J-Key is proud to call Everett home.
The 29-year-old rapper — whose single “Crazy” has been streamed more than 100,000 times on YouTube — will kick off Everett Music Initiative’s HOMEBODIES 2 streaming series on April 19.
The EMI is bringing back its HOMEBODIES streaming series, this time promoting seven musicians and seven nonprofits from the Everett area, so you can watch performances from your home.
Through HOMEBODIES 2, set for April 19-25, fans can watch video recordings of musicians performing on EMI’s Facebook page. Each set will include five to seven songs.
“There is likely some fatigue with streaming, so we aren’t doing as many performances, but we feel to continue our mission to help artists interact with fans is important,” said Ryan Crowther, EMI founder. “Given, we’re not going to be able to do live events for a few more months, it was important to get another streaming event going.”
In addition to J-Key, also performing for HOMEBODIES 2 are Sarah Feinberg from TELLERS and I Will Keep Your Ghost as SYLVI, rock group Clothing Optional, Brad Heyne’s of TELLERS new project FUNERALHOMES, Americana band Fretland, folk-rock band Shoecraft and Steel Beans, a psychedelic funk-rock group.
“We really wanted to feature artists who are continuing to be active during this last year, whether that means releasing new music or simply engaging with fans,” Crowther said. “It’s been a difficult and challenging year, but that activity is a good sign.”
New this year, the Everett Music Initiative is partnering with a local nonprofit to present each performance. Links will be provided so you can donate to the nonprofit or the musician they’ve partnered with via PayPal.
Featured nonprofits are the NAACP of Snohomish County, Schack Art Center, Cocoon House, Snohomish County Music Project, Bridgeways, The Daily Herald’s Investigative Journalism Fund and Leadership Snohomish County.
“We respect the missions of these nonprofits,” Crowther said. “It’s just a fun opportunity to get to work together in a more intimate fashion.”
Crowther said last year’s HOMEBODIES performances were a proven hit with more than 60,000 streams. All 40 or so shows are still available to stream on the EMI’s Facebook page.
Since its founding in 2012, the Everett Music Initiative has produced, promoted or partnered on more than 400 events, including the Fishermans Village Music Festival in May and the Wild Coyote Americana and Country Music Festival in October.
All of the events prior to 2020 were funded entirely by ticket sales and sponsorships. After COVID-19 hit, and all of its live shows were canceled, EMI had to adapt in response to the virus.
Everett Music Initiative has since entered into an agreement with the Snohomish County Music Project. It’s called a fiscal sponsorship. The arrangement makes Crowther’s organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions and apply for grants.
Crowther said it’s a first step in plans for his organization to become a nonprofit.
Along with fiscal sponsorship, Crowther launched a Founding Members program to encourage investment in the Everett Music Initiative. Contributors, through various tiers of donation, will get perks such as tickets to shows and invitations to VIP events.
Also known as Jay Key, J-Key has collaborated with Pac Div, Glasses Malone and the late Nipsey Hussle, shared the stage with the likes of Kid Ink, E-40 and Tech N9ne, and has performed for the KUBE 93.3 Summer Jam at the White River Amphitheater in Auburn.
Key launched his hip-hop career as J-Key 10 years ago. After graduating from Mariner High School, he studied business and psychology at Edmonds Community College, only to leave after two years to focus on recording and performing rap.
“Creating music doesn’t feel like work,” he said. “That’s what I love about it.”
He has recorded six projects in 10 years — not to mention all of his collaboration efforts with fellow rappers. His solo projects are “The Spark,” “The Potential,” “C-4,” “Commercial Airlines,” “Who’s Looking” and, most recently, the EP “Not a Kid Anymore” in 2015.
Key also has released a number of singles throughout his career, including “Stuck,” “The One,” “Right Now, “Heart” and “Early.” Most of his songs are produced by Mario Luciano, whose samples also serve as the backbones of tracks by such artists as H.E.R., YG and Wale.
Because of COVID-19, rather than working on another album, the artist is recording up to 50 music videos for yet-to-be-released songs. He plans to drop one new song and/or music video per month on YouTube, starting in April. Most of the music videos are filmed in and around Everett.
April’s single will be “Better Things,” which explains J-Key’s experience as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist. This one doesn’t have a music video.
“Even though things haven’t always been good for me — I know I’ll run into adversity — everything that has been done was in pursuit of better things,” he said.
His most famous single, “Crazy,” was released in 2019. The song starts with a soundbite from Tupac’s legendary locker scene in the 1992 crime thriller “Juice,” setting the tone not only for the single, but for the accompanying music video.
In the music video for “Crazy,” J-Key pays homage to “Juice” by playing Tupac’s character, Roland Bishop, a murderous teenager hell-bent on gaining power and respect in the streets of Harlem.
Key gives props to Luciano, also from Everett, for the beats he provides, especially for the sample that upped the popularity of “Crazy.”
“Pretty much everybody I work with is from Everett,” he said. “I’m proud to be where I’m from.”
If you stream
Everett Music Initiative’s HOMEBODIES 2 streaming series is set for 7 p.m. April 19 to April 25 via Facebook. Here is the performance and nonprofit partnership schedule:
April 19: J-Key and NAACP of Snohomish County
April 20: SYLVI and Schack Art Center
April 21: Clothing Optional and Cocoon House
April 22: FUNERALHOMES and Snohomish County Music Project
April 23: Fretland and Brideways
April 24: Shoecraft and The Daily Herald’s Investigative Journalism Fund
April 25: Steel Beans and Leadership Snohomish County