By John Benson
In the history of doing things you weren’t supposed to be doing, thank God for older family members.
In KeilyN’s case, it was his older cousins who, despite his mother’s best attempts to keep him away from rap, turned him on to hip-hop artists such as Eminem and Jay-Z. He was 8. Today, KeilyN is 23 and a burgeoning MC in the Youngstown music scene.
“I didn’t start writing actual songs until about two and a half years ago,” said KeilyN, a 2008 Chaney High School graduate. “Finally, I decided I was going to try to do this. I felt like I had a chance. I had a good shot. I had the talent. So I just went ahead and started trying to record music.”
KeilyN, whose last name is Davis, made his debut in March 2011 with the release of “My Pursuit of Happyness.” The album included singles “No Cannon,” “Best of Me” and “Your Song.” The latter track received airplay on Internet radio.
“People say it sounds like Tribe Called Quest and Lupe Fiasco, or, as it’s called, backpack or conscious rap,” KeilyN said. “I don’t really try to put it in a box. My latest mix tape, ‘Timing,’ dropped in March, and it was a little bit more personal. I just wanted to put out good songs, make them mesh together well and show people I can make any type of record, no matter if it’s mainstream sounding or smooth sounding. “‘Timing’ was to show off my versatility and get people excited for the music coming after that.”
Up next for KeilyN is another album of original material due out next year. So far he said the unreleased effort has a ’90s soulful influence. In fact, he’ll be playing lead single “Be Yourself” at his Saturday show at the Lemon Grove.
“It’ll remind people of the golden era of hip-hop, but just think of the golden era of hip-hop in 2012,” KeilyN said. “I just want to add more instrumentation to my sound, add more effects and just keeping the same formula but just taking it to the next level.”
Even though KeilyN admits he’s still young in the rap game, he’s already recognized the single-biggest hurdle in Northeast Ohio — haters. So he’s made it his goal to change this prevailing mind-set one song and one show at a time.
“People doubt the quality of the music,” KeilyN said. “They think just because the music isn’t on a bigger scale that it’s not as good. But my music is just as good or better than what you’ll hear on the radio.”