a song about, "Mamma didn't raise me right," and then like, you hear a skit to try and tie those three songs together. Each song is part of the story. Adam wakes up with a boner, that song is called "Morning Glory." Adam decides he's going to get the girl, take her out to dinner and splurge on her, that song is called "Nice Guys Finish Last." He gets caught, she winds up liking him like a brother. She's not seeing him the way he wants to be seen, that song is called a "Friend Zone." So, the whole album plays out like that, 'til it eventually leads to his death, but how he dies, that's where the twist lies!

BallerStatus.com: That's very creative, how did you come up with a concept like that? Were the situations drawn from real life experiences?

88-Keys: Yeah actually it was, 'cause Adam actually represents man in society. I mean, he just represents man from the beginning of time, not just the 21st century. Like man all together. I'm trying to give guidelines on how to act and how not to act, when it comes to dealing with the va-jay-jay, the vag. I got a lot of important messages that I want people to walk away with. Aside from the album being sonically slamming ... the messages within the songs themselves are pretty powerful statements. I think people could learn from them if they could really, look at themselves like, "Damn, am I really this f***ed up?"

BallerStatus.com: How did you come up with the concept because your mixtapes are also based of the Adam theme? How did everything start? How did Adam come to life?

88-Keys: It all started from one beat that I made. I was making the album, not necessarily The Death of Adam. I was like eight or nine beats into the album, and there was this one beat that sounded really good, but it was super annoying. It sounded really good to me, but I know if anybody else heard it, they'd be really annoyed. So I figured let me give it a meaning, but I'm thinking to myself, "What can I do? What meaning can I give the song to have it make sense and make it a little more digestible?" I was thinking about all the things that gave me pleasure, like my Polo clothes, my record collection, my family, not necessarily in that order. Then, "Ah, I know! It's the vag! It's the vag the va-jay-jay the punanie, the coochie." So that's what it is, that beat was the first keeper on my album.

I actually didn't finish that beat until like four months later, and then the very next beat that I made ... started to pertain to the coochie as well. So then I was like, "This is too freaky deaky for it to be a coincidence." Also, with me, I'm not religious, but I'm very spiritual and I have a connection with God, the creator. So I move with his word, so everything I do is divinely inspired. So you know, he just came down, whispered, "My son, make the album about the va-jay-jay." That's what He said, but his voice is way more mellow. (Laughs)

BallerStatus.com: (laughs) So you had a conversation with God about the va-jay-jay?

88-Keys: Yeah, I was like, "What are you talking about?" Then [God] said, "Come on 88, you know." (laughs)

BallerStatus.com: Your used to being in control of other people's projects, what was it like for you to give up [some] control, to Kanye, of your own project?

88-Keys: Well actually, that statement, or question is half true. I wasn't used to being in control of other peoples' projects, which is why I decided to no longer continue to chase after people in the industry to be apart of their projects. Like this album, The Death of Adam, is about two years in the making. Within the those two years, I didn't make a single beat for anybody unless it was for someone who contributed to my mixtape. I didn't want to have to set aside my own stuff to try to be a part of somebody else's stuff that I may or may not make the final cut. I didn't want to drop the ball for anybody else, just to be disappointed that my song won't turn up. So I was like, "let me make songs for my man 88-Keys 'cause I know he's fresh, and I know he's going to pick all the beats that I give him, and if he doesn't, he's a sucker."

As far as Kanye stepping in, I was lucky enough for him to be a part of my album, in that capacity, because the album, again, two years of my blood sweat and tears. But you know, I reaped more benefits from me working, completely focusing on my album, working on my own terms, my own timeline and stuff like that. Most times they didn't get it, but they supported it. [Kanye] came aboard after I re-[finished] my album. Long story short, he was really trying to convince me to have him do it. Everything he was saying was making sense, but I just didn't want to let my baby go. It's like, you have a child and they gotta go to college, or even way before that, they gotta go to pre-school and start their education or further their education, you're not quite ready to see them off. But, you know they'll become better people if they do.

BallerStatus.com: So it was bitter sweet?

88-Keys: Yeah, it was definitely bitter sweet. Then this conversation I was having with Kanye in his multi-million dollar home in the city, I just had to close my eyes real tight, and say, "Oh I could have this?" Or, "Oh I might be able to have this?" Or, "I might be able to get one of them? ... All right, maybe." It still took me like eight hours to decide and get back to him and [say] "Here you go, f***it." Number one, he's one of my best friends. We've been best friends for like the past six or seven years or so, like literally, so I know he has my best interests at heart. Then number two, obviously he has the [magic] touch and he's no dummy. I want some of the sh** he got. I see what he did for Common, with his stuff. After seeing that, Common could've eventually got to where he's at on his own, but [Kanye] played a huge part of Common's real time success. God willing, I will get to that level in my career. I feel that it's all in the making. I feel it's all in the works. Right now I'm just finishing my album 100%, get it out there, let it do what it does, and have fun performing. I'm just trying to have a lot of fun and buy a lot of Polo blue label clothing.

BallerStatus.com: It took you two years to make this album? Why so long?

88-Keys: 'Cause my ass is slow as hell. There's that too, but honestly it's like, I didn't want to have to adhere to a deadline like, "This is the deadline, you have to turn in your album in by this time or whatever." I turn in my album when it's a 100% done to my liking. Had I restricted myself to the deadlines -- that [would've been] set to me -- I wouldn't be where I am today. I probably wouldn't be having this interview 'cause I wouldn't be of interest to anybody. If my album wasn't nearly as perfect as it is now, it'll probably take me another year or two to get it out. But it has to be right, especially for my first time out, my first solo album.

BallerStatus.com: As the release date comes closer, how are you feeling right now?

88-Keys: Definitely not nervous because I've always told myself -- and I know this to be true whether it's like wishful thinking -- even if I don't do those numbers, and I know that nobody is expecting me to do those numbers, being that it's an independent release coming out of Decon Records, but even if it doesn't do those numbers, I feel that it'll do ok. I feel I'll receive critical acclaim and if for nothing else, that's enough for me. Critical acclaim would be enough to take me to places and stuff, but if I did do those numbers, that would be nice.