Album Review: “The Melodic Blue”

The Melodic Blue album cover.

“The Melodic Blue” album cover.

Alexis Lyga, Contributing Writer

If being cousins with the greatest rapper in the world was not enough pressure, try to keep up with him on two different songs, then imagine being signed to his new media company and releasing the first album since its inception. If all of this seems like too much for most artists, know that Baby Keem is not most artists. 

The rapper who shall no longer be referred to as “Kendrick Lamar’s cousin” is putting Vegas on the map with his debut album. The Melodic Blue is not the first colorful exploration the artist has taken on as he was formerly using monochromatic color pallets as his cover art for five different singles of which only one, “durag activity,” is on the album. 

The album’s release was preceded by two singles – “durag activity” featuring Travis Scott in April and “family ties” with Kendrick Lamar just two weeks before the album itself. The latter being Lamar’s first musical appearance of the year leaving fans further anticipating his album that is rumored to drop this year. Working with artists at the same caliber as Lamar would cause some to falter, but for Keem, his excellence seems only to have worn off. 

The album begins with a melodic intro that lasts only 26 seconds until the beat drops giving way to Keem’s first verse over a spacey, futuristic beat. With multiple voices, singing, rapping, whispering, flow changes, beat switches and Rosalía vocals that add a layer of contrast and depth “trademark USA” serves as the perfect opening track as it is an accurate representation of what to expect throughout the rest of the project. A dynamic introduction like this serves as a warning that this is not just another trap project. 

Trap, hip hop’s most popular subgenre, is categorized largely by the use of synthesized drums, 808’s and minimal use of other instruments. Today, as trap has become oversaturated, it’s harder to sift through most of the commercial content that is rolled out to find the quality sounds that started this sect of rap.

The album’s trap roots mixed with an experimental approach is what marries the sounds of artists from across the country together into what may now be referred to as Vegas’ new sound. 

Clear influence is heard from an array of artists from Atlanta’s Future and Playboi Carti to his mentor and LA native, Kendrick Lamar. Despite the separation in sound geographically, Future and Carti are two of the most prominent trap artists, whereas Lamar is considered one of the greatest lyrical and conscious artists of all time. 

The diversity among Keem’s influences creates an experience that bends and blends genres, but can sometimes feel underdeveloped. Experimentation in any field yields mixed results and music is no different. Keem has been blending trap and melodies together since the beginning of his career and his sound remains throughout this album, although muffled at times. 

Artists who attack their craft with such fearlessness and attention to production have the ability to create extraordinary projects. Keem’s production is particularly on display in this album as he is given production credit on fourteen of the sixteen songs and even went as far as to call it “my best production/compositional work.”

The production and composition of The Melodic Blue is the most impressive aspect. This is not to say that there are not any impressive lyrical skills on display, but the production and exploration of sound is what makes this album stand out from the competition. The Sin City native delivered a piece of himself on The Melodic Blue while still maintaining the illusive status he has worked so hard to preserve. This album is a piece of Baby Keem, a look into his influence, his love of trap and melodies, his ear for production and his hunger to prove himself.