88-Keys debuts first album after 12 years
Charles Misodi Njapa, better known as 88-Keys, has been around for more than 12 years. This is surprising when you consider his debut album, The Death of Adam, was released in November 2008. He’s also known in the hip-hop community as one of the finest producers, producing for artists such as Musiq Soulchild, Talib Kweli and Mos Def.
Putting out his first studio album was a two-year process that stemmed from his frustration as a producer.
‘It was getting tough for me to get tracks placed because the industry just wasn’t too kind to me. I kind of fell out of sight and off the radar,’ Njapa said. ‘I just decided that instead of chasing other people’s coattails and getting involved with other projects, I would just get involved with my own and make beats for myself.’
The Death of Adam was a risky project because it’s a concept album. The album tells the story of Adam’s sexual conquests, a character in the album’s story. The concept is something that is easy to relate to, but is a risky venture for a hip-hop artist who is trying to make it.
‘It was the best (idea) I ever had, to be honest. It all seems to have worked out for the best though, for things like the critical acclaim for the album,’ Njapa said.
Although the album’s title is a bit dark, the album is light-hearted and comedic which was important for 88-Keys going into the project.
‘That’s pretty much who I am as a person on a day to day basis, my whole persona is about having fun. You can just tell from the music that I had a lot of fun making it,’ Njapa said.
The name 88-Keys is a bit ironic, considering he doesn’t know how to play the keyboard. His production style heavily relies heavily on samples, which he manipulates to create songs that he wants.
‘I had never considered myself a rapper and never had the dreams of being one, but I had to be involved somehow besides buying the tapes and playing them,’ Njapa said. ‘I just try to make the best music I could possibly make with the usage of samples.’