What wasn’t sure about what to expect from Baby Keem’s new album, The Melodic Blue, I just knew I had high hopes for the young artist’s latest offering. The hype for this album grew rather quickly after his show-stealing verse on Kanye West’s Donda and the release of his Kendrick Lamar-assisted single, “Family Ties.” Keem, however, has already begun successfully carving out his own lane for himself in the rap game as his voice and sound are already unique and very distinct, something that makes him a breath of fresh air compared to his contemporaries. What I got when I pressed play on the first track of the album was something that took me by surprise, but I now realize that this album surpassed what I was hoping from the artist.
The Melodic Blue sounds like a piece of work from someone who is on the cusp of striking gold, of perfecting their sound and aesthetic. The high-octave, zany, absurd vocals, and off-the-wall beats/ lyrics are still around in this album, but they’ve been sidelined for more introspection and R&B fusion. That’s not to say Keem hasn’t tried his hand at crooning before, the R&B-leaning “Honest” off his previous album was a standout and interested me because it showed Keem’s versatility, which I believe is on greater display here. You can tell Keem took a lot of inspiration from Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak era, he samples songs from that album on the two most melodic songs from this album, and Travis Scott, who works as a good comparison here. I’m not saying Keem is the next Travis Scott or anything of the sort, but there is a similar sensibility I sense in Keem’s music, a certain level of creativity and out of the box music production and song structuring that made Travis Scott such a household name in the first place. Keem has a long way to go before reaching that level, but the fact that he is aiming to make exciting and creative music that stands out is what makes him so exciting.
When you consider the fact that Keem handles his production, you can’t help but think that he might be someone special in music someday. Speaking of production, it is fantastic here on this album across the board. On highlights like “range brothers” with Kendrick Lamar, we can a lot of interesting elements being used in the beat that enhance the experience, but, as it is in most Keem songs, it’s the rappers that captivate us. Keem and Kendrick go back and forth sharing bars and then break into the infectious, and now a popular meme, “top of the morning” closer where Kendrick and Keem’s chemistry is so comically good that you can’t help but play the song again. The hook for the irreverently titled “pink panties” has the same effect, but it’s songs like “first order of business” and “issues” that really show a different side of Keem and elevate this project into something special. He’s clearly forging a path of his own and I can’t wait to see where it takes him.