Deep into his teenage years, DJ Kenn made a decision to leave his tiny hometown in Japan and migrate to the Southside of Chicago. People around Chicago started noticing the young beatmaker dressed head-to-toe in Bape, including Chief Keef’s uncle, Dro, who then introduced the Japanese producer to his rapper nephew, Sosa. With the both of them living under Dro’s roof, Chief Keef and DJ Kenn made and released the single “Bang,” which helped launch both artists’ careers.
We spoke to DJ Kenn to get more of the story.
How did you meet Sosa?
It was in 2007, when I came to Chicago. Keef’s uncle, who I call Big Keef, took me to his apartment because I didn’t have a place to stay. Big Keef took care of me because I didn’t really have anyone.
Were you making music there?
So what was it like, you met Keef and he heard your music and you decided to collaborate?
Well, he came to my room in the apartment one day and he said he wanted to make music. Somebody had said to him that I make music and he liked it.
What does the process of making music with Keef entail?
We used to make beats and he builds off that, he writes and then we record.
Do you think Chief Keef’s music can change the world?
It already did! He changed Chicago rap music. He wasn’t making money before 2011, only Twista and Kanye [were], but they weren’t making music with other Chicago people. He opened that door for new artists like Lil’ Durk, Lil’ Herb, and Lil’ Bibby.
Do you wear GLO Gang clothing?
Do you like Keef’s designs?
Yeah, he’s always doing his own thing!
Tell us a bit about the photos with you and Keef, when were they taken?
It was before all the music in the Southside of Chicago, nobody had any money, we were just young kids trying to make it.
In 2011, when Keef’s mixtape came out, we were in the studio everyday. It was all just so crazy, not even with the gangbanging stuff, but just crazy in the studio—crazy about music. We were just in there everyday, but I was like, fuck, I’m not fucking with that gangbang shit, I’m just going to stick to my music. At that time he was starting to come up, and I thought, “Damn, I never thought we’d come up.” But everyone started to make it. It was exciting and Keef almost died like three times. It was a crazy time.