All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)
Welcome to Cooking at Home With…, an ongoing series where we go behind-the-scenes with some of our favorite personalities to see how they get busy in their own kitchens. This week, we head Harlem to chop it up with 88-Keys, the rapper and beatsmith behind tracks by Kanye West, Mos Def, Kid Cudi, and many other hip-hop luminaries—as his Twitter bio reminds us, “No Church In The Wild is NOT my only dope beat ladies & gents; it’s 1 of MANY.” You can follow 88 Keys on Twitter @eightyocho, and click through the gallery above for a peek inside his apartment.
Name: Charles M. Njapa (p/k/a 88-Keys)
Hometown: West Hempstead, NY (Long Island… the ‘burbs), by way of Eastchester, NY (Bronx… the ‘hood)
Current home: Harlem (still the ‘hood, but a nicer ‘hood)
How do you define your profession?
Waking up everyday for the past 20 years and have fun doing my hobby: creating beats and songs…. [I’m] just getting paid to do it now.
How often do you cook at home?
Once In a blue moon, but I’m trying to work my way up to twice a week, which seems like it’ll never happen. I have a gorgeous wife who can throw down in the kitchen.
Tell us about the dish you chose to make.
[It’s called] Chicken Scampi II. It’s basically chicken which tastes like shrimp, served with brown rice and broccoli. I throw in the broccoli to make the dish “healthy” for my family. Broccoli is actually one of the few vegetables I like so… *Kanye shrug*
What is on your cooking playlist?
[It’s] basically anything from the late ’60s, all he way throughout the ’70s, and into the mid-’80s from my vast and ever-growing record collection; old vinyl. Either that or I’m blasting one of my productions—usually unfinished as I listen to it repeatedly to add ideas on how to finish the beat. It’s like adding the seasoning and other ingredients to my dish.
Imagine your dream dinner party. Who are the guests?
My wife Krista so she could be proud of my cooking, my daughters Chloë (6) and Luca (5) to provide the humor, my 5 best friends: Daniel C. Glogower (my manager [MARCH Management]) so he could be impressed, Nat Sabio (because I haven’t seen him in YEARS), DJ Killatouch (because he’s never had my cooking… D-Block WHAT UP!), Dez Horsham-Brathwaite (because he can actually cook his ARSE off…*UK accent*), and Kanye “Yeezy Yeezus Yowzah” West along with Kim so they could see how my daughters behave at the dinner table and then they’d know what to expect once North is toddler. Also so ‘Ye could invite Jay-Z and Beyoncé because I don’t have their direct contact info. The last few times I’ve had dinner with Jay and ‘Ye they almost made milk shoot out of my nose…and I wasn’t even drinking milk. Those dudes are natural comedians, I swear. Lastly, I’d invite my homegirl Jessica Rivera because I owe her dinner for signing me to a HUGE DEAL over at Universal Music Publishing Group, Riggs Morales (Atlantic VP of A&R) because I promised him a dinner too.
Do you have a go-to drink with your meal?
Not at all as I don’t drink alcohol and it’s kind of rare for me to drink soda. I usually just grab a pitcher of water for my family—serve cold.
Do you have a favorite cookbook?
No, but I have a favorite iPhone app: All Recipes Pro (the paid version of the app, not the free one… BALLIN’!)
You have a dinner party. Guests are lingering. How do you get them out?
Do a huge fake stretch and yawn, look at my watchless wrist and say, “Geez, would’ja look at the time?!” all whilst doing my best doorman impersonation.
How to Make “Chicken Scampi”
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 teaspoon dried parsley
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. In a skillet heat the butter or margarine and oil over medium high until the butter/margarine melts. Add the parsley, basil, oregano, garlic, and salt, then mix together in the skillet. Stir in lemon juice.
2. Add the chicken and saute for about three minutes or until white. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. More butter/margarine can be added if needed.