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Tampa Bay Times


 Artist of the day: J. Keyes
 Monday, May 25, 2015

Inspired by national rappers from his home state of Ohio, rapper Julius “J. Keyes” Keyeswants to use Tampa as a springboard to inspire people worldwide.

“I saw Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s video Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” Keyes said. “Once I saw how my peers reacted to the video and the fact that they were from Cleveland, Ohio, I said that’s what I want to do in my life.”

After a stint as a college radio DJ and performances honing his craft in local venues, Keyes is eying bigger audiences. Already his first video, Amazing, has amassed more than 100,000 views on YouTube and his second, Straight Like That, has been viewed more than 70,000 times.

Keyes also knows his marriage to an Air Force member will help expose him to new audiences.
“A wife in the Air Force gives me the ability to flood different markets and collaborate with different artists and spread my fan base,” Keyes said. “It gives me the ability to travel to places local artists won’t be able to go. I look at it as touring without paying for anything because the military takes good care of us. To me it’s truly a blessing.”

J. Keyes is now working on his first full length album and planning his first tour. He is also working on his next video, slated for release in October.

— Michael Lortz