Seen performing circa the South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina circuits; Brian Keith Kennedy, Jr., performing as Keith More-Fire has been making tunes since around 2009 and combining a new school sense of smart with a retro heart. From East Orange, New Jersey beginnings to making the jump to Columbia, South Carolina (and currently making the move to Los Angeles); Keith caught a swift array of buzz with his singles “Sugar” & “Overcrowding” that have propelled him to the attention of folks from coast to coast. Gifted with the opportunity to learn how to play the violin & piano from a young age, Brian has taken his gift of arrangement & production to enrich his own craft of commanding both the mic & the beat decks.
“Lane Switch” echoes the stratospheres of classic hip hop construction & evolution that points to the places where 808s are met with floating atmospheres that further levitate Keith’s delivery. The connections combined with complications of multiple involved interests are the impetus that spurns this track toward a late night evening highway feel of cruising into those early hours of the AM long before the sun even begins to think about breaking out from the smoky-cloud sky. Brian Kennedy commands not just the flow but the production that stays in a hedonistic space that breaks down toward a significantly sedated & subterranean bound state in the last third of the song. The various maneuvers & movements that occur throughout the song that hinge around “you’ll probably notice when I leave” deal with the duplicitous natures of relationships, side folks & all the peoples that get mixed up in-between when the situation ends being anything less than honest. The production underscores the involved emotions in these dramas as well as the changes made that are needed to pursue greater & more realized goals & dreams with the appropriate interests that are totally on your team.
Describe how your NJ by South Carolina upbringing coupled with a diet of Now That’s What I Call Music compilations contributed to your own creative musical sensibilities.
The Now That’s What I Call Music compilations definitely benefited me musically by showing me that it is okay to cross genres, and still be able to make great music. By learning not to cling to one specific style I believed that I can become a better artist to a more open-minded audience who loves the sound, and I still believe that same notion today. With the move from NJ to South Carolina, I treated it with the same respect as the compilations as where I would take what I learned and the culture in NJ, and I would connect it with the culture and what’s happening now in South Carolina.
Interested in hearing about the making of your first mixtape back when you were still attending Columbia, SC’s Ridge View High and how that has informed your current recording pursuits.
Man, those mixtape days back in high school played a significant role into how I record my music today. I would pass around CDs to my friends and they would pass CDs out to their friends, and the feedback I would get back from everyone would be all too real. I loved it, and I loved sharing what I had to say to others and watch them be able to take what they heard me say and apply it to their own lives. I was just a kid with a dream of being heard for what I said and wanted to be able to make a change in the world with the words I said also. So now, I’m still pursuing the same thing that kept me determined to make those mixtapes back in high school and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
How have you found your own style has progressed?
I have a copy of the first song I ever made when I back at my grandmother’s house in 2009. The song is called “Cloud 9”, and I was rapping over some guy singing the chorus and also was rapping the verse. The most significant thing that I can say progressed since then is the fact that I am confident in the words I choose, and the way I articulate and introduce things to an audience. When I first started I was afraid that no one would like what I said, or I would get shamed for what I was talking about. But, I had to soon realize that the listener is the listener for a reason, and that’s because they want to listen to what you have to say. You can’t be shaky and hesitant when speaking, and the listener can’t be confident in you if you can’t show confidence in yourself.
What sorts of switching lanes & the like inspired your new single “Lane Switch”?
“Lane Switch” was inspired by a reoccurring dream I had, where I would be in this club and this woman would be dancing with me while telling me words in my ear. After a while of having this dream, I would try to figure who the girl was or what she wanted but I could never figure out. I later started talking to someone when I realized that something she did triggered a sort of Deja Vu and I noticed it right away. We would argue on and off and would switch from being the happiest ones in the world to the most annoying. I viewed switching lanes as the periods in a relationship where things shift and begin to switch up. Or, if you want to be simple, the time after the first date where the one you are talking to starts to show their true colors and you don’t know whether to run screaming or stay and wait it out. While relating it to my dream, I believe that it was my mind revealing to me something that I wanted but not necessarily needed.
What else can we expect from your new forthcoming release?
This new LP gets more personal, more affectionate, and more unconditional with extended songs that are bound to twist numerous heads. I love switching it up and showing everyone that I’m not afraid to try something different if I’m comfortable with it. With my last release I was focused more on completing the project then having actual fun with it, and that’s something I planned on changing on this one. I enjoyed the process, and I loved the creativity I explored on this one. The only thing left at this point is to broadcast it towards the world. Lane Switch was only the beginning piece.
Tell us too what’s good & happening with your #MOREFIREMONDAYS music series.
#MOREFIREMONDAYS is a music series that broadcasts a new song every Monday, but unfortunately, that has been put on hold for the production of the LP back in February. It is going to resume very soon now that production has ended, and I can’t wait to hear the response from those who have missed it since it’s been gone.
Who & what have you been listening to/watching/reading a lot of recently?
I always listen to 90s music along with some of the artists from the early 2000s. I try my best not to get caught up in the hype that is here today and gone in the next 8-12 months. It seems like it’s easier to weed out who is going to be here for a quick check and who is going to stay a while and make music for the long haul. A book I picked up from Barnes and Noble not too ago was Charlamagne Tha God’s new book Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It and it’s been a good read for me. As for things that I am watching, I keep Law and Order and House on repeat at my house. I can’t watch that Love and Hip-Hop or Housewives stuff personally. I try to keep my mind open to things that I can watch, read, or listen to though because you can find inspiration to create something with anything.
Summer plans for Keith More-Fire?
My summer plans consist of taking my daughter to Disney World, getting back in the gym, attending these summer classes in college, and releasing some more music for you guys to give your opinion on and enjoy.