Keem Reign - "The inspiration for this project is LOSS. I was in a long term relationship with someone I thought would be around forever. It brought me through hell & back." - Stereo Stickman

Keem Reign “The inspiration for this project is LOSS. I was in a long term relationship with someone I thought would be around forever. It brought me through hell & back.”


In celebration of his latest 25-track album Life Goes On, we were blessed with the chance to interview rapper and artist Keem Reign about the inspiration and ambitions behind the project.

We talk about the songwriting, the performances, the genre-blending and the hooks, as well as the stories and sentiments that connect the tracks within. Here’s the conversation in full.

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Keem Reign – excited to chat with you! For those new to your music, where are you based, and how long have you been making tracks?

I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I have lived in states such as GA, NC, NV now I am currently based in Michigan. I have been making music off and on, here and there for about 9 years. This is my first official project that I’ve released to major streaming platforms. I’m actually blown away by its progression and acceptance.

Your sound tends to unite colourful production with memorable melodic hooks, plus a likable balance between heavy bass and immersive design. Who or what first inspired you to employ this style, and how do you get started when crafting a new track?

I am really new to this style of music. It took one song and I kind of coasted a new wave in a completely different arena than I was used to. I enjoy trying new things so I knew I’d be up to the challenge of venturing out of my comfort zone. The thing that inspired me to create this type of music is just wanting to more than I was at the moment. The want to transform into something different and evolve.

I just really wanted to take a different approach to the formal way I used to make music. I stopped thinking so much into the complete picture and started working each line; each melody, as its own task. I employed a new punch in tactic and i was off to the races. I get started with a lot of mumbling. I record everything and take out what I like and build around it. I sort through a bunch of voices in my head to single out the one that fits the best.

Let’s talk about the mighty Life Goes On – what was the inspiration for this project, and what connects the songs within?

The inspiration for this project is LOSS. I was in a long term relationship with someone I thought would be around forever. It brought me through hell and back. I’m grateful that I made it through dark days. This album was a release of all of those emotions. A testament to resilience and to the fact that no matter what you go through LIFE GOES ON.

How does a 25-track project come to be – did you intend for it to be this extensive, were there some tracks that didn’t make the cut, or was this a nothing-left-aside approach?

This was completely by chance. I just started recording consistently for once and didn’t let up! Sure there were a couple of unfinished tracks that I just didn’t have time to go back to. They were more of a classic RnB genre though so didn’t fit quite what I was going for with this project. I do intend to release those on their own album though. I actually am intending to experiment with a few other genres in the near future.

I gave myself a release date of Valentines Day and I was already close to that as I started recording this right after the new year! So it was really kind of rushed but that kind of pressure I put on myself actually made me more focused and determined, thus I was able to produce way more music than expected.

Why did you choose to open with the emotive and melodically catchy anthem Toxic?

Toxic was a real life account of the situation I was living. I felt it would be great to set the tone of the album. Ultimately the root of the downfall of my situation. It was an accurate depiction of the overall state my relationship was in.

Things continue with depth and character, the project quickly securing itself as one loaded with hits and honest reflections on life. Was there a therapeutic aspect to creating these songs, and where do you imagine listeners best experiencing them?

This album was definitely therapeutic. It allowed me to release my inner qualms, demons and shortcomings. It allowed me to face the things that were bothering me head on without fear of being judged. That’s the beautiful thing about doing all of the work yourself. You can really dig deep and get these things to the surface and out.

I imagine listeners best experiencing them if they are in any type of struggle or even if they have overcome similar things. I’m sure they can find something in the album that they can relate to.

Keep Running is a favourite, evocative and gentle but with a colourful bounce underneath. What do you hope listeners take away from this one?

This bounce you’re referring to is probably the tempo at which my ex is running away from me with. 😭. No seriously, I envisioned myself chasing after who I thought to be the love of my life, unable to catch up. Constantly lagging behind. Instead of continuing to increase the distance actually I started encouraging her behavior. Ultimately accepting what I could not change. I hope listeners learn to accept situations as they are instead of trying to change things you can’t control.

