A lot of times in life, we use music as an escape from reality. When it comes to Kim Owens, also known as the R&B artist Kem, we are able to understand his hardships by listening to his lyrics. They are mainly about love and overcoming hard times.
Early in life, Kem dealt with a lot of problems, having an addiction to drugs is what isolated him from his family and caused him to live on the streets as a homeless man. He was broken, and he knew that, he felt like there was nothing that he could do to change his circumstances. But then, on July 23, 1990, Kem hit rock bottom. In an interview with Brennan Williams, a writer for The Huffington Post, Kem said, “My addiction brought me to my knees. So it was like, ‘Look, either you’re going to do this or you’re going to die out here in the streets.’ I could no longer continue living the way I was living, and I didn’t know how to stop. And it was at that point when we [as addicts] give up on our own plan and our own ideas on how to solve our dilemmas – as far as recovery is concerned – we have to get out of the way.” One of the greatest things about the R&B singer is that he always remembers where he came from, and by utilizing his music to address those problems, he is able to help others in the process.
Mack & Third Inc. is a non-profit organization that Kem created in 2009 for the homeless community. Before 1990, Kem’s life resembled the people that he now has the power to help. He was living in different shelters, treatment centers, hospitals and even jails, attempting to deal with his addiction on his own. Over the last six years, his organization has collected almost a million canned goods for this homeless shelter, with about 130,000 of them coming from a benefit concert at Cass Park in August 2012. The company has reached its goals of teaching the youth and the others, promoting a Godly spirit on a global scale, and raising awareness about homelessness in Detroit. Kem’s incredible devotion to helping the less fortunate has been an amazing experience for everyone involved.
His music talks a lot about loving the person you’re with, and how love can cause you to change. When he was young, he would listen to radio stations that played jazz and pop music, and he was hooked almost instantly. His love for music helped a lot during his struggle and soon after, he realized he wanted to make a difference and music would be his tool.
Kem’s music has been tossing out positive messages about overcoming obstacles since 2001. Before being signed by Motown Records, he actually self-financed the release of his first album, Kemistry. He wrote and produced the entire album, and after being signed by the label in 2001, he saw his career begin to take off. Motown Records released his album in February of 2003, and shortly after, Kem saw his album listed on the top charts. The first single available on Kemistry was named “Love Calls,” and it immediately went to the top of the charts with the majority of the urban population absolutely loving it.
“Love Calls,” for me, is a soothing song from the soul that describes a man who has lost so much, that he feels that he cannot love again. Kem released three more albums over the span of nine years, from 2005-2014. Album II and Intimacy: Album III were both released under Motown. ntimacy: Album III features the single, “Why Would You Stay,” a song that received a no. 17 spot on the U.S. Kem’s single claimed that it’s fine to fight for someone who loves you, but it’s a waste of time to fight for someone to love you. The song was acknowledged worldwide and became a musical tune that would play all throughout the radio stations for singles and couples alike to singalong to. With Album II earning platinum status and Album III getting a gold one, it was quite obvious that Kem was beginning to make a mark in the music industry with his inspirational music.
Promise to Love is an album that began in 2014, and it’s still gaining fans to this day. This album actually peaked at no. 1 on the U.S. R&B charts shortly after the release, and we are still clamoring about it now.
Kem has definitely been busy lately. With his latest album and an ongoing tour, he has been all over the United States performing, and even talking to addicts and the youth that seem to be going down that path. In an interview with Nekia Nichelle, a radio and television personality whose career focuses on acting and fashion, published by ChicagoNow, an online blogging community for the Chicago lifestyle, Kem said, “You know, it’s right in season, right now, so I’ll probably spend the bulk of 2016 preparing for the next projects. Everything’s still in the incubator. I’m excited about launching another project, wrapping this project up, Promise to Love, you know, this is the third single off of this album and this has been a good record for us, and my hope is to continue to do more of the same.” His music is just one aspect of his career that has been helping the homeless and addicts, but it’s a crucial part, too. Throughout this year, he has been touring to places like Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and hundreds of other large cities. We can expect that next year, too, we will see him in several cities performing live and spreading the message of his organization, Mack & Third Inc.
“I think with every record, I’m involved as the singer, the songwriter and the producer. I think it’s just a natural progression, and my hope is to always get better.” He went on to say, “I believe in the song, and it takes time to make a Kem record. That’s why it takes so long, you know, four years between albums, man.”