The Melodic Blue 

Riley Lose, Staff Writer

Baby Keem’s debut album, The Melodic Blue, was released on September 10, 2021, and became an instant classic. Shortly following the release of his hit single, Family Ties, The Melodic Blue was Baby Keem’s first studio album. It features an array of genres, ranging from straight-up hip-hop to slower songs closer to the RNB genre. This mind-blowing album is extremely diverse and highlights Keem’s rapping and song-writing ability which he has shown hints of in his former music. While the album lacks overall coherence, each song provides a separate experience that spreads to several types of listeners. 

Track 1: Trademark USA 

The album begins with a rollercoaster of a track. Starting with the soft, melodic intro from Keem where he recites bars from his XXL Freshman freestyle. The song quickly changes pace as the beat drops and leads to his first verse. In his intro song, Keem talks about how he feels responsible for providing for his grandma, a prominent parental figure in his life. He also talks about how he feels he was chosen to lead his family out of their problems. This first verse alone foreshadows a lot of what we will hear from Baby Keem on this album. A beat switch acts as a segue for Baby Keem into his second verse. Once again, he references taking care of his mom with the line, “Just net ten million, now I’m back with the Wraith; and I’m goin’ home with the loot, Mama goin’ home with a coupe.” A chorus from Spanish artist Rosalia puts the cherry on top of this song as one of Baby Keem’s wildest. The song ends with a Travis Scott-like outro. 

Trademark USA is a perfect intro song to this album. It highlights the parts of Keem’s music which will be repeated throughout the entire album. He shows that he can switch from his typical upbeat rapping style to a more melodic flow. Keem references his mother and grandma who helped raise him, and now he feels obligated to take care of them in return for what they have done to help him.  

Track 2: Pink Panties 

After a spectacular intro, Baby Keem moves into a self-produced song, Pink Panties. This song’s chorus features underground hip hop artist, Che Acru. While this song is a hit or miss for most people, I tend to enjoy the song. The chorus, verse, and message of the song is quite explicit as Baby Keem explains his struggles with his promiscuous lifestyle, something Baby Keem mentions a lot.  

This song shows Baby Keem’s production skills. The production to this song is right up Keem’s alley and he makes a solid second track to his album with Pink Panties. Although this song does not provide any coherence to the album, it proves that Baby Keem is here to stay and is investing in his production skills to put out hits.  

Track 3: Scapegoats 

Scapegoats take a complete 180 from Pink Panties. This 1-minute interlude features Baby Keem rapping over a percussion-less sample titled “redemption.” Keem uses this interlude to speak on some more serious issues in his life. He mentions how he raps for fun to cope with the darker part of his life which deals with his mother and his deceased uncle. He ends the song with an outro that connects Baby Keem’s mind with that of the character, The Melodic Blue.  

This track is one of the most promising songs on this album. It shows Baby Keem’s raw rapping skill as he proves he can put down bars if he has to. It also gives insight into his backstory and how he dealt with lots of tragedy in his family and uses a party lifestyle to mask his pain. Although this is only an interlude, it teases the potential that Baby Keem has, and hopefully in the future, he expands on this talent. 

Track 4: Range Brothers (with Kendrick Lamar) 

Range Brothers is the second collaboration between Baby Keem and his cousin Kendrick Lamar. This song, like Family Ties, gives everything you would want out of a track from these two. It starts off with an incredibly distorted 808 baseline which is immediately contrasted by Baby Keem’s high-pitched voice. Keem plays with autotune for a few bars until the first beat switch comes in featuring a dramatic orchestra and more pounding 808s. As outrageous as the production is on this track, it works well with Baby Keem’s flow and cadence. Kendrick comes on the song and begins trading bars back and forth with Keem. They speak about topics like managing money, Keem’s family facing financial issues, and how Keem feels he has large shoes to fill because he is the cousin of Kendrick Lamar. The outro to this song is… bizarre. While it feels like an unnecessary addition to the track, it shows a more brother-esque dynamic to the song, thus the name Range Brothers. 

