Baby Keem creates music that is meant to be played out loud.
Earlier this year, the 21-year-old rapper announced that he was getting ready to hit the road for a North American tour in support of his debut album, The Melodic Blue. When the announcement surfaced online via Keem’s social media, a flier and presale code accompanied his tweet, briefing fans on where (and when) the 28-date run would make landfall.
This past Friday, concertgoers made their way to The Underground in Charlotte, North Carolina for a standing-room only event. The line was completely wrapped around the building, running parallel with the sold-out Oliver Tree show next door. Hundreds of people crammed their way into the venue, donning ski masks, loose-fit clothing, and their favorite pair of slightly-worn sneakers; quintessential mosh pit attire by today’s standards.
The stage was set, small but sturdy nonetheless. After announcing his partnership with pgLang earlier this month, Tanna Leone was enlisted as the opening act for the second leg of The Melodic Blue tour. Although he’s still breaking ground as a new artist, Tanna made sure his presence was felt, interacting with the crowd through eye contact and even creating videos using their phone mid-performance. After he left the stage, the chants for Keem intensified: “we want Keem,” fans beseeched.
After a brief intermission, an acknowledgement of the emergency exit locations played over the intercom, a tell-tale sign that Keem’s set is about to start. The lights dim and he emerges from a cloud of smoke to the tune of “trademark usa,” the high-energy opening track on The Melodic Blue. Thankfully, The Undergound’s concrete floors were able to withstand the aggressive frolicking from fans as they inched towards the front of the stage, unlike the Detroit run that came to an abrupt end.
With only his silhouette in sight, the pulsating beat of “hooligan” filled the room as the Grammy-nominated artist made his way to centerstage in the form of a black outline amongst strobe lights. Once the smoke cleared, more followed, contributing to the ongoing heat wave from moving bodies. In fact, the only ventilation in close proximity to the stage came from the person standing behind you, breathing heavily on your neck while singing along word for word.
Keem went on to perform “pink panties” and “scapegoats” before transitioning into “MOSHPIT,” which was well-received by fans as they repeatedly screamed “I am 50 Cent” in a chantlike manner. Throughout the night, there was never a dull moment; any song that he played caused the crowd to erupt with excitement. “Booman” – Baby Keem’s moniker – was somewhat of a pivot into a more melodic, personal space. Immediately following, “issues” permeated the air with stirring emotion, causing the California-born MC to take a knee as he poured his heart out on stage.
The remainder of the concert was like an intense workout session, finding fans gasping for air while in search of water and enough motivation to finish strong. To close out the night, Keem bid his final adieu to supporters by performing one of his Kendrick Lamar-assisted tracks from The Melodic Blue album, “family ties.”
It should go without saying that Baby Keem is a standout from his Gen-Z rap contemporaries. He has one of the most unique voices in music today and possesses the showmanship of a veteran performer. With a Grammy-nomination in pocket and his continual evolution as an artist, it’s only a matter of time before the world learns to embrace Baby Keem’s greatness.
Check out the remaining dates for Baby Keem’s The Melodic Blue tour.