Published Jan 29, 2012"The response has been crazy," says one Andrew "Burd" Liburd on the community reaction to, and support of, Keyz of Life, a tribute to the late Anthony "Durty Keyz" James, Burd's long-time friend and stalwart production partner. By now, the story of Keyz (a budding hip-hop producer who tragically passed away recently at the age of 23 after succumbing to the rare bacteria infection streptococcus) is a sad and well-told tale in the Canadian music scene. Founded in 2004, Toronto, ON-based Burd & Keyz were a production team on the cusp of huge things, quickly growing to become a respected name in the underground hip-hop community. Keyz of Life, thus, is simultaneously a reminder of what could have been and what's to come; the 25-year-old Burd worked tirelessly putting the project together in his basement studio, calling in some top-tier hitters such as Kardinal Offishall, Divine Brown and Rich Kidd. The mid-tempo title track, featuring Sonreal, Nickelus F and Blake Carrington, appropriately sets the tone: "We don't mourn, we celebrate." R&B joint "LoveSpeak," featuring Shi Wisdom and KJ, showcases mad versatility and holds its own with a heavy banger like "R.N.T. (Real Ni**a Tears)," featuring Rich Kidd and DJ Grouch. "Shine" and the two respective "Burdstrumentals" keep things reverent while also showcasing Burd's polished sound. The last track, "The Other Side" (featuring Divine Brown and Kardinal Offishall), is a smooth and introspective musical coda to the whole affair. Created as an homage to his friend, Burd has crafted a 14-track mixtape that builds upon Keyz's unfinished tracks, creating a sonic legacy in the process.
How emotional was it to actually complete this project?
Completing this project was, like, one of the most important things I've done in my life. Just the effort, time and money that went into it; I felt like I had a lot on my shoulders, you know?
How has Keyz's passing affected your outlook on music and life in general?
It kind of made me realize that you can't put things off. You have to really attempt to achieve everyday and attack it. It gave me more appreciation for life; it made me hungrier, in terms of making it, because it feels like I have his presence within me. My whole focus is a lot more intense.
Where do you go from here? How do you define success?
I define success as making quality music and having a bank account to match. (Independent)