Keshi releases his first album


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Born to Vietnamese parents, keshi adds to a growing collection of popular Asian-American artists; his name comes to mind alongside Rich Brian, Jhené Aiko and Olivia Rodrigo. Fans can stress the ethnicity of their favorite artists as part of why they enjoy their works, but keshi tries to distance himself from this branding on his identity. “I think that when you try to stress that you are an Asian-American artist, it’s almost like you’re trying to carve out a space for yourself that says, ‘Hey, this guy is an Asian artist so you should give him attention because of that when the real reason you should be giving someone attention is that their art is just good.,” Keshi said.

Elijah Pacis, Sports Editor

Rising artist Casie Luong, or “keshi”, released his first-ever album, “GABRIEL”, on March 25, 2022. This signifies a major step for the fledgling artist after a series of successful single releases to kickstart his career. Keshi began spreading his passion for music on Soundcloud, sharing his content through self-marketing until a breakthrough in 2018 with the release of “the reaper” when popular K-pop idols including BTS, NCT 127 and Itzy revealed their enjoyment of his work. 

Keshi creates music through a mix of lo-fi hip hop instrumentation and airy R&B vocals. He draws inspiration from artists that commit to similar genres and styles of music, including Frank Ocean and Bryson Tiller. This combination of influences and musical styles heightens his emotional and moody lyrics that tackle bittersweet concepts. He draws on this pattern consistently throughout his works and maintains it in “GABRIEL”. 

“He likes to add a lot of background tracks into his songs such as ‘like i need u’. I loved the lyrics in all of his songs. I’m not fond of the slower songs though. It may be just because I’m not used to slow songs specifically by him, but I do admire him getting out of his comfort zone and trying new things,” junior Kaylie Paneda said.

The album begins with two songs officially released prior to the album itself: “GET IT” and “SOMEBODY”. “GET IT” showcases keshi’s life in a shallow, arrogant way, pointing at a material life. The song diverges from the rest of his works by leaning heavily towards a distinct hip hop beat and emotionally disconnected lyrics. The unique song functions as a wild card in the album, offering a different experience from what historically defined the emerging artist. On the other hand, keshi first teased the album through the release of “SOMEBODY”, just after the release of his single “beside you”. “SOMEBODY” features instrumentation that leans towards hip hop similar to “GET IT”, but subtly compared with the latter. 

WESTSIDE” features a playful guitar accompanied by a light bassline to capture lyrics about keshi leaving his family to work heavily in Los Angeles. The following song, “TOUCH”, switches things up. Keshi opts for a slower track led by a piano and deeper bass. He also sings about a physical relationship that he longs to deepen, to trade non-exclusivity for commitment. 

The album speeds back up on the next track, “MILLI”.  “MILLI” plays out similarly to “GET IT”, favoring independence and confidence in its lyrics, alongside powerful drums and beat drops.

While not a song, “PÉRE” takes the sixth track and the midpoint of keshi’s new album. Keshi’s father, Eric Luong, speaks in French about what he would tell his 18-year old self. Luong admits his vulnerability and apprehensions about living and studying in a foreign land while affirming a dream of his future.

HELL/HEAVEN” opens with airy female vocals laying out the soft chorus, suddenly detonating into keshi’s verses and ending on overlaid vocals at the end chorus. The song takes advantage of glitch rhythms and the stark contrast between beat and vocals. 

ANGOSTURA” backtracks to keshi’s prevailing theme of romance. The lyrics portray attention-seeking and a balance of giving and taking between two lovers. This track shifts between heartfelt vulnerability and quick releases of these emotions paired with the adding and subtracting of instruments to create build-up and drops.

UNDERSTAND” serves as a message of praise from keshi to his fiance Mai and their relationship. The song relies solely on keshi’s vocals and a solo guitar, accompanied by strings. These three elements blend into a heartfelt love letter showcasing Casey Luong through the one closest to him as opposed to his persona, keshi. 

The next track, “LIMBO”, tackles keshi’s mindset. The lyrics discuss an apparent difference between how he tries to place his mindset and portray his outward appearance but contradicts himself by talking about how he feels awful and how he runs from his self-doubt and inner demons by placing his worth in other people. The instrumentation delicately places guitars and pianos together into a somber tune, masked by a hip-hop bassline further highlighting the conflict within the song. 

ANGEL” offers another distinction from the rest of keshi’s works. The song features a playful piano melody made somber in a high octave. The song builds up by adding both electric and acoustic guitars to the chorus, then ending the song suddenly by cutting off all instruments other than the soft piano melody. The song follows keshi’s misconception about a girl who did not treat him the way he expected.

The album ends on “GABRIEL”, the titular track about keshi’s parents and watching them grow old. The hymn-like song mainly features layered vocals and a piano comparably deeper than other tracks on the album. Keshi alludes to Gabriel, an angel from the Bible who conveys messages to people and one of the few angels mentioned by name.

Overall, the album showed off the growth of keshi as an artist and as Casey Luong and revealed his innermost thoughts. This vulnerability and emotion tell a story about keshi’s life in the past few years after his discovery. He places a lot of emphasis on personal relationships by placing tracks relating to his family in key chronological positions such as the midpoint and end of his album. He maintained the pattern of R&B and hip hop styles in his compositions, but branched out further in “GABRIEL”, allowing his versatility to shine on through. 


The Chant’s Rating: A