Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar are smoking on your top five with their new single, “Family Ties.” The cousin duo sent fans into a frenzy on Friday, dropping the power-packed collaboration, along with an absorbing music video.
Keem opens the track, rapping over a resounding beat charged with drums, horns, and flute inflections. He asserts himself as one of the best in the rap game while giving thanks to Lamar. “I’m grateful to Man-Man, he opened up doors,” he says, referring to Lamar. “And bung’ on the tour bus to come and compose / I reach to the stars on my tippy toes / This greatest success where most n*gg*s fold / I tell you my past, that shit don’t get old.”
Lamar enters the track with a gritty beat switch and a coolheaded flow before picking things up with pointed confidence and veering cadences. “I am the omega, pgLang, Rollie gang, SIE / Don’t you address me unless it’s with four letters,” he says, shouting out his enigmatic creative agency, pgLang, which he confounded with Keem and longtime collaborator Dave Free. He also addresses his absence from the spotlight, saying, “I been duckin’ the pandemic / I been duckin’ the social gimmicks / I been duckin’ the overnight activists, yeah / I’m not a trending topic, I’m a prophet / I answer to Metatron and Gabriel.”
The “Family Ties” music video, directed by Free, is just as dynamic as it features several visuals layered on top of one another while Keem delivers his verse. Lamar makes his entrance by way of a flickering screen before he’s shown masked up and dancing. In another scene, Normani makes a brief cameo while taking a joy ride with Keem and Lamar.
“Family Ties” is Lamar’s first release of 2021, following his team-up with Busta Rhymes on last year’s “Look Over Your Shoulder.” On Aug. 20, Lamar revealed that he’s working on his final album with Top Dawg Entertainment in a letter posted on the mysterious oklama.com. “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators,” he wrote. “As I continue to pursue my life’s calling. There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.” While it’s unclear what Lamar’s departure from TDE means for his music career, many believe that the California rapper will begin working under his pgLang banner.
Meanwhile, Keem is gearing up for the release of his album, The Melodic Blue — the follow-up to 2019’s Die for My Bitch — which will feature “Family Ties.” Additional details about the forthcoming LP have not yet been announced.