*2019 was a great time to be a teenager, simply due to the fact we could meet with our friends. We searched for mischief to our heart’s content, oblivious of the impending virus, which would change our lives.
During this simpler time, one TV show depicted the lives of adolescents in an American suburb. Euphoria, loosely based on the Israeli drama of the same name, follows the stories of a group of teenagers forming their identities.
Starring Zendaya (so good she only needs one name), it was praised for its use of colour, its soundtrack and ability to invoke sympathy for all of the characters. The flashbacks scattered throughout the series gave context to drug abuse, sex work and college pressures. Although the subject matter felt overwhelming at times, certain scenes were necessary to bring to light the traumas some teenagers experience.
After bingeing on eight intense episodes, I felt like Rue (Zendaya), searching for my next high: more episodes. While the two bridge episodes satisfied my withdrawals briefly, for the last year I have largely been forced to go cold turkey.
Due to COVID 19, director Sam Levinson and the rest of the Euphoria team’s plans were compromised. Production will now have to wait until 2021 but already news about the characters has emerged. All of season 1’s cast will return and they will be joined by at least four new characters.
Baby Keem is a 20-year-old rapper based in Los Angeles. He is best known for his 2019 single, Orange Soda. The song, along with his album DIE FOR MY BITCH propelled him to stardom, with the help of some industry connections.
It’s an open secret that he’s Compton rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s cousin, explaining his credits on the Lamar curated Black Panther soundtrack, his appearance in Dave Free and Kendrick Lamar’s video for creative company pgLang and a co-sign from executive producer of Euphoria, Drake.
Aside from having friends in high places who could grant him a role in the show, or at least on the soundtrack, Euphoria and Baby Keem operate within the same universe. Despite being fantastic in nature, Euphoria is based on the realities of young people. These realities are especially close to Keem, given that a great deal of Euphoria was filmed in Los Angeles.
It also seems as if he is inspired by the show. His music video for hooligan shares some of the same locations as Euphoria. We see Keem stroll through the garages Rue ran through in Euphoria. It’s as if Keem arrived at the scene a few hours later, maneuvering through the darkness of Ladera Heights on his way to meet different women.
Similar to Euphoria, the music is ominous and deserving of the night time setting captured in the video. It sounds like an alternative version of Roddy Ricch’s Tip Toe. The repetitive piano loop is hypnotising and is complemented by the trap 808s, Baby Keem’s child-like voice and a whistle, all gradually combined into the song. It would be perfect for the scene where Fez (Angus Cloud) crept through the shadows en route to robbing Mouse’s (Meeko Gattuso) client.
Beyond this exciting song and music video, it seems as if Keem has made more references to the show. On Invented it he raps: ‘Yes, I made a sex tape, but that ain’t no secret’ – perhaps a reference to Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and the revenge porn she was a victim of. On the same song, he raps: ‘Before I leave the house, I tell my bitch I love her / But that’s not till I pop a pill, now it’s fuck her’ – perhaps a reference to Rue’s vow to stop using while she was friends with Jules and the addictive relationship she forms with her instead.
Of course, I’m joking. These are either throwaway lines or proof of how on the mark Euphoria is in capturing the mood of this generation. Kendrick Lamar described Keem as ‘the voice for a lot of young people’. Regardless of his cousin’s possible bias, the same statement could be applied to Euphoria.
However, Keem and Euphoria represent the rage, excitement and misbehaviour, which exists in many young people’s heads. Sex plays a large role in Euphoria but according to Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of high school juniors who have had sex has fallen to 42% from 62% in 1991. Similarly, judging from Keem’s lyrics, you would expect him to be a hooligan but he has opted for a more reserved approach than many of his rap peers.
A role in season 2 of Euphoria could be the perfect opportunity to learn more about him.
*This post was written at the beginning of 2021. Prior to The Melodic Blue or any Euphoria announcements.