Some people just have it, that indefinable thing that comprises one-half talent with a healthy dose of determination and a small dash of good fortune. Artist-musician and all-around good guy Keyon Dunston – professionally known as red hot music prodigy IamKeyNotes – has all of the above and, if that’s not enough, he also serves proudly in the U.S. Army.
To find out more about the man who is currently rewriting the caste system in the music industry, Vents Magazine sat down with the man who has one of the hottest singles in the world right now with the incandescent and utterly addictive songs Buss It Down and Whip.
Vents: Hi IamKeyNotes, welcome to Vents Magazine! Before we get too far down the proverbial rabbit hole, how have you been doing during these historic and tumultuous times?
IamKeyNotes: Thank you for having me. These are really hard times, but have also been quite the blessing at the same time. People in the music industry have slowed down just enough for me to gain effective long term relationships with them and good networking. Although it has slowed my progress to achieving big stage goals I have been building a major platform for the future to come.
Vents: A big part of who you are as a musical artist seems to come from the years of military service that you have given to our country; first of all – THANK YOU for your service. Secondly, how exactly has your time in the U.S. Army directed the course of your musical career as an artist and as a human being?
IamKeyNotes: Thank you very much; it has been a long road. The Army is indeed a major part of who I am, I fully understand all the factors of team work and adaptation. It has taught me the key factors of leadership, how to lead and how to take care of my people. But aside from the knowledge I have gained, it has kept me out of the street and kept me from making horrible decisions that could have put me behind bars, because I see the bigger picture and earned too much to lose.
Vents: Has it been difficult to balance your efforts in the U.S. Army alongside your music?
IamKeyNotes: It has been very difficult. There are many limitations for me that I used to feel hindered me from success, until I learned to use that to my advantage. Balancing both is very hard but that just means I have to work three times harder than the average artist.
Vents: What can you tell Vents readers about your single Buss It Down? What was the genesis of this song?
IamKeyNotes: One phone call changed everything. After creating my single Whip ft. Ty Dolla $ign, I spoke with Crash of Stardom management, alongside Brandon Carter and Yung Digz about doing a big feature song. Stardom Management provided me the resources and connections to make this happen on top of Crash having helped produce the record we knew it would be a banger.
Vents: You collaborated on Buss It Down with major artists Dababy and Petey Pablo. What was that like for you?
IamKeyNotes: This was an unbelievable feeling at first, to work with them. It’s always love shown and a lot of energy. I definitely look forward to the future with those guys and this record.
Vents: How does it feel to see Buss It Down climbing the Billboard charts? Is it a little surreal?
IamKeyNotes: Honestly I never considered I would be on the Billboard charts, I got a phone call from my managers telling me that I was number 27, I had no idea how to feel. Now seeing that I have reached number 3, I’m like, “Whoa ok, what does this mean now?” Not a lot of people are fortunate and make it there, I wasn’t aware. But knowing now, I am blessed and amped up ready for the next big release.
Vents: Is there anyone that you would like to work with in the industry that you’ve just not had the opportunity to do so with yet?
IamKeyNotes: Yes I have to say T. Grizzly; bro is a monster.
Vents: Can you give Vents readers any hints about what you might have coming up next; perhaps an album?
IamKeyNotes: Definitely an EP and this EP has legends on it with me. It’s truly an amazing project and I can’t wait to release it.
Vents: Speaking of things that are next: Touring is such a huge part of the music industry. How has the coronavirus altered that particular model for you and what are you doing to supplant the concert going experience for fans?
IamKeyNotes: We are in the process of working shows out now. Corona has definitely slowed this portion down for me and many others. The money that I could be making would really be a life changer but shows keep cancelling and changing every day. So I will definitely say this is really hurting my career to some degree.
Vents: Has your family been supportive of your music career?
IamKeyNotes: It took a while to prove myself to family, but that’s how it is; they just care. They never wanted to see me fail. I am just happy now that all of my hard work is starting to pay off and show them that this is real.
Vents: The question you must get all of the time – Where did your artist name, IamKeyNotes come from?
IamKeyNotes: Well that name has started in too many places lol. From K.Smoke, to K. Notes, to Key Notes, and finally I decided to make a statement with my name; IamKeyNotes. It’s a statement and also it eliminates all confusion when searching for me on ANYTHING.
Vents: Where does all of your love and passion for hip hop – and music in general – spring from?
IamKeyNotes: It really springs from the talent alone, being able to put words together and create vibes for people. Also, just the fact that I know I can inspire people to accomplish whatever their dreams are; this is what keeps my blood pumping for this.
Vents: You are an excellent songwriter, which marks you as a real innovator in the hip hop field (or any genre of music, for that matter!). Which comes first for you, the words or the music?
IamKeyNotes: That’s a hard one; they are both very important to me. I will definitely say the words, because the content in songs has to be A1 for me to have a vibe from it.
Vents: Final (Silly) Question: What is your favorite movie that revolves around music?
IamKeyNotes: “8 Mile” hands down!