Earlier this year, Keith Ape dropped the MV for his track ‘It G Ma (잊지마)’ which recently surpassed 4 million views on YouTube. Despite the continued controversy over the track “It G Ma” and the alleged “cultural appropriation” of American hip-hop (more specifically, OG Maco’s “U Guessed It”), Keith Ape’s presence in the US is now greater than ever. Korean hip-hop magazine HIPHOPPLAYA sat down with Keith Ape’s record label HILITE Records to discuss this matter.
HIPHOPPLAYA: “It G Ma” recently passed 4 million hits on YouTube. Did you ever expect this sort of outcome?
HILITE: When Keith Ape played the hook for “It G Ma” for the first time, we immediately liked it. We remember Keith Ape telling us that this will be the single of 2015.
HIPHOPPLAYA: When “It G Ma” first dropped in January, the response was positive from OGG [OG Maco’s label]. However, OG Maco more recently criticized the track through an interview and various Tweets. This was followed by a photo of both Keith Ape and OG Maco [at SXSW 2015]. What happened?
HILITE: The two met recently at the SXSW festival. Despite the obvious tension in the air, the two shared a meaningful and constructive conversation. Let’s forget the past.
HIPHOPPLAYA: Can we expect a collaboration with OGG?
HILITE: When the time is right, we believe there will be a creative collaboration between the two parties.
HIPHOPPLAYA: How did Keith Ape come about performing at the SXSW festival this year?
HILITE: Keith Ape is currently supported by record label in Los Angeles called Cash Only. Great people.
HIPHOPPLAYA: Keith Ape shared the stage with Korean artists Okasian and JayAllday in New York.
HILITE: All three are part of The Cohort crew. JayAllday, who has great connections with artists overseas, reached out to others and made this possible.
HIPHOPPLAYA: How did the collaboration between Keith Ape and Azizi Gibson come about?
HILITE: After “It G Ma” blew up, Keith Ape and JuniorChef (“It G Ma” co-producer) was reached out by various artists overseas. Through FaceTime, Keith Ape shared his other music to Azizi Gibson and vice versa, which ended up in a collaboration.
HIPHOPPLAYA: I feel like this is just the beginning of his growth. Given that this was an abrupt trip to the US, what if Keith Ape decides not to return to South Korea?
HILITE: We hope that he stays busy enough overseas to remain in the US. We kept this quiet but we were reached out by several international contacts. As a Korean hip-hop artist, Keith Ape is experiencing a unique phenomena. Keith Ape needs to seize this opportunity and continue to surprise everyone while receiving the support he deserves. This is truly a miracle.
HIPHOPPLAYA: The fifth year anniversary of HILITE Records is coming up. Any plans for this year?
HILITE: Artists are working hard to complete and release their respective work, which will be celebrated with the fans on stage. Let us continue the movement together.