Slidin’ Thru: Keem Isaiah

January 17, 2019

Read the full interview on YoungCalifornia.com!

Keem Isaiah is here to make 2019 his bitch, which is exactly why his climb to success has been so fluent. With a vision to be “one of the best artists in the world” and an even greater work ethic to match, the 22-year-old knows exactly what he needs to do to get there. Read more…

Having resided in the rougher parts of Dallas and experienced his fair share of partying and living in trap houses, the R&B singer/rapper brings a realness and authenticity that listeners can’t help but gravitate toward and relate to. The crazy part remains that Keem only started making music 7 months ago, marked by his return to California.

For those just tuning in, the “Never Told” music video is a great place to start.

For those who don’t know, who is Keem Isaiah?
Keem Isaiah is a very talented artist coming out right now. 2019 is going to be a crazy year. I’m Puerto Rican and black. I don’t know what else to say about me.

Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I’m both. I don’t necessarily have a lane. I want to do all genres. I’m not categorized in any specific genre. I like to do everything. I’ll probably jump into country too. [laughs] Facts.

You’re from SoCal right?
I’m born in San Bernardino, but I was raised in New York until I was about 17, then I moved to Texas. Stayed in Dallas for a few years, then I came back here. East, West & South, I got it all.

Do you technically say you’re from New York then?
Yes. New York is my city.

How does that play into your life and career?
Because I grew up listening to everybody coming out of New York. Biggie Smalls was a huge inspiration for me. All the great artists coming out of New York right now, even Cardi B, I’m inspired by them too. The love for the city is crazy.

How long have you been in LA now?
It’s actually been about 7 months now. I just moved down here. I was nobody 7 months ago, so I did all this in 7 months.

What were you doing before the music?
I always loved the music, but I was just a regular 21-year-old. Doing regular people stuff, partying, and then I stopped all that.

Did you go to school?
Nah, hell nah. Not that I have anything against school, it’s just not for me. I worked one regular job in my life. All the other times, I was making money my way. I’m not going to get into the details on that. [chuckles]

How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s very important, because I do have family down here who helped me. I love the city. I had never been to LA except when I was a little kid, one year old. I was born here. Since I was a teenager growing up, I’m like “damn, I want to be in LA.” It’s a crazy feeling to experience LA, the city, all the traffic, but I love it here.

At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
When people started telling me I’m next up, and I started getting really good. I’m not cocky, I’m just confident.

Did you just literally pick it up?
It’s always been. I’ve always been a dancer. As a kid, I always danced (like Michael Jackson). It’s always registered in my brain to make music, I just wasn’t always as good or as confident. But now, I’m building that every day, and getting better every day. Music is always going to be me ‘til the day I die.

What inspired you to make music?
The thought, idea, and the vision of touching people around the world. Just that. I feel like the way I can do that is through music, so I’ll take that route because it’s most efficient for me. I can do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Is Keem Isaiah your real name?
My real name is Hakeem. Isaiah is my middle name, so Keem is short for Hakeem Isaiah. I like the way it sounds. It’s got a ring to it. It’s something I feel like can be remembered.

You just dropped “Mood Change.” What was your mind state in creating this one?
I was thinking about a girl, she broke my heart. She kind of did low key, because I didn’t trust her. “Mood Change” was how my mood changed when I’m around her. Even though I felt like I couldn’t trust her, when she’s around, I trust her again. I forget about everything. That’s something people can relate to, they just don’t speak on it. I want to make music that people think, but never say.

Does she know that it’s about her?

Did she say anything?
She did. She loves my music, my message, and the way I write. I made a couple songs about her, but it didn’t last.

Can you talk about building your following? You’re pretty poppin’ on IG.
To be honest, I just kept it real with everybody. I always said things that nobody said. I always did things that nobody did. I was always myself. That’s what helped me a lot, just staying true to myself. Telling people what they need to hear and not what they want. Because I’m very blunt, I’ma to tell you what it is. I’m always going to do that, even with music. So if it’s like this now, just imagine a year from now. 2019 is going to be a crazy year.

What is your take on the music industry?
It needs change, and I could help out.

Are you looking to sign?
I actually got a few offers. I’m not going to say any names, but I got 3 offers. I’m not going to sign. I want to build my brand first and have more leverage. I’m a businessman as well as an artist. I’ve always been a businessman, I just had to find the artist in me.

I was watching the “Never Told” music video, which was actually shot by the homie Josh. How do you know him?
I met him through some people I was working with at the studio. Josh is really creative, I like it. He really brought out this image that fits me so well. This cool, smooth criminal type of deal, but fashionable and also gangster at the same time. Which describes me, because I like fashion and then my upbringing. Josh goes hard.

What a small world.
That’s what I keep saying! LA is so small. Everybody knows everybody. It’s crazy. I was just thinking this yesterday. Somebody told me they went to this party, that I know the owners. Some girl I knew went there and there were talking about me, etc. That’s why I like to stay alone. I don’t want to get involved in any drama right now. I’m good.

Can we expect anymore videos?
Of course. People can expect music and videos. People need to expect everything coming out right now, especially in 2019. I keep saying it’s going to be a crazy year, but I can’t stress that enough.

