Barely out of his teens, Kayem2x has already supported Unknown T at the tail end of last year. With a lyrical flow that’s as fast as his heady rise, Kayem2x is among a new generation of rappers making their mark.
Here, he discusses that infamous performance that boosted his clout, the success of his track ‘Steady (Birkin Bop)’ and his ever-growing ambitions.
When did you first start rapping?
It was 2017 when I made my first song and went to the studio – but it was the worst thing ever. Then I stopped making music until 2019, when I started doing it properly.
What was the song?
Even if I remembered the name, I don’t think I’d tell you. It’s dreadful. No one’s ever gonna hear it.
And yet you persisted – you knew this was what you wanted to do…
Yeah, I don’t know what it was. Something was telling me to just keep trying. Every song I dropped was always getting better; everyone kept saying “this one’s better than the last.” To me, it was always getting better, but was never good; just because it’s better than the last doesn’t mean it’s good.
When ‘Steady [(Birkin Bop)’] came out, I thought “this is actually a good song.” So the next song after ‘Steady’ is hopefully going to be a great song.
Obviously, a pretty major thing that happened was your performance with Unknown T. How did that come about?
The funniest thing is, I was angry. Me and RSL were both in Birmingham, at one of our friends. I woke up in the morning and Kilo Keemzo, one of Unknown T’s people, messaged me and said, “Do you want to perform on Unknown T’s set tomorrow?” I said, “What kind of question is that? Of course.”
So I went to RSL and say, “Bro, guess what…?” He says, “Yeah, bro, I know. I was on the phone to him.” Unknown T messaged both of us on Tik Tok; but whilst I was asleep, RSL woke up first and replied to it. I was devastated.
Obviously it was a bittersweet moment because I went on to perform with him but I thought, “Why didn’t I get the phone call?” But it was lit. We went there, and it was crazy. It’s just been a good relationship from there. The thing is, he’s exactly how you thought he would be – that’s how it was even more weird for us.
Were you nervous for the performance?
Yes. Behind the stage I say to RSL, “Bro, are you cool?” And he’s asking me the same. I’m just as scared as him, but he’s worse than me, so I’m saying, “it’s cool, we got this bro.” So he turns around to face the crowd, but behind, in my head, I’m scared. But we get onstage, and we just did what you have to do.
I watch that performance back and it was the worst we’ve ever done – I promise you. If you see our stage presence, the way we were moving was dead. Compare that to when we played Sunderland; we’ve done Manchester, we’ve done Wolves, we’ve done Sheffield. All of those were way better than our performance [for Unknown T], because we were more nervous. Now, we react with the crowd, we throw stuff in the crowd.
What’s been your favourite gig then?
My personal favourite was Wolves, which actually might be one of the smallest we’ve done – it was like 800 people. Usually, we have a set of songs and some will know one song but, in reality, not the other ones. When we played Wolves, the energy was the same for all of them. People were trying to get on the stage, trying to grab us, passing us their phones. It was crazy.
So you felt like your actual fanbase were there…
Yeah, they came to our hotel too. They found our hotel, went to the guy who owns the hotel and made him knock on our door. We thought we were in trouble. Then we looked to the right and we just saw bare guys with masks on and hoods. RSL walks back in the room and he’s like, “Kayem, they want a picture.” It was like 3am, 2am, a dumb time. Just seeing us was enough for them – that’s crazy to me.
@kayem2xThe Humblest Rockstars🎸
And you grew up in Upper Edmonton. What was that like?
We call it ‘the slums’ – it’s not as bad as it sounds, though. I didn’t even know RSL until recently, so it was weird to find out he lived here too. We’ve crossed paths and seen each other but we’d never actually sat down and been friends until we met in college. The area’s good if you’re from here, but I don’t think you’d want to move here. If you grew up here, you’d understand it; but if you’re from out, I don’t think you will.
I read an interview you gave before, where you said, ‘my phone is my office’. Social media has obviously brought you success but how do you deal with the stresses of being on the platforms too?
I always say if I lock my phone, you don’t exist. That’s how I see it. So there’s not much stress for me. If you’re annoying me, you’re out of the picture. And that’s it, you’re not in my world. This is my world. These people are not real to me. I can’t see their faces.
You’ve had over 3.8 million streams for ‘Steady’ What’s that success been like for you?
It’s been a big turning point in my life. There’s been big milestones for me; getting a million views, then 3 million streams, all these things. It’s even little things like 100k followers on TikTok and getting verified on Instagram. I can’t lie, I never thought I’d be verified on Instagram this quick. I thought it’d take a year, maybe two. I didn’t know how these things work. So when it happened I thought I’m actually with the people who I was looking at before. It’s wild, I can’t lie.
And how have your mates dealt with your success?
My actual mates have been absolutely fine. But then there’s the guys I thought were my mates. Sometimes they still act like they are, but you can see right through it because sometimes they don’t even hide it. They make it easy for us to filter it out because they’re not even trying to hide it. Me and RSL spoke about this as well – as long as us two are cool, it’s cool.
You’re part of a new cohort of rappers – Kavo, A1 x J1. Do you feel part of something special?
There’s a picture where we’re performing at A1 x J1’s show – shoutout to them again for that. It’s a picture of me, RSL, A1 and J1, Booga. We’ve thought in a couple of years this picture is gonna be worth a lot of money because it’s the new generation. It’s funny you ask that because we always say it.
And what releases can we expect from you?
There’re so many songs. We can’t drop them because it’s not popping right now, or the certain trend is this or that. We’ve got bangers – we’re literally sitting on absolute bangers.