Wednesday, November 4, 2009

HEIGHT: The Hairy Life

Height with Friends. l-r: Jones, PT Burnem, Heightman, Mickey Free, King Rhythm, Emily Slaughter

Height, AKA Dan Keach, is Baltimore's gentle forest creature of rap music. While offstage he is placid in demeanor, retiring and often almost camouflaged (an amazing feat considering his formidable stature), Height's performances highlight his intense and imposing presence. Sometimes downright spooky. Like the peers and co-conspirators of his Friends, Height's wordplay is magnetic and his ear for tracks is sharpened and tuneful. If it can be said that there exists a Baltimore County Native Hip-Hop style, Heightman then would rest amongst its innovators.

What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?

I rap in Height With Friends. We just finished up our new record, and we're trying to find a good home for it. We just released a free remix album at, and we're dropping the first in a series of free EP's on November 17th. I'm also getting ready to play a lot of shows.

How long have you done these things?
I've rapped since middle school, but the first Height record came out in 2000.

Why do you do them? How does it make you feel?
I've never been able to figure out why I feel the need to do all this stuff... My biggest hang-up is that I feel this obligation to be a helpful member of society, and I doubt that making up songs about my feelings is the best way to contribute. However, deep down, I know this is the one thing on earth that makes me feel okay, and that you have to do the things that you have to do. To sum things up, I guess I couldn't really live with myself if I didn't try to do this thing that's obviously important to me.

I can't claim that making music makes me feel one particular way. It's really the only thing I do besides work, so it's just my life, which has a whole spectrum of experiences.

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? What happened?
My moment was when I started rolling heavy with my pal Mickey Freeland.We had hung out a little in second grade, but we met again in art class in sixth grade, and I thought he was the funniest person on earth. He would talk about music and movies with a crazy excitement that was totally foreign to me, and he was kind of like an adult in some ways. Him and his brother Chris introduced me to the whole world of artistic/creative things, and I helped show these things to other cool dudes, like Shields and Jones.

The kids I had been around before didn't seem to really have any thoughts about music or the things going on around them, except like "Metallica rules," or "fuck it." I was never able to play the role of a degenerate kid, but I wouldn't have had the vision to know I wanted to do music at a young age if I didn't know Mic.

How has your life changed or not changed to accommodate that moment's effect on you?
It wasn't like that. It's been an uphill battle.

l - r: Mickey Freeland, Height, Emily Slaughter

What do you mean by "uphill battle"?
I feel like I've been running in place or something. I'd like to try to make this into some kind of career, but the pieces don't ever seem to come together. I put out a lot of records, but they seem to get lost in the shuffle. I've toured a ton, but I haven't built up much of a fan-base. I don't want to bitch and moan, because I'm so grateful towards the people that do care about what I'm doing. I consider myself so lucky for knowing the people that I've met through music, and for the experiences I've had, but an uphill battle is what it's been.

I will say that things are coming together in some ways. The new Height With Friends live set is fire. I can feel that our set is gaining the interest of people who may have dismissed us in the past. It's something that's been slowly coming together over years of playing to all kinds of audiences all over the country. It was shaped and pushed forward by many people who have toured as a part of my set over the years. Our forthcoming full-length is another encouraging thing. It's our best record, and I can't help but think it will help us get somewhere new.

How has your work affected your life in return?
My work has made my life pretty hairy. I feel like I neglect every other aspect of my life, because I'm so focused on doing all I can with music, while I'm able to do it. It doesn't really matter though, because this work leads to my life being filled with the kind of things I wish to experience.

What does David Lee Roth mean to you?
I never really felt Van Halen, but I have more respect for him than I do for people who are just screwing around in life. He changed the game, plus he killed it by being an EMT in the Bronx.

HEIGHT Discography
I Have A Gun-2003
Utility Fog-2006
Winterize The Game-2007
Utility Fog 2- 2007
Utility Fog 3-2008
Castle Raps-2008
Baltimore Highlands-2009
Utility Fog 4-2009
Baltimore Highlands Remix Album-2009

photos courtesy Height

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