Philadelphia-bred songwriter, MC, poet and prolific musician, Khemist is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed artist and bonafide lyrical force to be reckoned with. Hailing from Philly’s Logan Valley, Khemist’s eclectic body of work reflects his bittersweet upbringing amidst the blighted streets of the hardscrabble city, yet defies falling into stereotypical music categorizations.
Influenced by greats, such as Sonia Sanchez, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Black Ice, Mums Da Schemer, Nas, Toni Morrison, Robert Browning, Nikki Giovanni and Octavia Butler, Khemist’s layered lyrics speak of survival and self-reliance, loss and longing, with a razor-sharp delivery that resonates with his legions fans, including Lauryn Hill, Black Thought, Bilal, and Pharoahe Monch.
Ironically, it was years of not speaking during his childhood — from fifth to eighth grade — that Khemist credits with leading him to a career as a journeyman lyricist. While at the playground, Khemist came across an injured bleeding man facing certain death. An older man told Khemist to keep his mouth shut about the shocking scene he just witnessed — and that is exactly what he did. In an instant, Khemist was robbed of his innocence by a death he never actually saw, but could not unsee. Coupled with the trauma of the subsequent loss of friends to senseless crime and the American carceral system, Khemist became desensitized to violence, yet determined to serve as a voice for the voiceless.
A former workshop leader for the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, Khemist cut his teeth writing poetry, listening to “The Come Up Show with DJ Cosmic Kev,” watching HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and battling on rap DVDs. Later, he would be honored, to finally be featured on Def Poetry.
Recording with leading producer Anwar Marshall, Khemist graduated from spoken word poetry and marathon freestyle rap to picking up a guitar at age 22. His willingness to embrace this new challenge and discomfort facilitated substantial artistic growth and liberated him to become more than an emcee. Pairing lyrical prowess with diligent musicianship, he developed a sound that reflects his encyclopedic-like knowledge of Black American musical folkways , as well as the vast, ambitious nature of his progressive sounds. It is this music that he believes to be the most important of his life.
Like Khemist, this is not just rap.
Khemist first made waves on the Puzzle Pieces mixtape. He followed with Death 2 Wack Rappers, hosted by Black Thought, and the Khemist x Aktive mixtape, featuring DJ Aktive. Khemist’s spoken word project, Lornda & Poems, is a heartfelt ode to his grandmother. Virginia radio fixture and Pusha T affiliate, DJ Rick Geez, joined Khemist on Scrap Metal. Written and recorded in one day, All In A Day’s Work, dials up the lyrical showmanship of Philadelphia rap lore. Khemist later connected with Zaytona on Wolves.
In 2019, Khemist caught the attention of musicheads and fans all over with his music video, “I Been on a Budget”, as well as his live performance videos. A year later, he gained an even broader audience when he appeared on NPR Music as a guest performer with saxophonist, Teodross Avery, and received a Lennon Award for Songwriting for his song, Upright.
After countless hours logged in the studio, Khemist’s forthcoming Khemtrails EP and impending full-length studio album are the culmination of his previous releases. He has moved into a new realm with his music on his upcoming EP, Khemtrails (Black Baby Digital). His “most honest music” to date and one where he “took ownership over each component of the music,” Khemist says that with Khemtrails ““he is living in my purpose.”