Highlighting Kee-Words

Newport-based wordsmith cooks up a mean platter
By CHRIS CONTI  |  January 16, 2014


Real-deal homegrown hip-hop is alive and well in majestic Newport, of all places. Just ask 27-year-old wordsmith Kee-Words, who recently dropped his hefty debut album, MPC, Myself, and I, a stacked 20-track platter.

“That’s actually one of the things that inspires me — these preconceived notions of ‘typical’ Newport,” said Kee-Words (aka Keehln Edwards) when I checked in earlier this week and mentioned the regal air of Aquidneck Island. “I like that my music shows that different side that people don’t get to see, while being relatable to people who live it.”

Edwards was raised in a small apartment in one of the few projects in Newport and became immersed in rap music around age 11 when he bought Biggie’s Born Again on cassette and a DJ Red Alert mixtape from the local Walgreens. Shortly after, his uncle Tone Kuiee introduced him to the Music Production Center, or MPC, and Edwards started banging away while becoming increasingly intrigued with the lyrical side of rap music. He attended Rogers High but dropped out in 2003 (eventually earning his GED) and pays the bills as a chef.

Both professions recently coincided when Edwards was cooking at a party where legendary producer Keith Shocklee (of PE’s Bomb Squad) was DJing. Kee-Words passed along a copy of his debut to Shocklee.

“I just hope he likes it enough to not use it as a coaster,” he cracked.

Kee-Words was inspired by the unique rhyme delivery of guys like Busta, Redman, Andre3000, and Eminem. And, like Marshall Mathers, Kee can capture ears in heart-on-sleeve mode while slaying swag-loving posers. On “Streetlights” he goes in with rapid-fire cadence: “If I ain’t in the booth rippin’ up a damn record/I’m in the kitchen flippin’ pans with my pants checkered.” One of the album’s best tracks, “Treat Me Bad,” follows, with the choice lines, “I’m just maintainin’ and survivin’ while I’m wilin’ on this island but somehow my problems seem to keep on pilin’ ” and “I rip the mic with bruised hands, ironical cracker buyin’ crackers with food stamps.” Kee is “on point like Dracula’s teeth” on“To Whom It May Concern” and offers a stern reply to his niece when she asks why he doesn’t rock “Skinny Jeans”: “Never chose to play it safe, music’s been my saving grace/Hopefully one day it will save me from making plates.”

Edwards addresses his older brother Charles on "Streetlights.” He says, “My brother was going through a hard time and decided he was going to post up in our attic and drop notes for me to deliver to his girlfriend,” he recalled. “It only lasted a few days and I’m still not sure what the hell he was thinking."

He also penned "Missing You," a heartfelt track for his deceased father. “Writing that song was more of a relief for me because it felt like I actually got to talk to him, but I think it was more difficult for people close to me to listen to,” he said.

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