GEN V: Baby Keem

GEN V: Baby Keem

They may be young, but their creative energy knows no bounds. Meet Generation V.

They may be young, but their creative energy knows no bounds. Meet Generation V.

Photography: Doug Inglish

Styling: Andrew Vottero

Text: Julia Gray

This article appears in the pages of V124: Generation V, available for purchase now at shop.vmagazine.com.

Baby Keem is a rapper’s rapper poised to go mainstream. At 18 years old, Keem, born Hykeem Carter, already has two EPs and two full-length projects under his belt, plus production credits on albums from Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and the Black Panther franchise. His latest solo work, 2019’s Die For My Bitch, has received cosigns from the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Vince Staples, Drake, A$AP Rocky, and BROCKHAMPTON.

Despite his laundry list of collaborators, including Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, the LA-via-Las Vegas artist doesn’t like to single out one inspiration over another: “It’s unfair to point to one muse,” he demures. No matter where his influences lie, Keem’s technique is undeniable. Throughout Die For My Bitch, he strategically deploys his arsenal of skills, alternating between slow jams and explosive bangers. Sometimes he’s raw and vulnerable, like on “Apologize,” in which he admits, “Baby, don’t worry, I’m too numb to apologize.” Other times he drips with unabashed confidence, spitting lyrics that are confrontational yet hypnotically inviting, like those of a gritty lullaby. Standout Die For My Bitch single “Orange Soda” harks back to the golden age of hardcore rap, centering on a certain frank invitation: “Girl sit on my face, I attack that.” The beat-drop that follows this modest proposal is equally hard-hitting. Despite his forward delivery, Keem’s romantic tendencies, which he expressed early on in his childhood poetry writing, shine through in his music as well: “You can love me and still do me wrong/I’ve been hurt but I still remain strong,” he poetically waxes on “Bully.”

“Eventually it all came together,” he says of his rap-game success. “I plan on progressing and staying creative.” His turns of phrase are deft and playful, and his charisma is fierce. “Apologize,” in which he ascends into sing-rap, minor-key mode, is decidedly a non-apology—suggesting he’ll be expressing himself for years to come. Because, despite his cherubic moniker, there’s nothing underdeveloped about Baby Keem.“I don’t feel like [my age] has any effect, and I think my fans [agree],” he explains. “I hold myself to the highest standard.”

all clothing Boss

shoes Dr. Martens

bracelet Cartier

watch Omega[/caption]

Credits: Makeup: Hinako (The Wall Group) Hair: Dennis Gots (The Wall Group) Digital technician: Maxfield Hegedus Photo assistants: Ryan Moraga, Julian Dakdouk, Michael Clifford Stylist assistant: Madeleine Issa Makeup assistant: Risa Miyamoto Hair assistants: Jesika Miller, Andres Copeland

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