Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Kerry “Krucial” Brothers: A Key component

Kerry “Krucial” Brothers
Kerry “Krucial” Brothers Kerry “Krucial” Brothers Kerry “Krucial” Brothers Kerry “Krucial” Brothers

Since the debut of Alicia Keys’ 2001 smash, 'Songs In "A" Minor', Kerry “Krucial” Brothers has become a highly sought after songwriting and producing talent. His classic contributions to Keys’ dynamic catalog create a mélange of sophisticated R&B married with raw and rugged hip hop beats.

His roles as a muse and creative silent partner have earned Krucial, or “K,” massive respect and accolades ranging from Grammy Awards to multimillion album sales. The dynamic self-defined artist takes about an hour and a half from his busy schedule for a phone interview with me; at the time, Krucial was collaborating with Robert Randolph and the Family Band in Los Angeles. In his exciting yet passionate tone, Krucial discusses his own musical efforts; entrepreneurial spirits and numerous collaborations with other artists.

In an ongoing music war fixated on digital instrumentation; catchy pop hooks and major label misdirection, Kerry “Krucial” Brothers has responded to the call of duty successfully. Equipped with an open ear for music; an acclaimed EP on his championship belt and a career-defining self-sufficient spirit as his major arsenal, Krucial is a forerunner in the music industry: a commander-in-chief setting out to change the game by creating some musical autonomy and an honest plan of action.

The Brooklyn-born; Harlem/Far Rockaway and Queens-raised producer and songwriter revisits his hip hop origins with his independent debut EP, Take Da Hood Back. The EP reflects Krucial’s ability to showcase his die hard passion for spittin’ hot bars, a talent he says is the foundation for his music. Not to mention, Krucial is of substance: a thought-provoking Renaissance man behind the recording console. The entire EP is self-produced, written, arranged, and performed all by Krucial.

Take Da Hood Back features melodic, dope beats combined with clever; precise and sincere lyricism that contrasts the smooth, hard-hitting R&B Krucial is otherwise known for crafting. The subject matter speaks out against mediocrity and lacklustre artists not taking their music seriously. Clearly, lacking substance is one of Krucial’s pet peeves. Setting his sights on constantly developing new sounds and talents, Krucial brings along his protégé, ILLz, who is also his partner-in-rhyme in their group, the Kitchen Boyz. With cuts such as “They Don’t Understand,” “Deeper than Surface,” “Up in Da Kitchen,” and the title track, Krucial aspires to create his own brand of quality hip hop.

“Real songwriters are the missing link in music now,” Krucial says. “There are too many doing music for the hustle and not out of the love for creating. Artists and music lose focus when the creativity is not from the heart.”

For the incredibly cool Grammy Award-winning maestro responsible for moving over 30 million albums with his major collaborator and business partner, Alicia Keys, Krucial believes embracing different styles of music helps him to appreciate his work fully. A born leader and visionary, the extremely humble eldest of five brothers and sisters says he always kept an open ear and gained musical appreciation from everywhere. Not one to ever abandon where any of his passions come from, Krucial believes his love for music also comes from a lack of access and creative resources from his community. Local kids in New York City didn’t really own instruments nor have access to affluent music programs. Confident in his ideas and skills, Krucial set his sights on achieving his goals.

Make no mistake; Krucial stays on his grind.

Speaking with Krucial is like open up volumes of music encyclopaedias. Growing up, it is classic soul, R&B, and funk records from his parents’ collection. Among his peers and in the streets are the hip hop ciphers and sounds. Combine the two environments and Krucial knows that the power of creating his own music could take him far. Krucial couldn’t escape music as his destiny and what he says is his therapy.

A East Village hip hop veteran on the mix-tape and Nuyorican Poets Café circuits, Krucial began to work with Keys full time around 1996 after she encourages him to help her create a sound unlike what established producers and label executives envisions for her. The two creative souls, friends in passing since 1994, would normally spot each other in small ciphers and open mic sessions with various artists. It’s a dream collaboration in the traditions of Ashford and Simpson; Gamble and Huff; Rodgers and Hammerstein; Elton John and Bernie Taupin and L.A. Reid and Babyface among countless others.

