Baby Keem is only getting started
Californian rapper Baby Keem is one of hip hop’s most prominent up and coming figures. After an XXL freshman appearance in 2020, he was poised to conquer the world in 2021. Keem has been under the spotlight over the past couple of weeks, releasing two singles with Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, the latter being Keem’s cousin. He also was a feature on the song “Praise God” on Kanye West’s Donda.
The Melodic Blue marks Keem’s first studio album, and showcases how talented and creative the 20-year-old is as a musician –– him being credited for 14 of the 16 tracks on this record. Throughout the album, Keem isn’t afraid of switching up a song’s mood completely by incorporating beat switches on multiple tracks. While this can be interesting and offers a new look on certain songs, it feels a little bit out of place at times, and in some cases is poorly executed. The opening track “trademark usa” suffers from that ambition following a questionable switch in the middle of the song, which cuts all momentum it had gained in the first part.
Keem’s greatest quality throughout the record is his versatility and willingness to experiment. He isn’t afraid to deviate from his usual full-of-energy baby voice with some more lowkey autotuned ballads like on the songs “scars” and “issues,” which makes for some of the most entertaining songs off the album. The track, “south africa,” has by far the most infectious chorus on the record, which is on par with the closing track, “16,” which sees Keem singing a catchy hook in beautiful fashion over an 80s-influenced drum loop.
The Melodic Blue might be a slight change of pace from his previous mixtapes when it comes to experimenting with new ideas, but it still has its fair share of abrasive bangers, like on the songs “family ties” and “range brothers,” both featuring legendary MC Kendrick Lamar.
Praise is due to Baby Keem for the fact that he is not afraid to experiment with all kinds of new sounds, but in some places it can be a detriment to this record. He is trying so much to be different from his peers, that sometimes some of his ideas fall short of being fully polished. The fact that this release is all over the place and that it could be more focused sadly drags the quality of the record down a little bit.
Overall, The Melodic Blue is ambitious for a debut album and it unquestionably proves that Baby Keem has all the potential in the world to drop a classic album someday.
Trial track: “family ties”