This track works as another anticipated Keem and Kendrick collab. While most of this track is upbeat, fun rapping, it still shows how Keem and Kendrick can make more than just one hit together. Once again, this track shows Keem’s rapping ability while incorporating his “range brother” Kendrick Lamar. 

Track 5: Issues 

Issues provides a much slower and somber song. As the title suggests, in this song Keem talks about his issues. He speaks on the issues he has had with his unstable household and running away from home. This song along with a later song, Scars sounds like a cry for help. In both songs, he voices these issues and makes it clear that he does not understand why he feels this way. This song appeals to an audience that likes slower songs while also being relatable to people who have had problems with their families.  

This song shows Baby Keem’s diversity and ability to express his deeper side in his songs. Baby Keem is not known for this slow style of music, but it still sounds good. Being such a versatile artist is what makes Keem so special and shows that he is here to stay. 

Track 6: Gorgeous 

Gorgeous is a song that clearly draws influences from other artists. The first thing that comes to mind is Kanye West on his album 808s and Heartbreaks. The autotune and melodic rapping on the chorus makes Gorgeous sound like a song right off Ye’s album. Another influence heard on this song is Travis Scott. The autotuned moaning heard from Keem on this track is like how Travis Scott sounds on intros and outros to his songs. The substance in this song talks about how he is noticeably confident and not afraid to show off his girl. 

This upbeat song is just another banger from Keem. In this song, he shows off his flow and cadence as well as his ability to construct songs effectively. While the purpose of this song is to be high energy, it shows more creative elements of Keem’s songwriting and production as the song flows perfectly on the instrumental. 

Track 7: South Africa 

South Africa is a hit-or-miss track for the album. It features an oddly slow chorus on a simple piano beat with some heavy, distorted 808s. This song is supposed to be a heavy hitter, but the chorus does not fully bring it home. While I enjoy the song, I have seen several others who just did not vibe with the chorus. This is one of those songs that may grow on you after multiple listens.  

What this track did well was highlight just how powerful Baby Keem is on an instrumental breakdown. This is when most of the instruments in the beat will cease and isolate only one instrument and the vocals. There are multiple instances in this song where Keem raps over a breakdown. During these, Keem can deliver some heavy-hitting bars and really punctuate those breakdowns. 

Track 8: Lost Souls 

Lost Souls is one of the most experimental songs on the album so far. It features a mellow beat with some deep 808s. Baby Keem experiments with autotuned vocals on this song as he attempts to incorporate different melodies and runs into the song. While I applaud Keem’s effort, it does not work for me. The runs that he tries with the autotune, and his vocals overall do not sound mixed well enough and in some cases, they even sound out of tune. This song really shines with its outro. The outro shows Keem talking out an argument he had with a significant other of his. The autotuned vocals in this section sound much more natural and fit with the acoustic drums that come in very well. While I understand this song was more on the experimental side, the song just did not work for me. 

Track 9: Cocoa (with Don Toliver) 

Cocoa is a collaboration track with none other than Don Toliver. This track features a chaotic instrumental with some heavy-hitting drums. This song shows that Baby Keem can write full verses and put down bars for a four-minute song. There is not anything mind-blowing in the lyrics, but the production makes up for it. The track is complete with Don Toliver hopping on. Let me be the first one to tell you, Don Toliver is that guy. He comes in and immediately begins flowing on the beat and lays down a very solid feature. This track is overall just a speaker thumper. The bars hit hard, and so do the kicks on this song. 

Track 10: Family Ties (with Kendrick Lamar) 

Family Ties was the single which was released before The Melodic Blue which skyrocketed Baby Keem’s exposure. This song is for sure his best. This single shows everything you need to hear from Baby Keem. When the song was first released, lots of people were listening only for the Kendrick Lamar feature. Baby Keem had other plans. In Baby Keem’s intro verse, he articulates some of his strongest lines and shows that he has the potential to live up to his cousin’s career. This track has two beat switches and is all over the place, in an effective way. Baby Keem was able to carry his weight in the first two verses of the song and Kendrick Lamar hops on the track after the second beat switch. Kendrick Lamar, after years of silence, dropped one of the best verses of 2021. Kendrick speaks about his frustration with the hip hop game and wanted to reinstate himself as the G.O.A.T. This track is a bumping single and will remain on my playlist for years to come.  

