Aspiring rapper finds Eagle River inspiration

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 15:46
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann Akeem Anderson and Craig Maines in Eagle River June 9, 2017.

At 25, Akeem Anderson is ready to make it big.

His music videos rack up tens of thousands of views on Youtube. His songs are played across the country, he said. His music is featured by rap blogs around the Lower 48. That’s all part of his plan.

“I’m trying to be established in the music industry – majorly, independent-wise, big-wise – before I’m 30,” he said. “So I want every single song I make to be perfect.”

Anderson, who raps under the stage name Keem, is one of Eagle River’s most popular young performers.

But the Youtube views are just one part of his story: There was also a chapter at a U.S. Army base in South Carolina, a chapter at a homeless shelter in Anchorage and chapters of travel in between, he said. He bounced between states and jobs.

He first came to Alaska at age 10, he said. Fifteen years later, he said he found friendship, new motivation and a fresh start in Eagle River.

“It just gives me a whole different perspective,” Anderson said during a recent interview. “I don’t regret any situation that has happened in my life, period, because it’s made me the person I am today.”

As he told his story, his friend sat next to him, recording the interview to post to his Snapchat account. Craig Maines said he met Anderson a few months ago on a sidewalk in downtown Eagle River. They began to chat and exchanged numbers, Maines said, then one night, Anderson gave him a call.

“He was crying, said he needed help,” Maines said. “I talked to my brother, Kyle, and we told him he was safe and he could come stay with us. From there, we became really good friends.”

After Maines took him in earlier this year, he and his brother are like family now, Anderson said. They said they hope to make music together some day soon.

“You can’t do everything by yourself,” Anderson said. “You need a support system – I feel like I finally have a support system.”

For now, he said, he’s focused on his next music video, then an upcoming trip back to Connecticut. He works at a restaurant in Eagle River up to six days a week, he said, and spends time biking around town for exercise. He records parts of his daily routine on Snapchat, and uses social media to network and connect with fans, he said.

When he makes music, he said, he works with Shoe String Studios in Anchorage.

His influences cross the spectrum, from Michael Jackson to J. Cole, he said. His raps revolve around parties, dancing, relaxing, drinking and smoking. He wants people to enjoy themselves, he said.

“Because music nowadays is just a bunch of violence and drugs, and that’s not cool,” Anderson said. “I’d rather talk about partying and having a good time and dancing rather than talking about guns and violence.”

His writing process is simple, he said: Don’t think, just feel. Then make sure the beat is just right; the similes and metaphors are on point. Every song has to be perfect, he said. Eventually, he said, he’d like to evolve his musical style – to write conscientious raps about social and political issues.

“I need to get there on that big stage,” he said. “And then I want to start doing the positive.”

Fame is just the first step, he said. Anderson has a young daughter in Colorado and family scattered across the United States, he said. When he thinks about making it big, he thinks of them.

“I’m not trying to make it just for the money, the cars and the clothes,” Anderson said. “I want to make it so my mom won’t drive buses anymore; I want to make it so when my daughter gets older she can follow her dreams.”

Contact reporter Kirsten Swann at [email protected]

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