[quote]There is perhaps no greater story in modern soul music of the power of redemption and faith than that of Kem. Through his tribulations and ultimate success, he has become an inspiration to many and a role model to a generation of young, independent artists.
Born in Nashville and raised in a middle-class Detroit suburb, Kem's life took an unfortunate turn after high school. Instead of advancing toward his dreams of musical success, he succumbed to a difficult combination of self-doubt, homelessness and addiction that lasted for nearly a half decade. He ultimately found rehabilitation through faith and music, and began again a long trek toward a goal of establishing a successful career as a singer -- and helping resurrect Soul Music on urban radio in the process.
During the 90s, Kem became a local fixture around Detroit, singing his jazz-infused music just about anywhere that would have him. He originally decided to record a live album of a number of songs he had written and played for audiences for some time, but instead in 2002 moved into the studio to create his debut album, Kemistry. Starting with a goal of selling 10,000 copies -- a lofty goal for an independent artist -- Kem tirelessly promoted the album at concerts, Mom and Pop record stores and even beauty salons. He reached his goal within a half year of the CD's release and also hit the radar of former Detroit label Motown, which signed him to a multi-album contract and released Kemistry to an international audience.
Unlike many independent artists who view the signing by a major label as entry into the promised land -- only to be disappointed by internal company politics and stretched promotional resources -- Kem kept control of his career and, with his own promotional team, continued to promote Kemistry as if it were still an independent album, creatively introducing the album in new ways and in unique places where a major label simply wouldn't go. And while many urban artists over the past 40 years have searched for success through compromise in their music, Kem's approach was notable in large part because he approached the process of success not through pandering and dumbing down his art but rather through finding creative ways to introduce music -- his music -- to audiences that would appreciate it.
His strategy worked. With a mellow groove that straddled the line between classic soul and jazz, all fronted by Kem's interesting phrasing and Al Jarreau-like voice, Kemistry gained momentum throughout 2003 and found a home with adult audiences longing for a respite from hip-hop infested radio and often unimaginative smooth jazz. The disc amazingly went Gold and the first single, "Love Calls," became a staple on Urban Adult Contemporary and Smooth Jazz stations for over a year.
In May, 2005, Kem released his much anticipated follow-up, Album II, which, like's its predecessor, will undoubtedly become a fixture on quiet storm radio. Arranged mostly with electric piano and a drumbeat and fronted by Kem's smooth, sometimes whispery voice, Album II immediately fits like a comfortable old sweater. Kem's brand of jazz-infused, romantic nighttime music continues to be unlike anything else out right now, and listening to Album II is a welcome return. The disc rarely strays from its mellow nighttime beat, picking it up on "True Love" and the Al Jarreau-like "Into You," but spending the most time on tasteful downbeat numbers like the excellent "Find Your Way (Back In My Life)," "I'm In Love" and the album's first single, "I Can't Stop Loving You." The disc also shows Kem continuing to develop as a lyricist, earnestly weaving his way through themes of romantic love and faith. And while nothing on the disc is as radio-friendly as his hit "Love Calls," Kem's Album II is another fine mood piece that will no doubt appeal to Kem's new legion of fans -- especially women -- and will cement his place as one of the most unique, appealing soulful singers today.
 - Kem - Kemistry
Like a male Sade, or vintage Steely Dan without the irony, smooth R&B vocalist Kem weaves mellow, late-night musical tapestries over '70s-style jazz grooves. In the process, he manages to sound completely contemporary without so much as a single hip-hop beat or squiggly synth line. Kem's voice is an instrument of subtle grace and power, his vocal timbre and clipped phrasing owing an immediately obvious debt to Sam Cooke, but, interestingly, also occasionally recalling Dave Matthews. Best of all, however, is the Motown vocalist's sense of restraint. The maturity of his delivery belies his youth and puts many established vocalists to shame. Combining the best elements of Luther Vandross, Lou Rawls, and Seal, Kem delivers a slab of jazz-inflected rhythm & blues that proves it's still possible to serve up a maximum amount of soul with a minimum of fuss.
Kem - 01 - Matter of Time.ape
Kem - 02 - Miss You.ape
Kem - 03 - Say.ape
Kem - 04 - Inside.ape
Kem - 05 - I'm Missin' Your Love.ape
Kem - 06 - Love Calls.ape
Kem - 07 - Brotha Man.ape
Kem - 08 - Cherish This Moment.ape
Kem - 09 - This Place.ape
Kem - 10 - You Are.ape
 - Kem - Album II
Kem plays his soul-and-jazz-juiced R&B like a man who has lived through more than most of us, and indeed he has: As fans who have followed the back story since his 2003 debut, Kemistry, know, he's an artist who was once reduced to sleeping on Detroit park benches while battling addiction. With the release of Album II, though, the sad stories need circulate no longer—all that's required to get swept up, off, and away by these tracks is a taste for solid R&B minus the hip-hop sideshow. Coaxing vocal cords more pliable than the face of Jim Carey into unexpected directions, the Chaka Khan sound-alike—who also occasionally ventures into George Benson territory—showers tenderness over each of these songs, sauntering into some notes with suave sophistication and sneaking up on others. Though "I Can't Stop Lovin' You" is the song throwing sparks amongst the quiet storm crowd, check his stretchy tenor on "Into You" and "I'm in Love," both so deeply felt they'll send the lovelorn swooning. --Tammy La Gorce
Kem - 1-Find Your Way (Back In My Life)-Album II.ape
Kem - 10-You Might Win-Album II.ape
Kem - 11-I Get Lifted-Album II.ape
Kem - 2-Heaven-Album II.ape
Kem - 3-Into You-Album II.ape
Kem - 4-I Can't Stop Loving You-Album II.ape
Kem - 5-Without You-Album II.ape
Kem - 6-Set You Free-Album II.ape
Kem - 7-I'm In Love-Album II.ape
Kem - 8-True Love-Album II.ape
Kem - 9-Each Other-Album II.ape