Artist to Watch: Baltimore Rapper Keys

Nicki Minaj might want to watch her back.

By: Amanda Anderson

Nicki Minaj has found plenty success without even releasing an album. She’s climbed the billboard charts with some of the hottest collaborations in Hip-Hop, worked with some of the biggest artists in the game that would take other rookies a platinum album to get closer to, and ignited a movement in Hip-Hop that has every female rapper from the past reconsidering picking back up a mic once again. And with that type of success, it’s no surprise that it’s a few artists old and on the come up who plan to take out the Head Barbie. And by the looks of her lyrical abilities, it might not be wise for Minaj to swat at Baltimore native Keys like she’s some annoying fly hovering over her meal.

Keys came busting on the scene in a recent Youtube freestyle that has already raked in over 1 million views. Minaj was the main target in the freestyle, and it was evident that the up and coming emcee isn’t a fan of the Barbie Movement.

While Minaj fans quickly labeled her as a desperate hater, Hip-Hop heads noticed that Keys had enough talent to back up the attack. Her lyrics were pretty dope for a no name Baltimore rapper, and you have to give her a little credit for taking it old school and going after one of the hottest female rappers of the moment on Youtube.

Some say it’s hating, but Hip-Hop heads know that’s Hip-Hop. Emcees have been battling over beats since the beginning of the Hip-Hop movement, and to see a young female rapper with no major label or major musical influence backing her up having the balls to go after Lil’ Wayne’s hottest artist is impressive by far. So impressive that it led her a deal with Violator Management. And for all of you that don’t know, Violator Management is the same team that manages Mariah Carey, Diddy, Swizz Beatz, 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, and many others. And that’s just the beginning for Keys; labels are making the necessary moves to sign the young woman who went after Minaj on Youtube.

Nicki took the high road and tried to ignore Keys as long as she could. But eventually she made a response video in which she proclaimed that Keys was too much of a nobody to respond to.

While it may be classy from a real world perspective, it was pretty cowardly in a Hip-Hop perspective. I would have loved more than anything to see Minaj go after Keys, and I think that would have made people take female emcees more seriously if they witnessed them play the game like the legends did.

Besides, everyone starts off as a nobody. Even Notorious B.I.G. started off rapping on the street corner in New York. Does that mean you let them rip you apart lyrically on Youtube? I think not Nicki.

And if Keys wasn’t enough for Minaj to address, rapper Lil’ Kim has been going after both Minaj and Drake for the last couple of months. In interviews and recent performances, Kim’s taken some pretty not so subtle shots at Young Money’s biggest stars.

And to make matters worse, she’s hooked up with Keys to make her message of disapproval for the new Barbie pretty clear. Drake might say Kim is irrelevant, but Jay-Z must not agree because a couple weeks later he signed her to the Roc.

Of course I would love for all the female emcees to unite and rip the track together, but I would also like for them to put on their big girl panties and show us that they can handle their own lyrically. I don’t mind Minaj and Keys battling each other like the legends used to, but I would love it more if all the female emcees came together and gave women who love Hip-Hop something to be proud of. Can we get the rappers back that can be sick on the mic and sick on the fashion tip too? Minaj is hot right now, but there’s no comparison between her previous work, and her Young Money tracks. Minaj has real talent, and instead she’s been reduced to a pretty Barbie Doll who’s body is more commendable than her lyrics.

But in the meantime, Keys isn’t the type of emcee to be slept on. And those that want to sleep might need to wake up and pay close attention. This Baltimore native went from a rap diss Youtube style to a deal with the one and only Violator Management. Sorry barbies, but Keys won’t be going back under that rock you believed she came from or that dark alley in Baltimore you’d hope she return to.

Expect the female rap game to get a lot more interesting in the next year.


  1. Keys killed Nicki Minaj! Nicki can act like all these other female rappers are irrelevant if she wants to, and lose some major respect. If Lil' Wayne didn't back her, she'd still be gutter like she was in her earlier days. This Barbie mess ain't cutting it!

  2. Okay Nicki Minaj isn't the best female rapper to step into the game, but why does she strike such a nasty chord with women? I mean she's a young woman going after her dreams. She did what she had to do to get noticed, so why does everyone hate her so much? I mean if she wasn't exactly how she is right now, would we even be talking about her now?I don't think so. Can't be mad at her for doing what she had to do to get to where she is now. At least she did it musically, and not by sexing all those dirty industry dudes.

  3. I will bed Nicki Minaj any time of the day, but she can't rap to save her life. Even the old school Female Mc's (MC Lyte, Salt n Peppa, Money Love, Queen Latifah) would murder her with 2 bars. Music wise Nicki is a joke, but she sure knows how to cover her lack of rhyme skills with an abundance of derriere.In response to Anonymous (July 7): Do you really think Lil Wayne saw the musical potential in Nicki? You just said she is not the best rapper in the game (To be honest, I havn't heard anything worse then her) yet accourding to you she has musically worked her way up…That does not make any sense. the fact is: She is marketable because she's extremely hot and every man wants to bang her. Sex sells, Nicki sells. Please don't think that her skills got her where she is right now, please don't.BTW, I got a business idea for Nicki: Get sponsored by a tissue company

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