BEVERLY HILLS — Kerry "Krucial" Brothers is known as Alicia Keys' producer, business partner and — rumor has it — boyfriend, but it was as a rapper that he made his name.
And with a solo EP due this spring, the male half of Krucial Keys Entertainment (see "Alicia Keys Nearly Spills Secrets To Jane") wants to bring their production company/ record label full circle.
"A lot of people know that we're gonna be doin' the R&B thing, since it's Alicia Keys, but [the EP] is just venturing out and showing everybody that we got a hip-hop thing coming out too," Brothers said. "Those are my roots. I actually fell into doin' R&B, so I'm really excited about being able to express this side."
Krucial's eight-song EP, Take Da Hood Back, will also showcase one of the company's rising stars, 18-year-old Brooklyn MC Illz.
"I feel he's really going to be the future," Brothers said. "And I want to show that New York's still got some fresh sounds coming out."
The EP is currently streaming on KrucialKeys.com, including the first single, the record's title track. "I'm getting a lot of good feedback and I'm in the process of shooting a video," Brothers said.
After Krucial's EP is released, the company will focus on some of its other acts, including L. Green, Erika Rose, Kumasi and Kaib. (Apparently, K is a popular letter at Krucial Keys Entertainment.)
Of course, Brothers and Keys are also working on the latter's next album.
"We're always doin' songs here and there, but later this year we're definitely gonna start full-force on the album," Brothers said. "Basically, we're not gonna fix whatever's not broken. But we're definitely gonna try some extra stuff, since we got a chance to travel around the world and absorb other sounds that we want to experiment with. We're gonna give what people expect from us, but give 'em more."
Brothers credits his chemistry with Keys to their similar taste in music.
"It just so happens that our parents played the same type of music," he said. "I'm more hip-hop-oriented, and she's more R&B, and you mesh the two. We don't try to figure it out whatever that balance is between us. We just do it."