A product of the Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube generation, 20-year old Keim LeMarc is more than an artist. He is a veritable public relations and marketing strategist with faith working on his side. Keim found me on Twitter and encouraged me to click on the link to his music. Twitter is a great go-to for trending topics but with the most popular participants having followers in the hundreds of thousands to millions, it is easy for individual identity to get lost in the fray. Moreover, finding relevant, social heavy hitters in your particular area takes planning and attention. His link almost became lost in my to-do list until one day his unique name popped in my head and I gave his album a listen. After the first song, I was intrigued to listen. After the second song, I was hooked. Download the album here, “Young and Wreckless.”
To read my review of his album, click the link A Review of Keim LeMarc’s “Young and Wreckless”, A D.C. Instrumental Hip Hop Album
When I offered the opportunity to interview, he understood the benefit of press and jumped on it immediately. True to his album it is easy to forget you are listening to a novice. Although friendly, every response seemed calculated and his entire demeanor was patient and calm. Clearly, he knows what the entertainment industry requires of him. More importantly, Keim knows who he is. If he keeps using social networks like this, it won’t take long for the world to know him either.
Today is Sunday, February 3, 2013.
Me: Hi Keim. Thanks for meeting with me today.
Keim: Thank you.
Me: That album that I listened to, “Young and Wreckless”, is that your only album?
Keim: Yes. It’s my first album and now that it’s done, I’m working on another one.
Me: I remember listening to your song “Freestyles on 12th Street.” It could very well be my favorite song of the track list.
What motivated you to start rapping?
Keim: Growing up listening to hip-hop my whole life, 90s music, Tu Pac and Biggie, I liked what they were doing.
Me: [That question might seem obvious but…] I remember when I was around your age, hip-hop was not getting that much love in DC. Go-go was the focus back then and…
Keim: Yeah, when older people listen to my music they say they like it but they say that if they tried to rap when they were my age, people would have called them bammas.
Me: LOL, exactly! Especially anything that looked like freestyling or rapping in street ciphers…Another song that stood out to me strongly was “Quan’s Traphouse.” You painted such a vivid picture I could literally see the people you were rapping about like something on TV.
Enjoy “Quan’s Traphouse.”
Keim: That was a true story.
Me: Oh I bet it was! What role did go-go play in your upbringing?
Keim: All my friends went to go-gos so it was something we did on Saturdays but I was always more a fan of rap.
Me: [Another stupid question on my part…] Do you remember any specific radio shows you tuned into to get the latest rap music? Then again, you probably didn’t have to do that! When I was a teenager you hardly heard rap music on the radio in D.C. I remember tuning into an AM station really late on Friday nights, I think WTOP to hear any rap but that station would play the latest underground music from New York so I made sure to tune in.
Keim: I didn’t have to tune in to any specific stations but my mom had Biggie’s “Ready to Die” album. I remember listening to that at 4.
Me: Wow, you remember that from age 4 so that’s how deeply embedded hip-hop was in your upbringing.
Keim: Yes and I also like Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre…
Me: Okay but I dubbed your E.P “D.C.’s instrumental hip hop album.” And instrumental hip-hop itself is very sophisticated. You don’t hear it often or even at all on mainstream commercial radio. Were you a U Street kid at some time?
[The clubs, spots and lounges along U Street have a dedicated 1990s history of premiering underground hip-hop artists in the DMV. Open microphone shows held along this strip were featured in the Washington City Paper and the “backpack” rappers gathered on corners of U Street in ciphers practicing their crafts for passersby. Some places that were famous for “backpack” kids (now closed down) were State of the Union, Kaffa House, Nyala and Bar Nun.]
Keim: No, I wasn’t a U Street kid but after being a fan of the culture, I started researching everything. One day J. Dilla popped up on You Tube and I started finding other producers with similar sounds like Pete Rock.
Me: Okay, yeah You Tube! Bringing it current now into 2012, before you went into the studio, did you already have all your songs that you wanted recorded written or was it gradual process?
Keim: Everything was written. [Keim laughed to himself with a breath of relief behind it.] It took like a year and 3 months to just get into the studio dealing with different producers. Their priorities weren’t in line.
Me: Tell me about that.
Keim: This past summer  I was supposed to do the E.P. at my man’s cousin’s house. He had an in-house studio. He would give me a day to come and record. The day would come and he wasn’t available. When it was time to reschedule, it was just a ridiculous back and forth that never amounted to anything.
Then I decided to get my $20 dollar microphone and a pop filter and I tried to record it with Magix Music Maker recording software in my basement.
Me: Oh God! So you did that?
Me: But that was not what I heard. What I heard was a very professional recording.
