By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Keem Isaiah is ready to make 2019 his year. With over 676K followers on Instagram, the words “I’m next” which sit in his bio could not be more fitting.
Born in California but raised in New York, then relocating to Dallas, the R&B singer/rapper refuses to be boxed into any genre, creating his own lane of music that not only sounds good, but the people can relate to.
Following his debut at Rolling Loud in Los Angeles after only 7 months of recording music, Keem is both strategic with his moves and patient with his journey, more focused on touching the world than getting a billboard.
AllHipHop sat down with the 22-year-old to discuss his upbringing and what fans can expect in the near future.
AllHipHop: On “Never Told,” you say “came a lot of the trap.” Talk about life before the music.
Keem Isaiah: I really did. I got kicked out of my mom’s house when I was 16. For a couple years, I was around certain people that was in that kind of stuff, in the streets. I grew up in Dallas that way. I was always in the trap. I was doing a lot of illegal stuff. I’m not going to mention what I was doing, but I practically lived there. People that I was raised within the trap house, they were my brothers. To this day, they’re locked up. I wish so bad that I can bring them with me, because they helped ME, when I was discovering what life really is. One day, I feel like we’ll reunite again. Hopefully.
AllHipHop: Is this back in Dallas?
Keem Isaiah: Yeah, Old East Dallas & Old Cliff. The bad part of Dallas. It’s pretty crazy out there in Dallas, to be honest.
AllHipHop: Dallas is trill too. Did that influence you?
Keem Isaiah: Dallas rappers never influenced me to be honest, because they had a style that I didn’t accept. I never accepted while living there. I always accepted the rappers coming out of New York and California. Really New York, so I kept my New York lingo and swag.
AllHipHop: Are you talking about the lean and the drink?
Keem Isaiah: No, I never did lean. I never plan to, because I don’t like downers. I want to be uplifted in spirit and energy. Not that I would ever do drugs anyway. Because even when I was in the trap, I never did drugs. Barely even smoked weed. I don’t smoke weed now, but I barely smoked weed back then. I don’t do any drugs whatsoever. I drink here and there.
AllHipHop: You said you used to party, so what was that conscious decision?
Keem Isaiah: That was just me trying to fit in. Do what everybody else was doing even though I didn’t feel like partying. I didn’t care for it. I always cared about growing as an individual and as a career. I only did it here and there, nothing crazy. I got into some crazy altercations at the clubs, going outside the clubs. Dealing with all that bulls##t, so I stopped doing that. I’m really careful of who I’m around. I don’t like walking anywhere alone. I’m always alone, so I don’t like going to parties and stuff, because of the experiences I’ve had.
AllHipHop: You also say “before I sign some deals, n##ga knew that I was major.” Talk about your journey independent?
Keem Isaiah: Before I stepped my foot into the industry, I always knew that I was going to be something major. To this day, I know I’m going to be one of the best artists. I know it. I don’t take anything away from any other artists, I just know what I’m capable of. I know how versatile I am, and how hard I can work for it. I move [snaps fingers] at an accelerated rate, that people can’t move in.
AllHipHop: What do you think it’s going to take to get there?
Keem Isaiah: Just making the right business moves, because everything else is pretty much down pat. I want to build a real cult following. Not just big in numbers, but connected with people as a family. Because through that, you can be as big anybody. You can be a legend through that.