After one of the greatest single runs in recent history, Baby Keem has released his long-awaited debut album, The Melodic Blue. With singles like “Durag Activity” with Travis Scott and “Family Ties” with the one and only king Kendrick Lamar taking the music world by storm, will Keem be able to keep this hype going with traps next classic album?
While not the major step forward some may have expected, the 16 track LP embarks listeners on one of the most action-packed, adventurous experiences hip hops had to offer this year. Through Keem’s one-of-a-kind raspy voice and unpredictable delivery, listeners stay on the edge of their seats for almost the entire 54 minutes of run time. From the in-your-face intro “trademark usa” to the vibrant finale “16”, the 20-year-olds energetic expressions are such a joy to watch unfold. Even when this excitement turns into the rancid bridge on “range brothers,” the clunky hook on “south africa,” or the off-putting writing at the beginning of “gorgeous,” the creative failures of the Las Vegas native are admirable at the very least.
One of the best aspects of this record is the surreal amount of versatility seen throughout. From spacey melodic anthems like “lost souls” to menacing ones such as “vent,” Keem shows his ability to dive his feet into an array of styles at a fairly high level. In a sub-genre where contemporaries new and old are getting panned for bringing the same uninspired sounds and ideas to the table, Keem’s breakthroughs seem all the better. Out of all the moments that showcase Baby Keem’s high-level artistry, the emotional climax, “scars,” was the definite standout between its powerful singing and multilayered piano beat. The moments “booman” and “durag activity” were some of my favorites on the entire LP due to Keem’s monotone vocals which are so subtle yet commanding. No matter the song or style, the charisma Baby Keem brings to the table is like nothing else in hip hop at the moment.
Another strength of Melodic Blue is its three guest appearances from Keem’s very own cousin, Kendrick Lamar. While we see only a chorus from him on “vent,” Kung Fu Kenny spits a surefire verse of the year candidate on the records standout track, “family ties”. In addition to these performances, his showing on “range brothers” was odd with its refrain of the phrase “top of the morning,” but was still exciting for the sole purpose of witnessing Kenny have fun on a song for the first time in ages. Regarding other guest appearances, we see performances from Jackboy members Travis Scott on the creped “Durag Activity” and Don Tolliver, whose transcending vocals mesh perfectly with Keem’s for the smooth yet up-tempo banger “cocoa”. In an era where artists are stuffing big names on their projects to boost sales, it’s refreshing to see high-profile names appear and actually enhance the album’s vision.
As a whole, The Melodic Blue may come with its fair share of flaws, but it has so much character and spirit it’s hard not to appreciate. He’s definitely not anywhere near his full potential yet, but Baby Keem has all the makings for a superstar, and if he can refine all that’s done here in the future, he’ll be at the top of mainstream hip hop in no time. When it comes to trap albums that have come out this year, this is definitely in the top three, at least.
- So many bangers
- Very versatile in style and tone
- Well placed features
- Baby Keem shows off his star potienal
Why Isn’t It Rated Higher?
- Keem makes an array of creative mistakes along the way
- Occasional off-putting vocals
- His writing has a long way to go
- family ties (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- vent (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- trademark usa
- durag activty (Feat. Travis Scott)
- range brothers (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- cocoa (Feat. Don Tolliver)
- lost souls
- first order of business
- south africa
- pink panties
Written By: Mr. Fantastic