After a number of affected person years displaying promise, it seems like a chief second for Baby Keem. Not solely did the rising star not too long ago flip heads with a standout characteristic on Kanye West’s ‘DONDA’, however new collaborations along with his rumoured cousin – none aside from one Kendrick Lamar – comes exactly at a time when the furore for a brand new King Kenny album reaches a fever-pitch.
On ‘Praise God’ from ‘DONDA’, Keem confirmed he is aware of precisely the right way to take his second. The California-born, Las Vegas-raised 20 year-old’s verse veered between ad-lib lure, cocky mile-a-minute bars, a rogue Tame Impala reference and, at one level, the autotuned experimental sound of ‘squeak-rap’ pioneer 645AR. This sort of free-wheeling ethos is one which flows all through Keem’s debut studio full-length ‘The Melodic Blue’ as a complete.
‘The Melodic Blue’ follows a number of years of Keem’s abilities effervescent ever so slightly below the floor. He’s produced songs for ScHoolboy Q, the Black Panther soundtrack and Beyoncé and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Polo G, Lil Tjay and 24kGoldn on the 2020 XXL Freshman record, in addition to that includes in the NME 100. He’s achieved a breakout viral hit within the type of ‘Orange Soda’, an infectious spotlight from his ‘Die for My Bitch’ mixtape that turned a sleeper smash months after its launch. And now, he can rely LeBron James as a fan: that well-trusted modern marker of rap cred.
On ‘The Melodic Blue’, Keem does a lot to indicate what all of the hype has been about, showcasing his wide-ranging abilities over the 16-track launch. Some may even see it as an absence of cohesion, however he file always sees Keem morph between modes, moods and kinds; he’s nearly not possible to foretell or second-guess.
Opener ‘trademark usa’ offers us a taster of what to anticipate. Kicking off with an reflective spoken-word intro (“Time pass and we move on, nobody says shit / How I’m supposed to act when my morals ain’t respected?”), the monitor then launches into rowdy lure terrain earlier than shifting issues with one other beat change and intoxicating Rosalía hook.
One minute on ‘The Melodic Blue’ Keem shall be serving up a breezy membership bangers like ‘pink panties’, referencing Solely Followers (as on the Don Toliver-aided belter ‘cocoa’), or delivering foolish one-liners like “Cheap shots, let it rock, eye open, Fetty Wap” (from ‘scapegoats’). The following he’ll be in full boast mode, like on ‘vent’, or when he’s proclaiming with swagger on ‘booman’: “I’m sexy and blessed”.
Nevertheless, these moments are continuously juxtaposed by these the place Keem demonstrates restraint. On ‘issues’, a minimal and melodic autotuned quantity, Keem ruminates: “I can’t go ghost, I face demons / Don’t let it defeat you, all in my hands”. Elsewhere he evokes ‘808s & Heartbreak’-era Kanye on low-key spotlight ‘gorgeous’, whereas ‘scars’ options what may or may not be a sample of ‘Love Lockdown’.
All however one of many album’s tracks characteristic manufacturing credit for Keem, whereas two tracks are solely produced by the artist himself. The album delivers a number of exhilarating moments sonically, from jarring piano on ‘south africa’ and the sampling of a dial-up tone on ‘cocoa’ to grand orchestral strings on ‘range brothers’ and hovering synths on cinematic nearer ‘16’. We’re even handled to a warped pattern of serpentwithfeet’s ‘Redemption’ on ‘scapegoats’, which evokes ‘CMYK’-era James Blake (who, coincidentally, seems uncredited on ’16’).
As you would possibly anticipate, Kendrick’s presence is acutely felt on the mission. Lamar performs starring roles on two of the album’s tracks (‘family ties’, ‘range brothers’) and contributes an uncredited refrain and outro to a 3rd (‘vent’). Often, Keem permits himself to be eclipsed by his featured company – leaning maybe an excessive amount of into Travis Scott’s signature sound on ‘durag activity’ and (fairly understandably) being overshadowed by Kendrick on ‘family ties’.
Whereas many have fired accusations of nepotism in direction of Keem throughout his early rise, it’s heartening to see him not use his mentor as an excessive amount of of a crutch on ‘The Melodic Blue’. He doesn’t attempt to escape Kendrick’s affect both, overtly admitting on ‘range brothers’ that “the shoes I fill are huge,” whereas on ‘family ties’ he says he’s grateful that Lamar “opened up doors” for him.
Which of the various kinds Keem decides to make his personal sooner or later, is anybody’s guess, however on this event, ‘The Melodic Blue’ affords a assured and fully-realised mission, one which reveals that he continues to be tough to pigeonhole.
- Launch date: September 10
- Document label: pgLang
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