In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, the potential for social media users to rocket themselves into online fame seems to grow stronger every passing day. Though growing an online presence and following is anything but easy, the opportunities it can unlock are becoming exponentially more enticing. Collaborating with well-known celebrities on content and gaining monetized sponsorships are just one piece of the pie. As one social media influencer and hip-hop personality tells us, the real rewards from achieving digital fame occur behind the screen.
Keyshawn Butler (who goes by “Key”) has become well-known between his published Instagram content and thriving YouTube channel, boasting some 480k and 250k followers on each platform respectively. His path to fame becomes even more astounding in recognizing its beginnings in Key’s hobby as a freestyle hip-hop dancer with aspirations of one day breaking into the hip-hop music scene – aspirations which have recently started to become a reality for the young internet star.
“I was always inspired by the idea of being up on a stage with different artists and dancing to get their crowd amped up,” says Key. “That thought grew into the dream of creating my own unique sound so that one day I could end up doing the same thing with my own team, and now I’m seeing that coming to life. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Like many teens and twenty-somethings growing up in today’s digital age, where information and content can be shared across the world with the ease of a simple click or swipe, Key’s interest in music production and dance choreography was fueled by seeing like-minded people showcasing their talent and passion in movies, music videos, YouTube videos, and other content.
“The first couple of generations of YouTube dancers are what really inspired me to start improving my own style and making my own dance videos,” Key says. After uploading his first video to YouTube in 2011, Key says his following steadily grew over later years through consistently producing content alongside his friends. Two of those friends, sibling duo Ayo and Teo, saw their own rise to fame after a video of the two dancing at their high school talent show went viral, generating over a million views, and again in 2017 when their hit single “Rolex” landed the #20 spot on the Billboard 100. The song’s music video also features famous hip-hop and R&B artist Usher, and has over 900 million views as of May, 2021.
Seeing the potential that he and his friends’ talent had to create viral content from their passion of dancing, Key began doubling-down on his aspirations to produce music. Using the same creativity that drove his love for freestyle dancing, Key began creating his own instrumental music tracks and uploading them to YouTube under the channel HiiiKey Beats with the goal of being recognized for his production talent by more musical artists.
“There are so many artists I would love to collaborate with on music in the future,” Key mentions, mentioning that Travis Scott, Future, and Drake are among his top 3 dream gigs. “Being versatile as a dancer helped get me recognized and put on the map, but now I really want to become recognized as a versatile music producer.”
When it comes to the style of music he wants to produce, Key says he isn’t going to limit himself or his creativity to certain specific genres. That being said, the self-made internet star and music producer does have an interest in exploring what some may consider more “non-traditional” genres.
“I plan to make a lot of instrumental music and beats,” Key adds, “but I’d love to work on making some Afro-Pop music first.”