Jon Keith Dishes on Reach Collabs & His ‘Keeping it Movin’ Work Ethic
Last week, we spoke with Jon Keith about the trepidation he felt on releasing his critically acclaimed project Olympus and what the reception to it was. This week he shares on what it was like to work with his musical heroes and his uncanny ability to not get burnt out creatively.
What was the process like for you to be on Summer 19 for “Switches” and “This Christmas” off of The Gift? You got 50% of the seasons on lock now (laughing).
For “This Christmas” Ruslan just told me that Reach is dropping a Christmas project so I wrote my verse, sent it in, and that was it. For “Switches” that was different because I thought that was just gonna be a stand-alone track with me Joey, and DJ Mykael V. It was at the Unashamed tour when I heard that it would be on Reach’s Summer 19 playlist. Lecrae came up to me and said, “Yo that song is great. We can’t wait to put it out.” I had no idea what he was talking about and in my mind, I was thinking “did someone send him something from Olympus?” Then he told me it was “Switches” and everything cleared up.
Did you adapt or change the track at all or was the song pretty much done at that point?
(Laughing) I didn’t even know seni. was on it until a week before it came out. All I heard prior to release was a bit of Joey’s verse. The mix came out really well though.
You’ve been in your bag. In 2018 alone you put out two albums and were featured on too many singles to count. How do you create high-quality content at such a pace and avoid burnout?
I’m not sure what it’s like to not get burnt out. Right now, I actually have to keep myself from moving forward onto the next album. I don’t know why…there’s something wrong with me (laughing). I finish a project and I say “Okay…next one.” I have the next two albums I want to do already planned out in my mind. My struggle is needing to have the patience to let a project breathe.
Has your work ethic changed at all by being signed to a label like Kings Dream? Have you always had this mentality and work ethic even when you were indie that just got heightened when you got signed?
I’ve always been like that. The thing is I’m a perfectionist but also terribly impatient. Not a great combo. I want a project to be perfect, but I also want it to be out yesterday. Someone also told me no album is ever finished…you just set the deadline.
Can you still enjoy your projects, or can you only see the flaws in them upon release?
The funny thing is that Olympus, in my mind, was supposed to come out in May. But I had to drop after Ruslan released Indie Jones III. I was frustrated initially, but it worked out perfectly. God’s timing is better than ours. There were a bunch of people who had never heard of me and then they heard the Reach playlist and then they see that I had a brand-new album out and then they were able to listen to it.
That’s neat it all came together that way. You have the next two albums planned out but what does the rest of the year look like for you?
In the vein of patience, I’ll be pushing this album more to create more demand for music.
For the young Jon Keith’s out there who have grown up in the CHH scene, submitting their music to Rapzilla and New H2O…what advice do you have for them? Whether they’re an artist, gift in marketing etc.
I would just say be patient and trust God. There were so many times when I was like “man I don’t know if I’ll really be able to do this” but I also know that God called me to make music. There were times when I got too much in my head cuz nothing was happening fast enough, but God’s timing is always better.
I remember one time how I could have waited in line at an Andy Mineo concert to show him my music and maybe we could have gotten connected that way. How it actually happened was I got invited to his house in New York and actually had a moment to sit down and talk with him. He knew of my music already through social media and stuff. I just had to be patient and let God take care of what he was going to take care of.
What does it mean to be a Rapzilla freshman for you?
It’s pretty crazy. Like I said, I grew up listening to Christian rap and seeing Rapzilla all over the place. I used to submit my music all the time to get Rapzilla to promote it and it would be such a big thing if I were to get the smallest article. To be a freshman now…that’s crazy.
Okay this is the big question: will we get a Jon Keith stand-up in the future? Can’t keep the humor solely to the Insta stories man.
(Laughs) Probably not but you know it’s not in the plans but nothing’s impossible.