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Kasim Keto

Kasim Keto

Born in Brooklyn and raised by Jamaican immigrant parents, Kasim Keto finds his influences in a wide range of places and experiences. Growing up in an impoverished household he saw music as a method of escape and an outlet for creative expression. At sixteen years-old he began cutting school and unlike his peers his days were not spent in relaxation but working through the ranks of various studios to learn pro audio gear in an effort to hone his talent as a producer. 


After releasing numerous online projects to critical acclaim Kasim blends hip-hop and electro into a cohesive musical journey on his debut album Long Car Rides (released at the end of 2013, through Babygrande Records). 


RiCo for CZB: What was it like growing up in multicultural Brooklyn, the most populated borough of New York City?

Kasim Keto: Well, I was born in Brooklyn but I was actually raised in South Jamaica, Queens which is actually extremely multicultural as well - but the neighborhood I lived in was predominantly black American, but growing up in a multicultural place does tremendous things for your influences appreciation for different traditions and it inspires some serious wanderlust. I wouldn't trade that for anything because you realize how interwoven human beings are and what tradition and the value of said practices means to different people all over the world. It's truly educational and inspiring.


RiCo for CZB: Is there a Jamaican tradition you grew up with that you haven't given up on?

Kasim Keto: To be honest, my parents separated when I was very young and my father worked pretty hard all the time, aside from his extremely eclectic tastes in music and film - which played a huge role in my love for music, traditions were something i rarely experienced at home. It wasn't until I met my wife that I got a chance to truly experience a lot of Jamaican traditions such as Nine Nights after a death of a loved one. A lot of cultures make up the Jamaican culture, hence the motto "Out Of Many One People" so the tradition is truly a fusion from different cultures, from China to India.


CZB: You wrote your first songs when you were 8. When do you consider you first realized that music means more to you than anything else?

Kasim Keto: Around that very time, honestly. I can remember sitting in my living room and listening to music and the feeling it gave me was incredible… I truly felt alive, I felt human… All I knew is that I wanted to spend the rest of my life trying to give people that feeling. It was the only thing that made me feel unique and like I had an ability that exceed my own life. It is in perfect alignment to the type of human being I am. Everything is about passion and connection with me and music allows that little boy to survive to this day. 


CZB: Is there a track on your new album that uses a theme from one of the songs you wrote when you were just a boy?

Kasim Keto: Maybe a track like Belong which is a track where I am singing about my unwillingness to quit doing what I love what has given me a voice when I felt I had none or was too afraid to speak. That has been one of the most consistent themes of my music since I was a child. Love, passion and devotion from one perspective or another.



CZB: This is your debut album, but you have released numerous online projects in the past… give me some examples - and what genres have you been especially keen on?

Kasim Keto: Well two projects that I'm especially proud of is That's Why He Made and The Most Beautiful & Loving Thing In The World.

The first (That's Why He Made) was inspired by a friend who passed away tragically and her very turbulent love life. I dedicated Long Car Rides partially in her memory. It incorporated Hip Hop, Soul, R&B, Jazz, Rock and a little bit of electronica. 

The other (The Most Beautiful & Loving Thing In The World) was a Gospel "mix" inspired by my son Salim-Amani and our journey growing in faith over the last year, it also tackles questions of God's existence, evil's deception and faith above all. When I make music unless there is a specific theme that I'm shooting for I very rarely say i only want this genre …for me it's all about creating the sound that best fits the emotion or tells the story and I'm very willing to bounce around to achieve that goal. 


CZB: Long Car Rides… what was your longest car drive so far and was it for business or pleasure? 

Kasim Keto: The longest car ride i've experienced as a driver was from NYC to the port that took us to Martha's Vineyard, that was about 5 hours or so and it was for a show we were doing out there. I was exhausted, but though there was no real destination I think hours wise I've exceeded that with a few overnight drives aimlessly around Long Island and NYC in deep thought. 


CZB: Why did you feel you should go with instrumental tracks, that have little or no vocal support? This gives the music a taste of ambient New Age music, such as in TellLieVision or Who Knows

Kasim Keto: Whenever I create a track no matter the purpose I always begin to hum a melody to myself. I have such a deep respect for harmony and those who can achieve it with their voice, before I began working with Sephida Nacikah Bahtlevi Artis I wanted to translate that vibe to the tracks, I wanted it to be just visible enough in the mix to be a fleeting thought, maybe it's there, maybe it isn't. Sometimes it has a body - sometimes its just a phrase or two lingering around. When Sephida came into town she was able to expand on that vision with a few background vocals for Telllievision... I look forward to collaborating on my vocal ideas with Artists such as herself. 



CZB: What car would you like to own and why?

Kasim Keto: I've always had a serious affinity and connection with California and the west coast culture altogether since I was very young and I've been blessed enough to go out there to see my sister in law for a few years now, Lowriders are a not so secret obsession of mine. The idea of driving a 67 Lincoln Continental down Sunset Blvd and hitting a switch... gives me a feeling I can't explain. When I'm east coasting however I have developed an eye for Audi's, there's something about that logo against black matte paint, tented windows that just seems right. I would be interested in driving a lot of the newer models on a city night. 


CZB: How did you feel when you found out about Michael Jackson's death?

Kasim Keto: In a word Shocked, a part of my childhood passed with that man. 

Like many other kids I was obsessed and so was my son when he was a lot younger. There aren't enough words to express what he was to me and this form of human expression so for fear of droning on I won't try but let's just say, at the end of the day, people with such a legacy as his, never truly die. 


CZB: How did you feel when you found out about Nelson Mandela's passing away?

Kasim Keto: I felt a lot of things, especially at this point in my life. 

It made me look at what it is to be a man, look at the some of the things that he had to fit into one human experience, imprisonment, torture and so on and still he managed to become not just a symbol of peace and hope but also forgiveness, forward thinking and social evolution. All politics aside, his experience taught us how much we still have to learn about what it is to be human. His memory will always serve as a reminder of that forever. 


Interview conceived by RiCo






Long Car Rides Tracklist

1. Intro

2. Antseed

3. Wounded Knee

4. Rat Race

5. Facing

6. Belong

7. Pusher

8. Through

9. Long Way

10. TellLieVision

11. Nova

12. Who Knows

13. HisHandsUnderstand

14. I Can’t

15. Cause & Creation

16. Hurrywait

17. So Much Pain

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