Is there a project coming?
Probably a couple singles then a project. That’s what I’m leaning towards right now.

What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I want them to know who I really am and what I represent. What I’m trying to do for people, what I’m trying to do for the world. I feel like I’m a light, an inspiration.

What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
What ain’t my goals is the question. As far as 2019 goes, I want to make a lot of money of course. I want to be known the way I want to be. I don’t plan to hit billboards, that’s not what I want right now. I just want to build my cult following, my fan base, my family with my people. I want to inspire the youth. I want to do numbers. That’s it right now, just hit numbers.

How important is social media for your career?
Social media is so important. Not only for my career, but everybody’s career. That’s the way to market yourself. You can do what labels do if you know how to do it right. It’s a strategy that’s so convenient. There’s so many things I can do so much better right now, but I’m preparing myself. I just know when it’s time, when it’s not time. I’m patient. I can move way faster if I wanted to.

I feel like there’s so much going on in your brain.
There is. I think more than the average person. Everybody says that, I’m different.

What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Working out. I love basketball. Music connects what I’m doing, what kind of plans. Talking to different people, what we can work on, what we can branch, what we can do better. I like to have a strong team around me. That’s an everyday life for me. You don’t see me at the clubs or in the parties. You see me just working. People that know me know that I’m working. I barely sleep. I’m just thinking, planning, and plotting while everyone else is sleeping. There’s so many opportunities out in the world that there’s not enough time to be sleeping. I don’t want to sleep my life away. I don’t want to waste too much time.

Everything needs to be precise with what I’m trying to do. The strategy, everything needs to be pinpoint on. My whole brand. Me, how I look, how I carry myself, that’s my brand. That took a lot of work to do too. I’m becoming who I’ve always wanted to become. I’m not who I’ve always wanted to be yet, but I’m almost there. It’s a process. 2019 I’m definitely going to show who I am. They’re going to know who Keem is.

You’re making 2019 sound bomb.
[laughs] That’s how it should be and that’s how you should feel. If you ain’t feeling like that, then what’s the point of working, right? You’re supposed to love what you do and enjoy the process. Trust the process.

3 things you need in the studio?
Honestly, I just need a good environment. I need somebody who has good work ethic because if not, then I’m going to be bummed out. I’d rather just do it myself. If I knew how to engineer, produce, and record my own self — which I do know how to record myself, and engineer a little bit, but it’s just faster when you do it with someone else. Work ethic is important, a good environment, and some water. I’m set for life. I can live in the studio with that. And of course, some food. Uber Eats, get me a deal!

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
See I never thought life without music, so I can’t answer that question. I wouldn’t be doing anything else. I wouldn’t even be on this earth. I wouldn’t be born.

But 7 months ago, you weren’t doing music!
You right, but my mind and heart was always in music no matter what. If i didn’t make music, I’d be listening to it. I’m telling you, there’s no way around music. You could ask me that a million times, the answer’s going to be the same.

How was Rolling Loud?
Rolling Loud was lit. Shout out to Matt, one of the owners of Rolling Loud. He’s mad dope, he’s a cool dude.

How do you know him?
Actually, I met him through Julio. We’re all a team. He got in contact with Julio, they started talking and figured some stuff out. Matt is really helping in the process of the growth. Matt told us personally that I’m on my way up. It’s mad dope. It was lit. I did some interviews. I did things I never did. It’s like yo, I’m meant for this. It’s what I’m meant for. It’s nerve wracking when you see all those people, but that’s what life is. It’s nerve wracking. Regardless of what environment you’re in, what profession, it’s life. And my life is success.

What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
To be honest, I haven’t had too many encounters with fans. I don’t meet up with fans like a lot of rappers do, but I want to start doing meet & greets and stuff like that. I’ve had some meet me at malls and random places. They go crazy like “oh my god, I love you so much,” and take a picture. I love that because I’m like “I’m doing something right.”

Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Damn. Probably my boy Tory Lanez. I actually know Tory Lanez. I’ve talked to him before. That was when I was first starting with music, I told him how much of an inspiration he is to me. We will collab. We will.

That’s crazy because I remember I supported him from day one and to see his career blow up…
Right? His work ethic is ridiculous. It’s crazy. I feel like he should have gotten noticed way sooner. Some people just get noticed when they get noticed. Me, I always got noticed fast. I don’t take anything away from Tory Lanez. I’m not talking shit in any kind of way. Tory Lanez, don’t come at me with any funny shit. He be wildin’ out. He’s mad cool though. Tory is a Leo, I’m a Leo. We can relate on a lot of different things in our upbringings and in life. He’s definitely my favorite artist.

After that, the most played would be Drake. Don’t even get me started on Drake. His market is on a whole other level. Bryson Tiller, Post Malone. I could name a few more, but my mind is fried and tired.

Dream collab?
To be honest, being humble, I don’t have a dream collab. I don’t feel like it’s a dream to collab, unless it was Michael Jackson or Biggie Smalls. Everybody else, we’re all in the same profession. It’s going to happen. Why dream on it? Dream about bigger things such as touching the world.

Is there anything else you want to let us know?
I think my actions will speak. I’ve just touched on the basics. As far as everything else goes, just look forward to 2019 looking at me, because you’re going to be seeing me a lot.

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