Kendrick Lamar declares Baby Keem to be a “musical genius”

Kendrick Lamar has declared fellow Californian rapper, songwriter and record producer Baby Keem – who is also Lamar’s cousin – to be a “musical genius”.

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Being relatives, Lamar and Keem have worked closely together since the latter started his career in the mid-2010s. One of Keem’s earliest credits was a nod for production on ‘Redemption Interlude’, a track on Lamar’s 2018 soundtrack for Black Panther. March 2020 then saw Keem sign to Lamar’s company/label, pgLang, and the following August, their first collaborative single came in the form of ‘Family Ties’.

That song, as well as another joint track titled ‘Range Brothers’ – and ‘Vent’, which featured an uncredited guest spot from Lamar – appeared on Keem’s pgLang-issued debut album, ‘The Melodic Blue’ (which NME called one of the best debut albums of 2021).


The NME 100 member linked back up with Lamar for three songs on his own latest album, ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’, co-writing and -producing ‘N95’, co-producing the Blxst and Amanda Reifer-assisted ‘Die Hard’, and guesting on ‘Saviour’ alongside Sam Dew.

The cousins have also appeared together onstage a handful of times over the past couple of years, including spots at this year’s Coachella and Glastonbury festivals. For the past month, Keem has been opening for Lamar on the ‘Big Steppers’ world tour – they’re currently midway through the North American leg, with shows in Europe, the UK, Australia and New Zealand still to follow.

Overnight, Lamar hit Twitter with a range of declarations pertaining to the tour, calling his current setup “the greatest show alive”. He then referred to Keem as a “musical genius”, and described Tanna Leone – who is also supporting the tour, and performed alongside Lamar on ‘Mr. Morale’ from the titular album – as “generation next”.


Lamar, notably, gave no context whatsoever for his takes.

The North American leg of the ‘Big Steppers’ tour continues in Detroit tonight (August 14), with a further 22 dates on the itinerary before the run heads to Europe. Lamar, Keem and Leone will then play 16 shows in the region – as well as 10 in the UK – and then head to Australia and New Zealand for the final leg of eight shows. See the full list of dates here, then find tickets for the American shows here, for Europe and the UK here, and for Australia and New Zealand here.

‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ earned a five-star review from NME – wherein Kyann-Sian Williams called it “a cathartic, soul-baring autobiography” – while the album has also received praise from the likes of Lorde, Pharrell Williams, Madonna, producer DJ Dahi, Eminem and Tyler, The Creator.

Yesterday (August 13), it was reported that Lamar would be eligible for the Best Live Action Short award at the 2023 Oscars, thanks to the extended music video for ‘We Cry Together’ being screened theatrically. Earlier this month, he played a surprise intimate show in New York, and shared a heartfelt letter reflecting on the power of rap music.

At the start of the month, Sounwave – a collaborator and producer of Lamar’s – revealed that he and Lamar had begun working on the follow-up to ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’.