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The Melodic Blue

by Baby Keem

Released September 10, 2021 via pgLang / Columbia Records

Reviewed September 20, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
family ties (75%), trademark usa (43%), range brothers (36%)

Baby Keem’s place atop the list for albums of the year was unexpected, but here we are. Working closely with Kendrick Lamar, Baby Keem’s latest project, The Melodic Blue, is a premature classic. The album radiates Kendrick’s energy and comes with elite features, but it’s not fair to keep Keem in his shadow. Baby Keem is his own man and a damn good rapper, providing endless flows and insane production on every track. The vibes of “South Africa” are perfect to drive to and “Range Brothers” should be played at the top of every morning. The energy Keem brings is palpable, as he goes off on every song, pouring his heart into every second. It’s inspiring to see artists putting this much effort into their projects and the results of The Melodic Blue are telling. – Daniel (9/10)

Littered with fragments of the high energy, catchy hooks, and impressively niche one-liners found on his earlier works, Baby Keem’s The Melodic Blue employs a somewhat matured and reserved attitude seldom seen from a 20-year-old. After three decent to very strong EPs, Keem’s debut album finds the young talent adventuring into new sounds while also sticking to his biggest calling card: Originality. Tracks like “pink panties” and “vent” are reminiscent of the style seen on 2019’s DIE FOR MY BITCH, featuring banging instrumentals with a strong mix of snappy and euphonious verses that are the epitome party hits. But the intriguing pieces to a seasoned Keem fan are the moments that deviate from that formula. “scapegoats,” “issues,” and “16” find Keem successfully dabbling in a realm far removed from his usual domain. These instrumentals have more breathing room, less percussion, and the hooks feel more intimate; tracks like these are intermingled with heavy hitters, and the beat switches are plentiful from track to track. But what might come across as disjointed to some, renders itself shifty, abstract, and consistently entertaining to others. Keem improvises and slithers through tracks with finesse a la ‘07 J Crossover, leaving fans both disoriented and wholly impressed. Barely out of his teens, Baby Keem already feels like the future of hip-hop, and this album shows he’s capable of being more than a one-trick pony. – Pax (8.9/10)

In the two years since Baby Keem dropped DIE FOR MY BITCH, he has catapulted into the mainstream. Multiple hit songs, Drake and Jay Z co-signs, Kanye West and Travis Scott collabs, and the realization that Kendrick Lamar is his cousin: Keem’s history has made a perfect setup for his debut record. The long-awaited The Melodic Blue is a solid follow-up, maintaining his energy and unpredictability, while leaving room for him to evolve as an artist. He takes a lot of risks here—like “pink panties” and “issues”—laying the foundation for better, more ambitious efforts in future projects. After two featureless mixtapes, Baby Keem pulls out the big names of Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Rosalía, and Don Toliver. Each one does their thing, but something to note is how well he meshes with Kendrick; the two artists’ contrasting styles play well off each other, and their chemistry makes each track that much better. Overall, The Melodic Blue is no DIE FOR MY BITCH, but it’s still a promising debut that’s interesting enough to pique interest for future endeavors. – Alan (7.9/10)

The vastly imaginative songwriting and next-level production of Baby Keem’s previous efforts have evolved yet again in his latest album, and he’s still yet to fully tap into his high caliber potential. The Melodic Blue is easily this year’s most adventurous and volatile rap album to maintain a mainstream persuasion. Keem’s willingness to push the envelope works largely in his favor, with minor faults that allow for the album to fall short of totally exceptional status. More so than DIE FOR MY BITCH, Keem’s influences are brandished on his sleeve. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Travis Scott, Future, Lil Baby, Playboi Carti, and several others are tastefully blended in varying quantities, but it’s often unchallenging to hear the specific moment any of these artists are at play. Furthermore, while such a myriad of ideas are a thrill to hear, the composition of these ideas across sixteen tracks fails to complement each other into a totally cohesive album. It’s obvious how adept Baby Keem can be with the different dialects of modern hip-hop, and it suggests he’ll refine his formula to perfection on one or more of his future projects. – DeVán (7.9/10)

Daniel: 9/10 | Pax: 8.9/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10 | Alan: 7.9/10

DeVán: 7.9/10 | Cam: 7/10 | Dominick: 6/10


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