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Soldier hits top spot on the Billboard charts

On any given weekday, you can find Army Sgt. Keyon Dunston at Fort Drum as a motor transport operator. But when he goes home and peels off his uniform, his life is much different from the average active-duty soldier. Dunston is a verified artist on Spotify with a Billboard platinum single and over 100,000 monthly listeners who know him as Iamkeynotes or just Key Notes.

Since he was a young kid, Notes had a thing for rhythm and words. He started dancing, and then he began rapping. After Chris Brown released his song “Take You Down,” Notes says he was inspired to try his hand at singing too.

“If he [Chris Brown] can do this off of singing, then what can I do if I try and sing,” he said.

So, he did. A desire to be the best pushed him to keep working at it, and now he is a triple threat — dancer, rapper, and singer — and his music videos house all of those talents.

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After grinding in the industry, making mistakes and learning along the way, Notes has grown a fan base while earning a reputation with some of the big names he looks up to. Although he’s worked with artists like T-Pain, Ty Dolla $ign, and Dababy, his humble mindset is to “just keep working,” he says. “I feel like I’m just like everybody else. I’ve just been putting in a certain amount of work.”

Notes’ military service has also impacted his approach to off-duty work.

“I’m just one of those people that anything I touch I want to be the best that I can be” — an Army slogan that he takes seriously. “I put 110% in everything that I do. Just seeing where I’ve gotten with the Army as well. I’m more blown away about that sometimes than the music.”

To date, what he considers his most significant achievement is being in a position to help others.

“I came up on a lot of bad leadership. So I told myself, I’ll always be the leader I always wanted,” he said.

Notes mentors other soldiers who are trying to get to the next level and progress. And this motivation to give back doesn’t start and stop with his military endeavors. This year, he became the president of Megatron Music Group — a management label for independent artists where he handles artist recruitment, artist development, consultations and budgeting. The different roles, including his own music career and being a husband and father, can sometimes get cumbersome.

“I’m still trying to find balance, and every day, something new happens,” he said.

For now, he’s taking advantage of every opportunity presented. One of the reasons Notes began doing the recording himself was because he says he was missing opportunities.

“It’s difficult to coordinate with producers and engineers and things of that nature.”

Studio time can add up to thousands of dollars, but by creating his own resources, Notes has been able to be at home with his family and also quickly work on a project in the confines of his limited time. This is a delicate balancing act, and he admits wearing so many hats come with a cost.

“My family has to sacrifice a lot right now. I do a lot of interviews and phone conferences and a lot of recording. So, somebody has to take the hit,” he said.

And it was incredibly challenging when he wasn’t seeing any profits from the time invested into making music, a reality that has now changed as his career progresses. He shares the recipe that helped his family through the hard years.

“Make sure your life is straight first. If you’re married, you got kids, make sure that you’ve got a plan. And communicate with your significant other on what your plan is and come to some type of mutual understanding because communication is key when it comes to really anything, but especially something like this,” Notes said.

Earlier this year, Notes’ single “Buss It Down” reached the top of Billboard charts. He hopes his story will teach others that anything is possible, even while serving in the military.

“I like to show people that it’s real. You can obtain whatever it is that you want to do in life,” he said. “Make sure that you’re stable in life first. That’s what’s most important.”


Fresh off his Platinum Success with his Break out Record “Buss It Down” Ft Da Baby and Petey Pablo currently at OVER 2 Million Streams KeyNotes is back with an assist from Champagne Papi as they release “All These People” from his highly anticipated upcoming Album.

Check out his latest track featuring an assist from Drake. You can also find Notes’ music on Spotify and follow his journey on Instagram at

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