Written Before Listen
Baby Keem is a rapper from California mainly known to be the cousin of one of the best rappers if not the best rapper of all time, Kendrick Lamar. Luckily, his music has been very enjoyable in his own right. I’ve listened to some songs from “DIE FOR MY BITCH” and songs like “STATS” and “ORANGE SODA” were very enjoyable. Now he has entered with his debut album “The Melodic Blue”. With that being said, let’s see what Keem has in store for us.
Let’s start with talking about the production because it’s kind of the main reason why I feel the way I feel about this album. A good amount of the beats are hard-hitting and energetic. For example, the beats for “family ties” and “trademark USA” have switch after switch and continue the heat throughout the whole song. With those songs, we also have some forgettable beats with tracks like “gorgeous” and “first order of business” where both beats are kind of forgettable. Some beats go outside of Keem’s comfort zone like “issues” and “16” but out of those beats, some of them work and some of them miss. Overall, what I’m trying to say here is that there are some great beats here, but a lot of them kind of sound unfinished or awkward.
There are not many features on this album. The ones that show up are big names though. First off, we have three Kendrick Lamar features. We haven’t even had three Kendrick Lamar features in the past two years and here he is. The first track we hear from him is “range brothers” where he is easily the best part of the track….that is until the beat switches and goes to him repetitively saying “top of the mornin” without even being on the beat. The second track is my favorite on the album and that is “family ties”. I love both Baby Keem and Kendrick’s performance and the 2.5 beats that appear on this track are all fire. Then there is the surprise feature from him on “vent” where he does the refrain for the track. We also get “drug activity” which features Travis Scott and this track is kind of a disappointment. The beat is very monotonous but not as monotonous as the artists on the track. Both Baby Keem and Travis sound like they just don’t want to make this track. Luckily, the track featuring Travis Scott’s protege is much better. The song “Cocoa” has a great Don Toliver feature and a chaotic beat that makes one of the more enjoyable songs on the album. As you can see, the features are a little hit or miss on this album, and with three of them being from one of the best rappers of all time, that’s kind of disappointing.
I’ve seen a lot of comparisons on Baby Keem. They are bound to compare him to Kendrick, I’ve seen Travis Scott comparisons, and I’ve seen a small amount of Kanye comparisons. Personally, the only one that kind of makes sense is Travis Scott. I don’t think he’s as thought-provoking or versatile as Kendrick and not as ambitious and forward-thinking as Kanye. A lot of the people I saw were people like Vince Staples and Amine. People who make bangers with lyricism and West Coast bravado. With that being said, he sticks into that realm of hip hop like gum on a shoe. I do like those artists, but I think those artists are in a category of people that will forever be known to be “underrated”. People like Denzel Curry, Isaiah Rashad, and many more can be in this category. I want to see him escape this category as much as he can.
Now, let’s talk about Baby Keem’s actual style. Despite being a tad derivative, I think his style is pretty singular. I think he has a signature flow and beat selection at this point which is impressive. Honestly, the best part of this album is Baby Keem himself. My thoughts on his skill and performance didn’t decline or get ruined with this album. I think tracks like “family ties” and “trademark usa” are great examples of his unparalleled energy. He can also experiment with his vocal inflections too. On tracks like “range brothers” and “South Africa”, Baby Keem’s delivery can come off a little bit annoying, but I like to hear that he is experimenting. Overall, I think his performance and energy are the leading focus of his style and I like hearing him on a track most of the time due to it.
I’ll just admit it right now, I wasn’t big on this album. Despite the performances being strong, I think the songs themselves were too unfinished and awkward. Luckily that wasn’t the case for all of the tracks. I liked the opening track and the beat switches on it too. I did like how he went a little more conscious on “scapegoats” too. You know already that I love “family ties”, I like the more artsy side of Keem with “scars” and I like the energy of “vent”. I will say it right now. Baby Keem shows a lot of potential but his derivative and demo-like approach to this album kind of ruins this album
Yeah, it’s a shame but I wasn’t a big fan of this album. I liked some of the songs from it but as an album, it’s unfinished. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I just wasn’t a fan of the sound because with the tracks I heard from “DIE FOR MY BITCH”, the tracks sounded more finished and that was from a mixtape. Yeah, I wish I liked it more than I do, but I don’t.