Keys thinks you got the wrong impression of her. The 21-year-old Baltimore rapper says she earned a reputation as a bully because of her diss videos directed toward Nicki Minaj that were released online earlier this year. The videos have since received over 1,000,000 views on YouTube and lead her to a management deal with Violator. But Keys says it was never her intention to get fame by picking on a celebrity rapstress.
“I never expected the first video to blow up like it did. It wasn’t that serious for me. It started from a conversation I was having about Nicki Minaj, coming from the club one day with my friends,” Keys tells VIBE. “I didn’t like that she said she killed every rap bitch in the game so [the song] was me telling her to shut up because nobody can really say what hip-hop is. I feel like hip-hop is an art form and everybody has their own idea of what it is. In my book, I don’t feel she brings what my idea of hip-hop is so the video was me saying it’s people like me, underground artists who are like, ‘You didn’t kill every rap bitch in the building.’ And it just happens to be that a lot of people agree with me.”
Although Keys says she never intended to pursue music, one of the highlights of her early career was recently hopping on stage with Lil Kim to take shots at Nicki.
“[Lil Kim] already had her personal issues with Nicki Minaj and it just so happened that we felt the same way about the same person at the same time,” explains Keys. “[Kim] was already saying that she liked my lyrical delivery and thought that I had potential so when she came to B’More she wanted me to be in the spotlight and address the issues that I have. It was important for me to do because a lot of people think I have this thing where I don’t care about any other girl in the game and I’m tying to use [Nicki Minaj’s] name to get fame and that’s not true. Me and Lil Kim’s styles are totally different but I still respect her because she’s another girl in the game and she’s Lil’ Kim. She really did lay groundwork.”
Keys’ new focus is promoting her mixtape, The Infiltration, released a few weeks ago. The still unsigned newbie has a lot to prove. “In hip-hop, our men promote money and sex and all of that, and when a female comes in, in order for her to run in the lane that these guys are running in she feels she has to play the role of the kind of girls that they talk about [like] the girls with big asses who are doing all that sucky sucky [but] I’m a completely different type of girl. I’m smart and I’m like, ‘Fuck you nigga I will shoot you!'" says Keys, adding that she never planned to attack Nicki Minaj in Baltimore contrary to rumors.
“In hip-hop they promote the Nicki Minaj type of girl [but] the real people in the culture don’t respect that," she continues. "Back in the day we had intellectual people that had something to say. I want to represent the truth. I want to be able to go to the club too but at the same time I want to bring intellect and uplift the people and just try to bring a happy medium to the game." ⎯Starrene Rhett