NEWS: Keyz of Life National Post Article (The Beats Go On)

hyperadmin | News | Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Shouts to Ben Kaplan for covering Keyz of Life in today’s National Post. Really dope article even though Anthony’s last name is James, not Jones (fixed in the transcript below). Anyways…check it out on news stands today or peep the online version copied here. Keyz of Life is available now (below).

The new album Keyz of Life is a tribute to Anthony “Durty Keyz” James, the 23-year-old Toronto producer who passed away just six months before his dream project could be completed. A hip-hop record that celebrates life, the album is uplifting, emotional and vibrant, and was a labour of love for the 30 or so artists involved.

“I couldn’t get the words out, I just hit the ground and started crying,” says Andrew “Burd” Liburd, 25, James’s production partner who had spoken with his best friend a day before he succumbed to streptococcus, a rare bacteria infection that killed the budding musician in a matter of days. “There was no way to get my head around it – it didn’t make any sense – but it gave me the energy to finally finish the album. There was an outpouring of love, and everybody wanted to get involved.”

Some of the top-tier talent involved with the record, available for free at BurdandKeyz. com, include Rich Kidd, one of Drake’s production partners; Shi Wisdom, one of Toronto’s most up-and-coming new singers; and Kardinal Offishall, the godfather of the urban Canadian music scene.

“I met Burd a few days after Keyz passed, and he was so passionate that I’d do anything I could to keep his spirit up and carry on Keyz’s legacy,” says Offishall, whose three-minute verse on the album closer The Other Side is one of his strongest rhymes in a storied 15-year rap career. “It was strictly vibes and love – that’s what the project was about for me.”

This past Friday, a handful of artists involved with the project met at the Lakeview Lunch diner in Toronto to reminisce about James. In attendance were Reza Dahya, the popular former FLOW 93.5 DJ who executive produced the album, Wisdom and Redway, a promising 22-year-old MC from Mississauga who raps on the song Say a Prayer.

“I never met Keyz, but through my relationship with Burd I had a mutual love for the guy,” says Redway, who then performs his verse from the album in the crowded west-end restaurant, drawing applause. “I’m more of a cool kid, I’ve never really gone that deep before, but when I heard the hook and, given the subject matter, I decided to try something more emotional and raw.”

The album’s first single is Love Speak, featuring a beat from James and Wisdom, and it’s quickly become a hit on urban radio stations across the country despite only being released this past week online. For all of the artists involved, though, the album’s success seems to almost be beside the point – the record was simply made to honour a friend.

“You’re supposed to celebrate a man’s life when he passes, and so right from the start Keyz of Life is on the celebration tip,” says Dahya, who also produced a video tribute of Jones that played at his funeral. “On the record, there’s super highs, lows and really emotional moments: It’s a testament to what it’s like when you lose a friend.”

One of the highlights of the album, along with Offishall’s verse and the discovery of Toronto’s budding new post Drake talent pool, are the audio snippets of James himself. Recorded this past May in Liburd’s basement, James comes across as funny, humble and dedicated to his twin passions of playing piano and making beats.

“We always talked about someday making that Keyz of Life record, an album that would celebrate the city, make interesting collaborations and be something different, something exciting and something that’s dope,” Liburd says. “The album ended up being a real tribute to Anthony. It’s not fair that we lost him, but it feels good that his legacy, through his music, will live on.”

– Keyz of Life is available as a free download at

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