Keim: The benefit in the waiting was the perfecting. I’m really a perfectionist. I will do 50 takes for 1 verse.
Me: So you were doing that over the course of a year which led to perfection?
Me: But what about your beats and samples?
Keim: I was logged into Twitter and read about Kendric Lamar’s music making it to XXL’s freshman list. I listened to his mixtape, “Overly Dedicated”, and one specific song (I can’t remember it now) made me look up his producer, Tae Beats.
Me: You looked up Tae Beats on Twitter?
Keim: Yes. I told him I liked what I heard and he sent me a beat, a one minute snippet. I told him I liked it and he said, “Just stick with me. I’ll get you some stuff. I’m just busy right now.” He sent me the beats in October and the E.P. dropped November 9th. [Keim smiled broadly reveling in how fast his opportunity came after so many months of being passed over.]
Me: So wait a minute, you didn’t have to pay for beats?
Keim: No! He actually sent me beats from a beat tape he dropped the year before.
Me: That’s blessed, Keim! That’s love. In my opinion your album knocks. It’s just a matter of getting heard. Download the album here, “Young and Wreckless.”
Keim: I am affiliated with Power Circle Management. We keep having meetings to discuss what to do next. We are discussing doing street team work, doing more shows and trying to get the word out as much as possible.
Me: That segues into my next question. When you’re creating music most of the time you have to plan, decide how you want to sound, edit recordings, basically, plan perfection. The other side of being of a performance artist is the performing. Have you had a taste of the stage yet?
Keim: My first show was 2-3 weeks ago at the D.C. Soundstage.
Me: Oh yeah? I was supposed to go that night but it was raining terribly.
Keim: Yeah, I remember.
Me: So how was it for you being on stage?
Keim: It was fun. There were probably like 25-30 people in the audience.
Me: Do you have any footage from your performance?
Keim: No. My friend was going to record but couldn’t make it.
Me: Try not to let that happen again. You want footage of your stage presence.
Keim: Okay. I’m supposed to be doing a show with Fat Trel and Shy Glizzy at Liv on April 28th. I’m trying to get in there.
Me: So right now, current goals revolve around promotion, getting videos done, having taped live performances? [He nodded in agreement.] Tell me about the songs you’re working on for your next album.
Keim: I don’t want to reveal too much but my next E.P. is called “Life is Cheap”. I feel like it’s going to be 20 times better than my first one.
Me: That first album is going to be a hard one to beat but I believe you and can’t wait to hear it.
Keim: Yes but I feel confident in it between the skits, the narration. I’m going to the studio in 2 weeks to start working on it.
Me: Are you using some more of Tae Beats’ music?
Keim: I am trying to get him on the album. He has a beat album in the making right now but I will definitely hit him up.
Me: Where are most of your beats coming from now?
Keim: Right now, my producers are Mr. Carmack and J. Pounds from L.A.
Me: “Young and Wreckless” has 10 hits on it. Do you plan to put more music on the next project?
Keim: It will probably have like 12 or 13 songs on it. I don’t think I have to deliver the standard 16. My ability is just natural. When I first started rapping, it just came natural. I would write ten songs every single day. So I pick songs that match my album’s theme.
Me: You sure did. “Young and Wreckless” reads like a soap opera and gives you a glimpse into the lives of individual characters on the same mission to grow up. I liked how you included a girl’s story too, “Tasha’s Story”. A lot of rap albums leave out the girls like the streets are just full of dudes.
Enjoy Keim LeMarc’s The City Owns Her(Tasha’s Story) ft. Javonte & Alex Isley prod. Tae Beast
Keim: [He laughs.] Yeah
Me: I think you told me before that you did the Eddie Kayne show. How long ago was that?
Keim: Two Saturdays ago.
Me: Did anything specific at that show stand out for you?
Keim: It was my first time on radio and the fact that he is big in the city. It was a good look to know my music is being heard all over the world.
Me: Definitely. Eddie Kayne is doing a wonderful thing for indie artists. Oh, just a couple more questions about the next album! Are you going to stick with the neo-soul sound?
Keim: Yes but it’s on a new advanced level that has never even been heard before.
Me: Do you have any plans on working with any other artists on your second album?
Keim: Not really, I want to get my story out there. But if a song lines up right and the collaboration comes natural, I will reach out to an artist. I would like to get a collaboration eventually.
Me: Before we break, do you have any shout outs?
Keim: Tae Beats, Power Circle Management, Paul Diddy of Movie Hood TV, my man, Beast, who did the artwork for the album cover and my man, Pro, for doing the photo shoot for the album artwork
Me: Very well. It was great meeting with you this evening, Keim.
Keim: Thank you. It was nice meeting with you too.
Download the album here, “Young and Wreckless.”