In a world where social media can turn rappers into interminable, self-contained press runs, it isn't all that unusual for artists to take their time before dropping off an official studio debut project. Keith Ape released his first solo effort, the Born Again EP, earlier this month, after arriving on the hip-hop scene with the 2015 single, "It G Ma." He feels the three years were well spent.

"I didn’t feel like I was ready," Ape told XXL of the gap via email. "Everything happened so fast and changed so fast. I guess I was kinda confused. And I was too young. But I think I'm ready now, which is also why I think it's the time."

The "everything" that Ape refers to is the buzz and notoriety that came from the aforementioned hit, which made him an instant viral sensation while prompting accusations of cultural appropriation. Dubbed the Korean OG Maco, Ape made waves with the type of aggressive, trap-influenced sounds that dominate streaming services today.

Riding out the hype of "It G Ma," Ape relocated from South Korea to Los Angeles before collaborating with the likes of Thouxanbanfauni, Uno the Activist, Famous Dex, Ski Mask The Slump God and Rich Brian. His Rich Brian collab was for a track called "Gospel." Though XXXTentacion is also featured on the track, Ape never got the chance to meet him before the rapper was tragically gunned down this past June.

"X was actually in jail when I worked on that song," Ape explains. "I was able to communicate with him through a mutual homie."

After unloading several loosies toward the tail end of 2017, Ape eventually prepped himself for a big 2018. Since late September, he's toured alongside the likes of Rich Brian and the rest of 88Rising, a crew he's been running with for the last few years.

Now he's unloaded his debut solo project. Featuring guest appearances from Wifisfuneral, Yung Bans and Chief Keef, along with production from F1thy, Brandon Finessin, Oogiemane and Forza from Working on Dying, Born Again is a collection of tunes that see Ape attack tracks with his customary energy as he re-engages the U.S. with the trap sounds that made him a star.

Though Keith Ape finds himself entering a new part of his career, he thinks the Born Again is taking him back to the beginning. "It’s a restart of myself," Ape offers. "Me back to being me again."

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