Track 11: Scars 

Scars is another track that takes on a more mellow tone. This track, like issues, sounds like a cry for help from Baby Keem. He speaks about him asking God why He made his life so hard. The instrumental for this track is not like Keem’s usual production. It features a soft piano and some acoustic drums. This track plays itself out like a movie as the production slowly ramps up throughout the entire song. This song is another example of Keem showing off his skills and diversity in music. This song is another insight into Baby Keem’s more personal life. He speaks about his struggles with his social life and his confusion about how difficult his life is.  

Track 12: Durag Activity (with Travis Scott) 

Durag Activity is another single which came before the album. This song features a mellow hip-hop beat with Baby Keem rapping in a monotone voice. This track was a miss for me, and it is not a horrible song, but it is simply different from Keem’s usual style. It is also a change for Travis Scott. The only problem with this song is that it takes away so much from what Travis and Keem can offer. The instrumental does not provide enough room for creativity for either artist and while they were still able to put down bars, it could have been improved if the instrumental were different. 

Track 13: Booman 

Booman explores a separate side of Baby Keem. Booman is a nickname of Keem as we hear in previous songs from him. This song picks up the energy with a Latin American sample which loops over some hefty 808s. This song displayed how well Keem can flow on an instrumental. Also, it shows that Keem can rap over a sample very well as he does not use samples in his music a lot. This feel-good track shows the confidence of Keem and the side of him which is known as Booman.  

Track 14: First Order of Business 

First Order of Business is one of the most exceptional songs on this project. On this track, Keem talks about his priorities and how he wants to spread his wealth to his family. Specifically, his mother and grandmother. He also talks about how he wants to improve to better his relationships with not only his parents but his significant others as well. The instrumental for this track is remarkably simple, but it fits Baby Keem so well. The mellow and low-frequency lead with some more hefty 808s along with Keem’s voice is spectacular. He speaks of his doubts about his future and his relationships. Overall, this song is one of the most impressive to me. 

Track 15: Vent 

Vent features a dramatic introduction with sub-bass and high-pitched synths. After that, we hear Kendrick Lamar over a deep guitar where he says, “Have you ever been punched in your m*****f****** face, what you say, oh you haven’t alright wait.” This song is exactly what the title says. It is a song for Keem and Kendrick to vent their frustrations. This song radiates confidence from Keem as he talks about how he is willing to fight anyone in the game who does not like him. Keem knows that his music is here to stay and is telling everyone that if they do not like him, then too bad. 

Track 16: 16 

The final track on this album, 16, finishes off with a mellow song where Keem voices his difficulties in relationships. He references his mother and grandmother in this song as he apologizes for all the wrongs he has done. The chorus to this track seems to be between Keem and a significant other where he explains to them that he will always be there to support them. Another breathtaking song that explains some of Keem’s backstory and a look into his personal life. This is the perfect outro to such an overwhelming album. It shows that there is a lot more to Keem than meets the eye. He wants it to be known that while most people see him as someone who makes bumping music, there is a deeper side to his personality that he can make music with.  


This album is a doozy to listen to. While it may not be for everyone, it includes several types of songs that appeal to listeners from other genres. This album was successfully experimental on Keem’s behalf. He branches out into other genres and executes them quite effectively. This album shows the potential that Baby Keem has in the hip-hop game. A lot of people counted him out and chalked him up to just being related to Kendrick Lamar. However, I think Kendrick’s influence is for the better. While you can tell that Keem takes inspiration from his cousin, he is still able to make his own unique sound.  

Not every song on this album works for me, but it works together as a whole. It shows Keem trying to step away from his concert music and explore more of the musical aspects of his work. This is absolutely the direction Keem needs to take and if he continues to keep up his production, he will remain in the hip hop game for years to come.