Baby Keem’s arrival in the rap game came from a mix of beautiful timing and original songwriting that set him apart from his peers. His yelpy and distinct delivery helps him control the energy of his songs at will, and his beat selection has gotten more experimental with time.
Most rappers purposefully switch from a hype and upbeat song to a slower and melodic song. Baby Keem combines both of these elements and weaves them together. For his latest album “The Melodic Blue,” Keem lists a small selection of important features to help bring his project together.
“trademark usa” has Baby Keem reflecting on his morals and privacy. The beat contains a prominent synth melody that evolves around the track, and the drums follow his vocals as well as keep the song together. “I’m the same Baby Keem in 48 states/I play charades with the bank,” he raps. The Rosalía feature adds a touch of rhythm and blues to the track, and he talks about a variety of family problems to start his album.
His different vocal inflections are a clear homage to Kendrick Lamar’s different voices he uses in his raps. In “range brothers,” he uses three different inflections for the first verse alone, and these quick and fluid switch-ups help keep the song interesting despite its 5-minute run time. It ranges on the border of being just enough and too overwhelming, but the Kendrick Lamar feature grounds it back toward reality.
“durag activity” with Travis Scott is another highlight in the project and an exercise in mellowness. The percussion seems to jump in and out of place, which gives Scott and Baby Keem space to truly float on this track. While it’s not as high energy as other songs on the album, it again highlights his versatility and willingness to try new styles.
“issues” and “lost souls” are much more rhythm-and-blues-centric tracks and are a demonstration of Baby Keem’s versatility and musical style. Borrowing from stars like Brent Faiyaz and SZA shows that he takes inspiration from a host of different artists.
While rhythm-and-blues songs of the 90s mainly focused on interesting drum patterns and emotional vocal performances, Baby Keem shows how rappers can blend these genres together to form interesting songwriting.
“family ties” serves as the album’s centerpiece and Kendrick Lamar’s first guest verse in two years. The horns in the first 2 minutes are reminiscent of historically Black colleges and Universities' marching bands and Beyoncé’s Coachella performance.
It's the most ambitious song on the project, and Kendrick once again brings a stellar verse. “I am the omega ... /Don’t you address me unless it’s with four letters,” Baby Keem raps, which alludes to his status as the greatest of all time. His confidence is at an all-time high, and this energy rubs off on him and is prevalent throughout the project.
Baby Keem went from being marketed as Kendrick Lamar’s cousin and protégé to creating his own musical identity and style. He has songs with some of the biggest names in rap with only two albums out, and his whirlwind of publicity greatly benefits his career and influence.
At 20 years old, he's where most rappers wish they were at his age. He’s come a long way from “ORANGE SODA” and has truly come into his own as a rapper and artist. His potential is limitless at this point in time, and fans and detractors alike should enjoy this project.
He's obviously unafraid to jump into new styles of music, and this trait will keep his music interesting and inventive. With additional guidance from Lamar, Baby Keem is bound for stardom, and "The Melodic Blue" is his most concise album yet.