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Lil Keed: The Essentials

Lil Keed was a painter. An artist unafraid to use his voice as a brush in long strokes, stretching and sliding his high frequencies. That voice offered to Atlanta a unique sound that was born from the city’s influence. He used the essence and guidance that Young Thug provided ever since first taking him under his wing, and was blossoming into his own identity from YSL. Those melodic screeches and that trap vibrato bleeds with style and flex that can be shifted to convey vulnerable energy. Lil Keed manages to strike that special chord of trap you can somehow bump yet cry along to as well.

Another rising star approaching their supernova too early, a tragedy we have seen far too often. To celebrate the art and share this sound with those unfamiliar, here is Lil Keed doing what he do; ten songs that best showcase what made him a talent, and what the young artist had more to give.

10. Heavy Metal - Lil Uzi Vert feat. Lil Keed & Lil Gotit (2018)

Beginning the festivities is a song that was in fact my first encounter with Keed. It also may have been for others, with him and his kin Lil Gotit sharing the stage with Lil Uzi Vert, who ultimately shines the brightest on the track. From here is a point of growth. I remember first being caught off guard by the two brothers when they exploded onto the verse, being unable to tell them apart and feeling their style as an acquired taste. Lil Keed drops into the song with velocity and bounces nicely off the unorthodox beat. He stretches his vocals to their extent, giving a sense of punk-like rawness from the throat. If you catch that coughing adlib in the background you can understand why.

9. Wop - (2018)

Another showing of that punk-like rawness as stated above, however delivered a bit more refined. He turns the notch up on his punchy hook, but he shows his vocal depth as he paces himself nicely throughout the song. You feel he subtly builds up to that crescendo that you find yourself suddenly banging your head to.

8. Accomplishments - Zaytoven, Lil Yachty & Lil Keed- A-Team (2020)

Originally dropping as a single in the winter of 2019, this Zaytoven composed piece was later a part of the impressive collaborative album of the iconic Atlanta producer and the three Lil’s:

Yachty, Keed, and Gotit. Lil Keed slides up and down over the track, hypnotizing you with how unpredictable he is in his melodies. Lil Yachty sets the pace from the jump with his quick rhythm that creates this sense of bounce. But it is Keed who takes the ball off the dribble and goes for the finish.

7. Snake - Long Live Mexico (2019)

This wavy joint is driven by an absolute powerhouse of an instrumental from producers CuBeatz and Pyrex. Lil Keed shows that less is more in some cases as his slim lyrical choice lets both him and the beat breathe with each other. Those surf rock-inspired notes at the song’s forefront create an unexpected sauciness and dare I say, twang. In the music video, that essence is very fittingly expressed in a sick spaghetti western homage.

6. Tighten Up - Trapped On Cleveland 3 (2020)

Despite the numbering, Trapped On Cleveland 3 was actually Lil Keed’s sophomore studio album. Featuring songs such as the radio hit Fox Five with Gunna and a collab with Young Thug on Kiss Em Peace, Tighten Up stands out coming into the record with its menacing energy. I also just have to voice a personal conspiracy with the lyrics stated on Genius, referring to the hook with “Niggas follow me I had to clutch it”. Lil Keed has made references to driving manual supercars in the past and using a clutch pedal, and so I believe “Niggas follow me I hit the clutch” sounds way more likely to be the intended line. You decide.

Tyler, the Creator, Lil Uzi Vert, Nas, GZA; you can always trust a rapper who drives a stick.

5. Child - feat. Moneybagg Yo - Long Live Mexico (2019)

Here is another entry on this list from the loaded debut album Long Live Mexico. Lil Keed carries a frenetic pace and raps a unique flex in his clever line in the hook. Here on this song shows his established sound, singing his high ends vocals and wrapping that voice around the final syllables of his bars.

4. Blocklife - Trapped On Cleveland (2018)

With no official trace on Spotify, Soundcloud, or even Audiomack and Datpiff, it took me some searching to find the first installment of the Trapped On Cleveland trilogy to mine for some gems. There was in fact one hidden in this early project to add to the head bangers. At first it can be hard to recognize him with the tone he employs. But all throughout there is this certain, bounce, that echoes of Keed’s energy.

3. Undefeated - Future feat. Lil Keed (2019)

Future and Lil Keed team up on this single with one simple purpose, to fuck shit up. They go to work over 808 slides that will rip through your chest, extending for long vibrations and then zipping up with such speed. In the closing verse Future does his best impression of a pigeon with his cooing rhyming pattern. Lil Keed erupts at the bridge of the song, letting out melodic howls of John Wick bars. In the words of Future, sensational.

2. Pull Up - feat. Lil Uzi Vert & YNW Melly - Long Live Mexico (2019)

Pull Up has all the makings of a summer classic. An all-star lineup, found in Keed, Murder Melly, and Uzi. A lush sounding atmosphere, heard through the use of tropical flutes. And that potent, yet ineffable feeling of the warm memories of a summer’s past. That feeling is unique to everyone. So if none come to mind, let this song be a moment, dear reader, to create more summer memories.

1. Brotherly Love - Lil Gotit feat. Lil Keed - The Real Goat (2019)

The name says it all. This collaboration between blood is in its own way bitter-sweet to revisit, communicating the shared struggle and the love the two have. It's brotherly love at its purest, along with the love they have for the game. Sonically the piece curates this vague yet poignant sense of sadness, driven by beautiful piano chords and the grace of flutes breezing by. And with those sounds he hits that sweet spot that he manages to do so well, balancing that emotion with tales of luxury and confidence.

It's Lil Keed at his best. And with his brother by his side, it's a beautiful banger that captures love.



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