Do you produce your own tracks, and do you play any instruments – like the piano featured on Lightning Strike, or the sublime acoustic guitar in Sober?

I record, mix/master my own tracks. My voice is my only instrument I am at an experienced level with at the moment. I have recently been experimenting with different instruments such as the guitar and saxophone. I intend to include them on future releases. All respects go to some friends I have that are actual producers that helped me make this album a reality.

Which song from the project would you recommend to new listeners who only have time for one, and why?

That’s a really tough question to answer, each track has its own identity. They all have their own essence and each plays a pivotal role in portraying the overall landscape I intended to create when compiling this piece of art. I love each and every one about the same. If I really had to answer this, picking at random it would be Lightning Strike. I really explains the state I was in when creating this album to the T.

Talk me through the writing process for Death Bed?

Death Bed was written off of my feelings of abandonment, and how I navigated through some of the darkest times of my life. I really couldn’t see how someone I loved so deeply could just leave me behind and not look back.”

Death bed was actually the song that set this album off! It was the first single I created in this new space I was venturing into. It started off as just a probe into this field and ended up being something way more. Once I listened to it after I made it (in about an hour) I was just like “you know what I’m on to something here”. It was a relief to get that off of my chest and now I’m going to make a complete album off of these emotions.

What’s your most ambitious aspiration for this album and the year ahead?

I really wanted the album to win some type of award. I would be a little over ambitious to say a Grammy out the gate but I feel like I put my best foot forward to win some kind of recognition for the overall project.

Ultimately I just want it to connect with people if that’s not the case. I want it let them know what I’ve being going through and the trials I’ve overcome. I hope it opens door for collaboration with other artists as I was kind of selfish with my craft this time around. I made this complete album with no features. Something I’m proud of but it was really a lonely and introspective process. I feel this album will continue to grow as more and more people find themselves going through similar things as me.

Pill Popper is one of the bigger earworms of the album, along with the title-track Life Goes On. How important is the catchy aspect for you as an artist, when compared to keeping things vulnerable and real?

I think the most important thing for me is focusing on the real aspects of the things I was dealing with in my life. I wasn’t as worried about being catchy as I was about getting my point across. The catchiness you’re referring to is just me being a little repetitive emphasizing the magnitude of the REAL emotions I was feeling and circumstances I’ve been faced with.

Given the relatable depth of the topic, and the faster trap pace – How different was your headspace when writing and recording 4 My Son?

4 my son was specifically for my child I haven’t been able to get in contact with at the moment. Unfortunate circumstances. I hope he can look back one day and know that I love him very much and forgive me for my absence.

Although it was upbeat I was definitely in a low place when recording it. It started off with me thinking what I would put in a letter if I sent to him, into the notes of my phone. The beat I was listening to switched and suddenly everything fit, it changed one more time and I had a melody for the hook. Very concise and direct. A crazy turn of events. REAL LIFE!

You also deliver fast bars and wordplay throughout Droppin That – how important is it for you to showcase your ability as a rapper, when compared to authenticity and songwriting?

I don’t even think about what talents I’m showcasing when making music. I’m very fortunate to have these things, you know. I just utilize whatever I need to in the pocket the beat/music allows. I go off of what the beat is drawing out of me the most and go with it. That’s the thing I believe sets me apart most from other artists. I take away the ability for people to put me in a box or any one genre. I can do almost anything I put my mind to vocally.

How would you describe the sound or style of this album?

This album is most certainly unorthodox in most aspects. It leaves you guessing. It’s not perfect by any means, but that just goes along with life – no one is perfect.

“It honestly sounds like a bunch of people are featuring, there are a ton of different flows and styles, but rest assured it’s all me.”

Will you be touring this year?

If it is in the cards then, yes. I’ve just been taking things a day at a time. I’m not really familiar with this whole process, but sure – if anywhere will have me, I’m willing to perform!

What’s next for you?

I am constantly recording and making new music. I plan to continue releasing projects that are relatable and well received until I have the stability and connections that I’m looking for to take things to the next level! Stay tuned as you never know what I will be dropping next!

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Find Keem Reign here or via Instagram. Download the album through Apple.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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