To help viewers and concertgoers prepare for this weekend’s Rolling Loud music festival in Miami—which REVOLT TV will be livestreaming here—we've compiled the top three songs you must know from scheduled performer (Friday, May 5) and rising rapper Kembe X. Hear them below!
Despite some confusion last year that the rapper had signed to Top Dawg Entertainment—the news later denied by founder Anthony Tiffith ("He is a friend of the family")—Kembe X has been self-releasing albums since 2013 through The Village 777, a new-school artist collective mainly comprised of Chicago artists. No matter where he ends up calling home, his sound is signature, steeped in feel-good instrumentation and in-your-face lyricism.
"Give and Take" (feat. Chance the Rapper)
Over strings and soul that borrow from Al Green's "What a Wonderful Thing Love Is," Kembe X details the kind of everyday ambivalence we can all relate to, and with imagery that puts us right beside him: "Sometimes I lay flat and stare at the fuckin ceiling / Beg myself to trust religion / Though nothing's simple as sinnin' / When alone in my room, I transcribe my anti's / Tried battling my damn pride and lost by a landslide." He recruits fellow Chicagoan and the always affable Chance the Rapper to raise spirits as, ya know, he is prone to do.
"Die 4 It" (feat. Isaiah Rashad and Julian Malone)
Backed by the kind of chanteuse-style croon that would have made Old Kanye cry, the trio takes turns bragging about women, sneakers, cars, and vices (of the "golden diamond plated" variety). And if that seems #basic, that may be the point: "Evident that I'm pretty arrogant, but I'm elegant." Plus, the soul stylings aren't all 'Be and 'Ye have in common; an "All Falls Down" instance of wordplay returns on this track: "And all I ever wanted was Alexis / Topless preferably / Would gas her up like daily / And it's been awhile since she heard from me."
"As I Unfold" (feat. Ab-Soul)
As one of the two songs (the other being "Caged Bird") that nabbed spots on Billboard's Emerging Artists chart back in 2014 (officially putting X in view of the "mainstream" masses), "As I Unfold" returned this year when he placed it on the tracklist of his self-titled album, released in January. Despite it kicking off with a jovial Motown-esque beat, the track soon turns hard-hitting having enlisted members from both of X's families: The Village's Alex Wiley on the hook and TDE's Ab-Soul on the alternate verse. But try not to bounce at X's deep pocket delivery.
ALSO HEAR: "Oxygen"