Baby Keem is a 20 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Carson, California who actually happens to be Kendrick Lamar’s younger cousin. He’s gone on to drop 4 EPs & 2 mixtapes in the last few years, with his sophomore tape Die for My Bitch being the one that helped boost him to the point where he rightfully earned a spot on the 2020 XXL Freshman Class. But now after signing to K. Dot’s newly formed pgLang with distribution from Columbia Records we’re finally being treated to a full-length debut from the promising West Coast up-&-comer.
“trademark usa” starts off the album by shouting out the dead & a forboading Frank Dukes instrumental, but switches up into something more vibrant & Keem saying he’s the same dude in 48 states. The self-produced “pink panties” is a funky lust tune whereas “scapegoats” takes a more soulful turn telling us he thought there was redemption in the 4 ethers. Kendrick blesses us for the boisterous “range brothers” despite the tedious “top of the morning” refrain with a dope beat switch from the help of 30 Roc towards the last minute & a half leading into “issues” taking a more minimalistic sound opening up about the memories of certain people in his life.
Meanwhile on “gorgeous”, we have Keem telling his bitch that she’s a dime on top of a synth-heavy Cardo instrumental just before the piano-laced “south africa” is essentially about him & his girl both having the money. “lost souls” moodily declares all these hoes as such with an equally catchy outro telling his woman that he’s on her side, but then Don Toliver tags along for the playful club banger “cocoa”.
I love how “family ties” begins with bringing in these horns for Keem’s verse & later taking a grimier turn for Kendrick to smoke your top 5 while “scars” climatically asks God why life is so hard. “durag activity” obviously takes a psychedelic route as Travis Scott comes into the picture flexing their wealth whereas “booman” has a jazzier vibe talking about being a barbarian.
The song “first order of business” has a bit of a more ambient sound talking about loyalty & gratitude while the penultimate track “vent” brings Kendrick back one last time to viciously ask if you’ve ever been punched dead in the face. “16” then ends the album by asking his girl won’t she think about them & the beat from DJ Dahi is danceable as fuck.
I’ve always suggested to check out Die for My Bitch for those who’ve never heard of Keem, but now I have to recommend The Melodic Blue because he really outdid himself on here. His lyrical skills have increased as did his production & his versatility from the energetic hip hop joints to the infectious R&B cuts is really admirable.