Welcome to the rap game, Baby Keem

Baby Keem seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Earning his first songwriting credit on Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack for the movie “Black Panther,” Keem quickly saw himself at the center of many top studios. The 17-year-old will later collaborate with top producer Cardo on his mixtape Die for my bitch.

While Keem is known for his unique nasal vocal style and catchy trap rhythms, why the scruffy Vegas teen was allowed into studios across the country has remained a mystery.

It was until the first single from his debut studio album, The melodic blue, “Family ties” was dropped earlier this year.

A sporty cover similar to Lamar’s second album good child MAAd city, “Family Ties” features an old family photo of Lamar and Keem. Perhaps Keem’s status as Lamar’s cousin gave him the benefit of a slight nepotism, but the raw talent Keem displays on the single demonstrates that he’s more than Kendrick’s “little coz”.

In a year already saturated with great hip-hop releases, “family ties” are refreshing. The sophisticated rhythm – twisting and turning through multiple rhymes linked to the language – presents Keem rapping at his best. The single underscores Keem’s ambition, which is amplified by Lamar’s legendary backing vocals. Additionally, this track demonstrates the couple’s strong chemistry as the two bounce back while experimenting with vocal styles and puns.

In total, three titles on The melodic blue with the voices of Lamar. “Range brothers” draws heavily on Kendrick’s bars and is similar to “family ties” in its exploration of lyrical and musical themes. One of Kendrick’s lines on this track repeatedly exaggerates the phrase ‘top of the mornin’ ‘and quickly became a viral TikTok dance – a testament to the genuine humor Kendrick brings to the record.

However, Keem doesn’t simply depend on Kendrick as a crutch to build his record. Tracks such as “booman” and the stellar opening track from the album “trademark usa” feature a unique and lavish production paired with a distinctive vocal performance from Keem. It looks like the artist has truly found a voice for himself on this record and carved out an interesting niche for himself among the rap community.

When Baby Keem is in his own way The melodic blue excels; However, when Keem fails to engage in his sound, the album succumbs to mediocrity. Although this single was boosted prior to the album’s release, “durag activity” is perhaps the weakest song in the album’s discography. The overall flow of the track is uninspired and Travis Scott’s functionality feels telephoned. Other tracks, “pink panties” and “south africa”, are not necessarily bad trap tunes but lack originality and pale in comparison when played alongside the more ambitious beats of the album.

While Keem Certitude presents a unique vocal production and delivery style on The melodic blue, the rapper’s lyricism is sorely lacking. He clearly has more to say than most 20-year-olds, which makes his choice to rap money-weary themes and women who sound like dishonest. It’s frustrating to hear Keem hint at deeper meanings or general themes throughout the record, only to make those important flirts end up being superficial mentions.

Despite its flaws, The melodic blue is a strong entry for Baby Keem. At its best, it presents a strong newcomer who ambitiously pushes the trends of modern hip-hop forward.

Even though Keem has just arrived on the scene, it’s clear he’s here to stay and make waves in the industry. He may have had his chance on a silver platter, but he has the thirst for creativity of an artist who knows he has mastered his craft. Keem’s quickly found popularity and new sound almost ensures that he will be the vanguard of the next generation of hip-hop.

Daily Arts writer Kai Bartol can be contacted at kbartol@umich.edu.

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