Last year, Luh Kel blossomed into a full-fledged star when he released his debut single “Wrong.” On his breakout record, the St. Louis hybrid flexed his R&B muscles and showcased his promise as a young debonair yearning for true love. “Wrong” won over fans and earned Kel his first platinum single. Months later, Kel notched two gold plaques with “BRB” and “Pull Up,” sealing his breakout year in 2019.
On Oct. 23, Kel released his latest project L.O.V.E., which spawns features from Queen Naija and Lil Tjay. Despite being only 18, Kel’s maturity and outlook on love shine through on his 14-track collection, most notably on “Want You,” “Promise,” and “Ecstasy.” Read on to learn more about Kel’s come-up, his self-confidence as an artist, and working with Queen Naija.
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
My first piece of music that I ever bought for myself, I think it was a Chris Brown album. I don’t know exactly which Chris Brown album it was, but I know it was one of his first albums. It had yellow on it and all of his big hits, and it was on iTunes. I remember I bought it on my mom’s phone.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
I don’t really know! I never really went to concerts up until recently, when I was performing myself. But it was probably a local St. Louis artist, honestly, when I would go to parties and stuff like that. But I’ve never really went to like, concerts.
3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?
My mom worked in the computer field — she would work on and fix computers.
4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
It was honestly me and the feeling that I get whenever I do music. People around me always told me that I was going to be a star, you know what I’m saying? Something about me was just different, and with everyone saying that, I kinda had that confidence that I could make it.
5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
I definitely want to go Diamond with a record. Honestly, that’s a dream for me. If I go Diamond, that’s like, the top of the chart.
6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
It put a drive in me. It made me want to push harder because, where I’m from, a lot of people don’t really have a lot. The fact that I’m the one person that got to do something and make it better for my city — me seeing that and knowing that pushes me harder every day, knowing that I can do something better with myself.
7. What’s the last song you listened to?
The last song I listened to was an unreleased song by me. Ha!
8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
Michael Jackson. Definitely.
9. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?
My grandpa fell into the crowd! It was kind of bad. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen happen. I was on stage performing and my grandpa just fell off the stage. He’s good, though!
10. What’s your karaoke go-to?
Probably “This Christmas” by Chris Brown.
11. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
I don’t cry!
12. What TV series have you watched all the way through multiple times?
All-American, definitely. That’s a really good show.
13. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
I feel like everyone knows a lot about me already. I think I’m pretty much an open book. There’s really nothing that no one doesn’t know about me, for real.
14. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
I’d probably still be in school. I would have graduated high school and then went to college. But honestly, I’ve known since I was young. I couldn’t enjoy myself doing anything else. Everything else I did, I just wasn’t as excited. I knew that it wasn’t for me, and it wasn’t anything I wanted to do with my life. In school, I knew that I was different compared to what everyone else was doing and I stood out with music — everything else didn’t really pique my mind.
15. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Keep pushing, stay motivated, and don’t stop.
16. You opened up for Polo G last year. What do you miss most about performing?
Everything. The feel of it, everyone singing your songs, screaming — it just feels good. I miss that rush.
17. You worked with Queen Naija on “Want You.” Talk about the chemistry you guys have and what made that song special.
That’s like my sister. It was genuine from the beginning. We sent her the song and she sent her verse right back, and she texted me right after she sent it like, “Do you like it?” It was always a little brother-big sister kind of relationship, you know what I’m saying? When I met her, she was so cool. We were laughing and kicking it.
18. You’ve had three big singles so far with “Wrong,” “BRB” and “Pull Up.” Which song surprised you the most in terms of its success?
Definitely “Wrong,” because that was my first song ever. I didn’t know that I could make a song that would go Platinum and do all these big things, so definitely that one.
19. You have a strong relationship with your fans on Instagram. How do you protect that bond and connection you have with them while balancing being a star at the same time?
That’s a hard one. You just have to stay on Instagram because if you lose that picture, that image, you’re going to lose your fans, so you have to keep showing your face.
20. What was your favorite song to record on L.O.V.E. and why?
I’d say “Feen.” I was in the booth with Scott Storch — we were just cooking up, and Scott told me right from the rip, “Yeah, that’s a hit right there.” Always from the jump, I knew that was going to be a big song.