Behind the Keys

A Grambling State University student is on a musical journey that many can only dream about. 

James Key III also know as JamesThe3rddd, is an up-and-coming producer and artist from Los Angeles. Key knew he had a love for music by the age of 2 and began playing drums and piano by the age of 7.  

Key, a junior in majoring in mass communication, has already worked for and performed with multiple household names like Christiana Aguilera, Rihanna and Grambling legend Erykah Badu. However, he continues to remain humble and continues to work to perfect his craft while pursuing his undergraduate degree. 

Growing up in a very well-educated family, school has always been a top priority in his life. Key’s grandmother, who helped raise him, also had a huge influence on his academics as she never missed a day of work as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 40 years. 

Key graduated from Academy of Music & Performing Arts at Hamilton High School where he took an audio production and engineer class. In that class Key found his passion and love for making beats and the behind the scenes work of the music industry. 

While in high school Key admits to getting in trouble during a piano class by his instructor for playing by ear because of his inability to read music. Key luckily overcame this struggle with his grandmother’s help. 

Key said all of the the things he has accomplished so far is from being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. In the summer of 2016, after Key’s first year at Grambling, he returned to Los Angeles with a new mindset on how he worked on music and the direction he would take it. 

“Every time I come home I can see the change, not just physically” Key said.

This new-found path led to him starting his own music collection called “Garage Sessions” where he found himself and his hometown friend writing and producing songs in the studio daily. Once finished with these songs, the duo sent tapes off to artists with hopes of catching a big break. Eventually one of the songs that James wrote was picked up by Christina Aguilera. 

After this happened, Key knew he could accomplish anything and started listening in the top producers of today’s music such as Honorable C-Note, Mad Lib, Pierre Barnes and Flying Lotus in order to study the industry and perfect his craft even more. 

After graduation, Key plans on moving back home to Los Angeles and continue working on music unless an opportunity arises elsewhere.