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Keith Ape

Named after his favorite artist, Keith Haring, and his chosen spirit animal, Keith Ape brought Seoul to the trap house on his breakout 2015 hit, "It G Ma." With his bleached disheveled locks and punk-meets-Bathing-Ape aesthetic, he crafted a hallucinogenic image similar to American contemporaries like Lil Uzi Vert and Flatbush Zombies. His debut EP, Born Again, arrived in 2018. Born Dongheon Lee in Bundang, South Korea, the rapper was a self-proclaimed problem child who found an outlet in hip-hop, following idols Nas and AZ. He dropped out of high school to pursue music, first adopting the moniker Kid Ash for his 2010 debut. The music he uploaded to the Internet caught the attention of the Cohort crew, who welcomed Keith in 2012. He was featured on Cohort crewmate Okasian's debut, Boarding Procedures, and developed his own buzz with a dub of a Bobby Shmurda track, which he rechristened "Hot Ninja." It wasn't until the OG Maco-influenced "It G Ma" arrived on New Year's Day in 2015 that Keith's trajectory would drastically shift. Originally a joint Korean-Japanese collaboration with rappers Kohh, Loota, JayAllDay, and Okasian, the menacing trap track exploded both in Korea and overseas, especially with Koreans in the United States. Keith signed with 88Rising, riding the success of the single and performing at SXSW and in Los Angeles and New York City. A remix of "It G Ma" -- which translates to "Never Forget" -- featured A$AP Ferg, Father, Dumbfoundead, and Waka Flocka Flame. Keith followed the viral success of "It G Ma" with the horror show production "Psycho" (featuring Robb Bank$) and "Diamonds" (featuring Jedi P). "Gospel," a collaborative track with Rich Brian and XXXTENTACION, was released in 2017, followed a few months later by "Achoo," featuring Ski Mask the Slump God. The following year he joined his 88Rising cohort on Head in the Clouds, a crew compilation that featured his contribution "Japan 88." Later in 2018 he issued his debut EP, Born Again, which included the single "Ninja Turtle" with Wifisfuneral.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo


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