So much has happened here in the southwest in music and arts. When it comes to meeting artists, we like to read if the artist is about it or not from the start.
When I met A’Keem a few years back, he seemed to be different. I hate for it to sound cliché, but when listening to his tracks you can’t help it. We’ve all been there before. We get introduced to a new artist and immediately want to compare them to someone else we’ve heard before or a combination of some. This happens often when we think about the artist’s influences and sound. Where do they get this from? When listening to A’Keem, one does not simply do that.
Let’s go back. There is a music and arts movement happening here in the southwest. It’s beautiful and continues to grow. I often think of music artists as superheroes, each with their own individual superpowers.
If you’re in the southwest, I welcome you to look for these superheroes that are working around the area. Find the one you like, keep your eye on them, and follow their journey. To those of you that don’t live in the southwest, I welcome you to visit. We have Jay-Z and Beyonce taking photos in our area!
We know the world is bad and there are problems going on 24/7, yet New Mexico remains a beautiful uncharted land. Each superhero has a turf they represent, but they’re all representing the southwest.
A’Keem represents Truth Or Consequences, NM, a town where he’s celebrated and enjoyed by the townspeople. It’s a town that had been asking him to perform for the longest time. This year, he gave them that and more. He performed popular tracks like NM, La Raza, and tracks from his latest album The Ones. If I had to describe the show in one word, it would be energy.
Marco: For the people that weren’t there, I remember at the end of the show, you had mentioned that you were performing everywhere else besides your hometown. You denied them a show for the longest time and you even turned down a basketball tournament the city wanted you to host last year. Fortunately for them, this year it seems like you gave them what they wanted, and it was a huge success. There was a point where the DJ accidentally played the beginning of your song “NM”, which is a single piano key, and the entire room went crazy. Everyone knew that was your song, one single piano key. Why?
A’Keem: I guess it’s because it’s been such a long time coming. There were a lot of people asking me why I hadn’t had a show in T or C and it’s because I wanted it to be epic. You’re a perfectionist as well. I’m going around performing and trying to become a better live performing artist, you know? Pick up notes, pick up everything I can to make sure my first show was a huge success. That’s what I meant. I wanted it to be epic, and in the end I was able to say “look.”
Marco: Yeah, there was a lot of people there. This happened at an art gallery and it was packed the whole time, there was no dead time. It was overall, a huge success.
A’Keem: Yeah, that’s a huge. That’s something I’m grateful for, you know. It makes me think about taking shots at yourself, you know? Put up your own money to get your own show, you promote it and then have everything be on your back, instead of going to wherever they tell you to go. We’re going to go where our contiguous are, or we’re going to go where our followers are, our fan base, our crowd base, and do our thing right there. Everyone had love for everybody because it was a great environment. Everyone had love for Ellen, for Ziggy, for Cody and of course, myself. There was no other name, no other headliner. Those people came to support us, so I have a lot of gratitude for that. The same way I show love to my city, is the same way they show love back to me.
Marco: Now, about this album. “The Ones.”
A’Keem: Haha yeah, this is good.
Marco: “The Ones.” What can you tell us about it?
A’Keem: If you know me, if you follow my music, I got “The Pretext,” I got “The Vortex,” and this is “The Ones.” This is basically the third pillar in the trinity. This is the conclusion pillar in the trinity and then we’re onto new things. With this, it’s just opening my eyes to “Look bro, look what you have popping for you.” Just like you said, there were people screaming my lyrics whenever they accidentally played the start of NM. It opens my eyes to my supporters. I’ve done shows where I’m basically performing for myself with no one there. I’ve done shows where they weren’t there to see me. So to go from that to this, like bro, all these cats are taking their time out of their day to come see me. It’s basically a gratitude-based album. I wanted to make songs that could resonate. Say, “Thank you for sticking with me through this whole time.” For the people who lift me up. Something I know they’ll love.
wanted to make songs that could resonate. Say, “Thank you for sticking with me through this whole time.”
Marco: In those first two albums you put out, “The Vortex” and “The Pretext,” you hear it in your tracks. You give a lot of shoutouts to your friends and family. It’s true you were making music for yourself but at the same time, you were making music for those around you. Starting with the closest to you, your family. Then your friends and their friends and so on. Next thing you know, we’re having this huge event and they’re all there for you.
A’Keem: What pushed me to start making this type of music like you talked about was my family, my friends. Everyone knows about the keepsake. Bro, when I made that, I was a younger kind. I had bars, but I was trying to not talk about everything. I didn’t want to talk about the hardships. If you live your truth, can’t nobody tell you shit. Can’t nobody come up to you and be like “Aye you ain’t telling the truth in your rap.” I’m like, “Bitch, fact check my shit.”
Since the pretext, go fact check anything I ever said, because I’m living my truth. That’s why they love it. My friends at work love to hear my shit. They’re like, “Ayee he’s telling the truth right here! This actually happened!” (laughs)
They’re blessing it on God bro. You’ve seen it before. You came to the park with Ziggy and we hear La Raza bumping in a car passing by. We were on the phone remember? I was like “Hey is that you playing La Raza?” (laughs)
Marco: I knew that people were loving your music in T or C. We knew you had a fanbase out there but I didn’t know you reaaaaaaally had a fanbase. In a way, you already blew up in your town. Seriously, from gas station clerks to restaurant owners. They all support you and this past Cinco de Mayo event you had showed it. (laughs.)
A’Keem: Yeah, the things that get me the most happy is when people surprise me at shows. That’s one of my favorite things, especially people I don’t know. I also love when people post my music on their stories without tagging me. And of course when the little kids know my lyrics, I love that! (laughs.)
"We’re the ones.
The chosen in this time. Every morning you get up, you have a purpose."
Marco: Now, there’s this song I want to talk about. I’ve been lucky enough to have listened to your project as you were building it. My favorite line is “I am the one like Neo.” Right? Tell me about that because I feel like that line has a lot of power and it essentially stands for the entire album. You mention “The Ones” in this album a lot. “You’ve heard of The Ones, I’m the worst One.” (laughs.)
A’Keem: Yeah, yeah. I feel like it’s a stake in claim bro. A stake in claim to YOUR lane, you know? That’s my lane. Can’t nobody claim my lane, because it’s mine. Everyone has their own lane, and that’s important. You need to know yourself. That’s even on The Matrix. Whenever Neo kisses Trinity, and he is one with his body, soul and mind. Only then, he’s able to stop the bullets. Only then, he realizes he’s the one. He’s one with himself.
I’m staking claim to my lane. Putting the flag in the ground. We’re here. We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep coming, keep doing this. Keep making good music, showing love to the people who show love to us.
We’re the ones bro, that’s us. That’s the set. Everything we got going on. If you follow your inclinations to the ultimate ends, you are. one of us. Period. If you don’t, you’re not going to be a happy person because you have a spirit. You have a calling that you’re ignoring every single morning you wake up and go do something irrelevant. Just like I say in Palo Alto,
“I follow my inclinations to the ultimate ends
Where does it go
I never know I just follow my soul.”
That’s what I’m talking about. We’re the ones. The chosen in this time. Every morning you get up, you have a purpose.
The Ones - Out Now
Writer Marco Olvera | Editor Katie Bieri | Photography Palamora