For a multi-talented man who knows of his ability to craft lushfully hard sounds, Krucial could not begin to imagine that his hip hop edge would be appreciated by such a musical prodigy. “I got into music with no expectations,” he says. “There should never be any limit to what people can do. Real songwriters; artists and musicians do not limit their potential to make good, honest music. This industry is a war, so everyone is not going to believe in you at first. The important thing is to believe in yourself; your art, and to stay focused. If people are not willing to challenge themselves or allow themselves to be challenged, then music is not meant for them.”

Through Keys’ major label discrepancies, Krucial and Keys become inseparable. The two artists stay in touch and began to feed off of each other. Always in a comfortable spirit whenever he speaks of Keys’ talent, Krucial says their knowledge of R&B and love for hip hop would drive their work ethic and creative output beyond normal capacity. As her closest friend and confidant, Krucial actively encourages Keys to take advantage of her own sound; career and talents. Keys’ classical training along with his extreme passion to create hip hop-based rhythm tracks becomes their signature sound. With no experience in writing and producing songs yet working on an entire album, Krucial’s ability to take matters into his own hands is exactly what Keys needs to become a megastar.

The ideas seem far fetched, but their collaborative efforts work. A composed Krucial says Keys helps him to come out of his musical tunnel vision. “I was into hip hop,” he says. “I didn’t want to accept what I had learned growing up in the house. Having it around so much made it easier to try. Because of AK, I learned how to pay more attention to the music while staying focused and keeping my love for music.” Their work is at a balance with a prolific output; with often quick turnarounds for writing and producing new material. Krucial focuses on bass; drums and rhythms. Keys focuses on chords; lyrics and melodies to round out their classic partnership. Krucial hopes that the different sounds can keep fans; listeners and critics guessing and interested in their catalog. It’s clearly a match made in musical heaven that over 20 million fans seem to love.

“Music should go to the soul and make people happy,” he states with passion. “Music is therapy that is more than just sampling a hook or a melody. Artists have to be strong-minded about what they love most and be willing to do it themselves. All creativity comes from independent artists. If artists and writers pour their hearts into their craft, it will go straight to the people.”

For Krucial, staying focused also means being wise beyond creativity. He continuously thrives on trying new things musically and purposely creating a sound unlike other artists. He is a new age businessman in control of a musical empire. Along with Keys, he is the CEO and founder of Krucial Keys Enterprises, an independent music; management and multimedia enterprise purposed at supporting genuine and original artists. The two musical masterminds also manage a state-of-art recording studio, The Oven, in Long Island. Krucial is one of the hardest working producers in the game. He says he is blessed to blaze his own trail as the major voice behind a musical dynasty with loyal support from fans and the industry to feel his passion.

“Krucial Keys represents a movement dedicated to creativity and innovation,” he says with excitement. “Our music is valued as truth that connects people. We are dedicated to building and expanding our musical abilities without losing sight. We respect what we do, but we pay attention to the vets that came before us. We do not want to assimilate ourselves from the music that we like and the music that we want to create.”

For one of urban and pop music’s latest perfectionist, respect comes in various collaborative avenues. Krucial has contributed to soundtracks for Dr. Dolittle; Drumline; Shaft and Ali. He is tapped for lending his Midas songwriting and production talents with various artists: Rakim; Mario; Angie Stone; Christina Aguilera; Keyshia Cole; Nas; Toni Braxton; K’naan; Drake; Robert Randolph and the Family Band; Anthony Hamilton; Solange Knowles and Brandy. Krucial also plans to head overseas in hopes to collaborate with various international artists destined to enter into the American market. Curious fans can log on to; or follow the man on Guess one could say that these are krucial times for music.

“When it comes to making music, you may not always understand it,” Krucial believes. “I’m more concerned with if people feel it or not. The goal is to always make quality, so I respect the game and pay attention to what drew me into it in the first place. As I mature as an artist, I acquire more wisdom and knowledge to share. I would not be doing my duty to share what I know and what I see.”

Success hasn’t spoiled Krucial at all. He remains humble and appreciative by the response from his fans and the public. Still, Krucial shows no plans of slowing down or abandoning his partnership with Keys. Their success and mutual focus on the music keeps them together and motivates him to pursue outside projects. “People think that success makes you this monster,” he says. “You can be successful and not be grimy. It’s my duty to connect with other artists and creative minds. I’m just the general out front that also directs the band.”
Words Christopher Daniel

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