Baby Keem Credit: Bryan Blue

Las Vegas rapper-producer Hykeem Carter, aka Baby Keem, got his foot in the music industry’s door thanks to hip-hop powerhouse Top Dawg Entertainment, where he’s pitched in on writing and producing three of the label’s big recent releases: Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, Jay Rock’s Redemption, and Schoolboy Q’s Crash Talk. Now living in Los Angeles, the 18-year-old is still malleable as a musician, and it shows on his latest self-released full-length, the stylistically scatterbrained Die for My Bitch. Throughout the mixtape, he juggles dazed boom-bap, subterranean trap, pop-punk balladry, and whatever style you’d call the minimal, glistening “Orange Soda.” As he told Complex this summer, the record’s anything-goes feel was an intentional aesthetic decision. “To find the space to create a cohesive album, it’s not fun to me right now doing that,” he said. “I want to keep making music that I like and then when we get into the next project or the next project after that, we can access an album.” Though the components don’t always gel, Keem occasionally lands on an idea so great that it’ll carry you through his most half-baked songs. The blunt, serrated lines, busted 808 drums, and thin rim of hi-hat on “Top Ramen” make Keem sound like he could grow to rival Playboi Carti as a hip-hop stylist.   v