Looking more fit for the gridiron than the green room, imagining Atlanta rapper Kelechi inside a recording booth is a funny thought. Luckily for listeners, the 24-year-old isn’t claustrophobic. Fresh off an appearance on Sway in the Morning, Kelechi is gearing up for a new project entitled Before The Quarter backed by Green Label Sound. Having had the opportunity to hear a fair share of what’s to come, I felt it was the perfect time to feature Kelechi in our Respect The Neighbors series.
Kelechi first introduced himself to us back in 2010, back when he went under the stage name SUBMiT. In fact, he was the first ever artist to submit music to me - a story we discussed in episode one of the See Beyond Genre podcast during his stay in Chicago this past summer. And while he might not own up to the releases in retrospect, his potential was undeniable even then. Over the years, he has earned our maintained attention with consistent progression thanks to a relentless work ethic. During that time, we saw Kelechi work through struggles common to many of the young artists we were surrounded by: growing past influences and discovering a sound of their own, trying to get music into the hands and ears of higher ups in the industry, and attempting to balance music with college. As well as ones that weren’t: often being overlooked in his hometime due to not fitting into his city’s built-in sound and having to get his parents (who moved from Nigeria to assure their kids had the best education possible) to come to terms with the fact he would be leaving school to pursue music.
Along the way, Kelechi caught some breaks, as those who most deserve it tend to. In 2011 he won a remix contest put on by HYPETRAK that first got him past the digital gatekeepers and onto the pages of the music blogs that mattered most. However, it was another contest that has brought Kelechi’s career to its current state. Late last year, he entered a contest put on by Mountain Dew music imprint Green Label Sound with a grand prize that would include a slot in their SXSW showcase, advice from industry experts and artists, a music video, and, most importantly, a $50,000 grant to put out an album. At the top of this year, Kelechi beat out the competition and was crowned the winner.
This past week, the first single from the upcoming album was released, an excited effort dubbed “Reachin’” featuring Trinidad James. Due out in January, Before The Quarter could potentially be one of two albums from the Atlanta artist in 2016. The second is entitled Quarter Life Crisis, a concept album Kelechi has been crafting over the last year. Now that you know the story of the talented Kelechi, get familiar with the music with a few of our favorite cuts in the playlist above.