Keysha Freshh is a powerhouse on the mic, lyrical mastermind and overall one of Toronto’s top female MCs. In the male-dominated world of MCing, Keysha holds a light to any of her peers, with her old-school swag and new-school rhythms, her repertoire is beyond her years. Her outstanding talent and drive have earned her the accolade of youngest, female Canadian artist to have three songs in 12 months on the airwaves, and she’s only just beginning to make her mark.
Over the last few years, Keysha has worked with some of the top artists in the industry such as Mims, Doug E. Fresh and P Reign. Now, this lil’sister of hip-hop is all grown-up and ready to make a fresh impact on the music scene with a new album entitled In Samadhi on the horizon.
A first-generation Canadian, Keysha begun her foray into the arts at a very young age and started writing, singing and acting at five years old. With unwavering support from her parents, she continued to pursue music, and in her teens became heavily influenced by Jay Z, Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott whose creativity and originality embodied what she hoped to portray.
By tenth grade, she released her first single Hollywood Fresh and later shot an accompanying music video in New York City. Shortly after, she released her second single Made It Look Easy featuring Bassline & JB. It’s during this period, she established key connections in the U.S. that helped propel her career; and although she calls Toronto home, she’s found many of her opportunities in New York and continues to work in tandem between the two cities.
“There’s opportunity (in Toronto) but as far as sustainability I don’t think that exists right now. We don’t have the proper structure; we don’t have an attractive business structure for music to really flourish here. Not to say that that’s not happening, there are people who are trying to make that happen — maybe in the next five years because Toronto has a lot of talented artists, and a lot of hungry artists. I definitely think people are realizing that more, and things are going to start to change as far as the landscape,” explains Keysha.
As things evolve, Keysha remains focused on bringing a unique voice to the stage, wherever that stage may be. “I feel what my difference is and what sets me apart is my particular sound, it’s not over sexualized hip-hop, it’s just keeping real raw, gritty and incorporating Caribbean sounds. The feeling that I get, that I bring to my music and it sets me apart from what everyone else is doing,” says Keysha.
When Keysha is not writing, recording or travelling, she teaches a hip-hop class to youths called Bridging the Gap: The history of hip-hop then and now, something she sites as one of her proudest accomplishments. “The reward is being able to use the talent that you have and to pass it along and teach the younger generation; that’s more rewarding to me than anything I’ve done.”
And for anyone who’s hoping to follow in her footsteps, she has two pieces of advice for you: “Take everything with a grain of salt, things are going to come at you and it’s all going to seem like glitter and gold but you have to think about your future” and “…a lot of us don’t have money to do everything that we want to do when we first come out so bartering, trading your skill to get what you want is something that a lot of artists can do.”
What artists are you a fan of right now? Roy Woods & Tory Lanez
Who is your favourite Toronto artist? Saukrates
What’s the most fun you’ve had recently? Team Backpack Cypher, livestream for Huffington Post and a movie audition — all in one week!
Team Backpack Cypher for International Women’s Day