'Kechi holding a keyboard
Credit: courtesy of the artist

Chicago producer, rapper, and singer Ikechi Chijiuba Ihemeson, aka ’Kechi, performs as though his entire life has led up to the moment he steps to the mike. He started recording his new full-length, ’Kechi Tunez (Ojuba Music), in 2020, though he traces the album’s roots back to a year he spent in Africa a decade ago. ’Kechi was 14 when his mom sent him and his sisters to live in the Nigerian state of Imo; he spent his freshman year at a boarding school there and started writing in journals, a practice he credits with transforming his passion for music into a calling. ’Kechi reached for those journals while he began working on ’Kechi Tunez. ’Kechi blends hip-hop, R&B, and soul into a smooth, inviting sound, plush with gentle keys, smoky saxophones, and light, nimble percussion. He positions himself as an artist in a state of reflection, which comes through especially strongly in the interludes—on “Meditate,” he talks about the Igbo roots of his name and the years he spent growing up in Chicago’s suburbs, before and after his time in Imo. His gentle, understated singing and rapping make him sound like he’s considered every inflection carefully, and his pitter-patter flow atop the knotty bass of “Distant Memories” will have you paying close attention to his every word as well.

’Kechi’s ’Kechi Tunez is available through Bandcamp.