'MmmmGurl,' I'm Sharing My Life as the Daughter and Little Sister of Kem Fans

KEM performs the national anthem during the Gibson/Baldwin “Night At The Net” charity event on July 25, 2005, in Westwood, California.
KEM performs the national anthem during the Gibson/Baldwin “Night At The Net” charity event on July 25, 2005, in Westwood, California.
Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld (Getty Images)

Hey Auntie, let’s talk about Kem.

Much like I’ve always attributed the sounds of The Tom Joyner Morning Show to my mama, I can also vividly picture her turning on Chicago local station V103 with a freshly warmed cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee as I sat in the passenger seat of her car.


We’ve already exhausted the concept of whether or not “auntie” is “a pejorative or an honorific,” but I’m here to crown one of the princes of auntie music. Kem is peak auntie music. With his penchant to add “mmm” before “gurrrrl” (seriously, is there scientific data explaining why he can’t say “gurl” without “mmm”?), Kem is a staple on my mama’s radio and I’m probably going to get a text or a call with a heavy-sighed tone when this blog is published. Still, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Love Calls” and “Share My Life”—let’s just say the possibilities are infinite.

Growing up, my grandma regularly called me an “imp.” It’s not an oft-used word, but it’s become one of my favorites. Today, I’m proving her right. One auntie may say I do not have taste or an adequate sense of hearing, but below are the things I believe Kem’s music sounds like (one for each month of the year, so if any calendar-making businesses want to partner with me and Kem, hit me up!):

  1. A bee orgy
  2. An HVAC system
  3. Wasps doing the electric slide
  4. A Compaq modem rebooting
  5. A pair of clippers in a humid barbershop
  6. A fly twerking on a lawnmower
  7. A vibrating iPhone on a conference table during an important meeting that could’ve been an email
  8. A neo-soul AOL dial-up tone
  9. A cicada under a blow dryer for its roller set
  10. A hummingbird doing the Harlem Shake
  11. A shy lawnmower
  12. A bee in a massage chair

Those who follow me on social media may be familiar with my ongoing trolling of Kem. I have been known to randomly post a status as to what Kem “sounds like.” It’s all love, especially since I love the people who love him, immensely. I already told y’all that roasting is my love language. My mama “don’t fool with that Facebook mess,” but my big sister is constantly in my comments admonishing me for messing with her Kem. It’s entertaining, actually.

Recently, the strength of the auntie was fully charged when Kem decided to hop on Instagram and Facebook Live draped in a smooth chest-hugging turtleneck to perform a concert during our ongoing stay-at-home order. Naturally, everyone tagged me in on the news—and yes, I joined.

Illustration for article titled 'MmmmGurl,' I'm Sharing My Life as the Daughter and Little Sister of Kem Fans
Photo: Tonja Stidhum (Instagram)

Though I lovingly roast his music, I actually respect the man as a person. He’s been very transparent and thoughtful when discussing his past battles with addiction and even spoke on some of it during small breaks in between his performances. Also, he seems like he gives good hugs that smell like Calvin Klein Eternity.


(Editor’s note: Remind me to tell you about the time I once opened for Kem. — Maiysha)

Perhaps one day, I’ll encounter him in person and after having read this blog, he’ll chuckle at my good-natured roasting and give me one of those hugs with a loving uncle tone of “tsk tsk tsk.”


And I hope he says “mmmgurrrrl” when he does...you know, for that hug vibration effect.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



Kem is a good guy. I have it on good authority (a homegirl from his alma mater high school) that he’s doing what he was meant to do since he’s been singing ‘bout “mmmgurl” since high school!

Plus, in 2011, he organized a summer picnic for Detroit’s homeless population in a little hidden city park that was a beautifully organized, wonderfully generous event TOTALLY free (he may have done it multiple times but I attended that one)! He’s a little ubiquitous on Detroit radio stations but you’ve gotta love him!