Seattle native Mekhi Rogers—known by many as up-and-coming rapper Highway—is a product of the modern rap era; drawing influence from trailblazers of the genre he occupies. Individualism is a value that Highway holds himself tightly to, constantly striving to show and stay true to who he is. He has created a notable buzz for himself in the Pacific Northwest scene as a rapper, but has been always been tied to good music—boasting production credits for artists like Chief Keef and Duwap Kaine.
Highway has garnered an expansive list of connections in the game throughout his time, being formerly linked with other famous Seattle acts like Lil Mosey and Isaacjuccuzzi as a part of the collective Osixx. Nowadays, he's seen chatting with the likes of JetsonMade and members of Chief Keef's GloGang, as well as Sosa himself.
We linked via Zoom to chat about the culture of Seattle, the time he met Kevin Durant, and his incredible music videos. Check out the conversation below and make sure to check out Highway, as his upcoming project CountFast is going to be making major waves.
Howie: Before Highway—who was Mekhi Rogers, and how did you get into making music?
Highway: I grew up making music since I was like 7 or 8. I grew up around music a lot, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time around people who made it, though. I just listened to all types of music in my mom's truck.
Who were the artists of your childhood that stuck around to help shape your influence to create?
Shit... Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, Future... I would say Chief Keef, but I was already 14 or 15 when he came out. All 90s R&B; Soulchild, that’s really what was playing in my mom's car. There were so many; all Bay Area stuff, really—E-40 and Too $hort, as well. All the West Coast artists, really; it could go on forever.
What is the significance of the number 9 and 2009 to your persona?
2009 was just a real significant year for me. I had to take on responsibility as my own; I really felt like an adult, even though I was 11 and in middle school. That’s when I started seeing lots of shit and being introduced to shit people usually see at an older age. I started to get around it at that time, and that’s when it was my responsibility to make sure whatever I want happens. I don’t know if you remember, but it was a recession. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but it affected me and my family the most. I found myself; I started to realize who I was as an individual. That’s when I was having the most fun and when the best music was coming out, too.
Is there a meaning behind the “countfast” phrase you use?
Countfast is just something I said in a song, and it stuck with me. So, I just took it on as my name—Countfast9. I really do count fast. Quick, I can show you.
Now that you’re back in Seattle, what’s the scene like out there for hip-hop?
It’s kind of cookie-cutter to me; a lot of people be trying to fit a certain image. Like I said—in 2009, I really found out I was an individual and that’s how I’ve tried to play the music scene. I just try to be myself. I don’t feel a lot of the shit going on, but there’s a lot of good shit going on as well with the music scene. Lots of great artists, producers, engineers out here, but I just remain an individual and stand on my own shit while I’m out here. There’s just a lot of shit I can’t really connect with going on.
What’s your favorite thing about Seattle?