Inglewood Rapper Skeme Attempts to Bring His City to the World
Photo by Geezy Skeme
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Skeme is so Inglewood that he still loathes the Lakers for ditching the Forum. His hometown dedication is so absolute that it's incorporated into his next album's title: Ingleworld. The portmanteau reflects an expanded scope for the 23-year-old rapper, whose pistols-and-palm trees sagas have accrued fierce allegiance in the city that Tupac said was "always up to no good."
Industry vultures and Skeme's peers also have noticed. If you examine his collaboration list, it includes every popular, hood-certified L.A. rapper of the last half-decade: Nipsey Hussle, Dom Kennedy, The Game, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar.
Earlier this year, the latter's label, Top Dawg Entertainment, discussed signing Skeme. Def Jam, Universal and Roc Nation also are hovering.
"I'm in no rush to sign," Skeme says, sultanically dragging on a Djarum clove cigarette, wearing camo pants, a black IMKING barcode T-shirt and black beanie. Tattoos cover his arms. He looks like a remorseful set leader in a contemporary hood movie. "I've been making plenty of money."
Skeme wasn't a self-coined nickname. Lonnie Kimble acquired it at 13, when a friend noticed his craftiness at acquiring cash. Most of his early plots could lock you up for five to nine, he says, but they allowed him to buy a BMW 525I while still a senior at Gardena's Junipero Serra High.
His recent windfall has arrived through legal means. Over the last year, he's become a sought-after songwriter, ghostwriting for a clientele he can't divulge. Industry rumors peg him as the pen for Iggy Azalea, who has appeared on several of his tracks.
Since the release of last month's DJ Skee-presented mixtape, Bare With Me, Skeme's passport includes stamps from London and Sweden. There also have been trips to New York and Seattle.
Scheduling conflicts precluded him, he says, from a return jaunt to London to write with Timbaland, Steve Aoki and Max Martin, the Scandinavian pop Merlin. Wale recently asked him to join J. Cole's What Dreams May Come tour.
"I never knew it would become huge. I knew just I could make good music that people identified with," Skeme says on the patio of his manager's Studio City townhouse.