After finishing high school, Kem dealt with homelessness, addiction, and isolation from his family. He was caught shoplifting beer from 7-11.
He did not overcome these issues until he turned to spirituality and music, as he has said, "My career didn't take off until I connected with my spirituality. That's why I take time on stage and on the album to administer spirituality to people. That's one of the things that I am most proud of."
He has two daughters, Troi and Laylah.
He has also said that he does not create music marketed to the mainstream hip-hop-dominated R&B crowd but to people who enjoy his soul/jazz adult contemporary sound and lyrical content.
He wrote, produced, and financed his self-released debut album, Kemistry, with his American Express and singing top 40 cover tunes in a wedding band and waiting tables.
He was later signed by Motown Records in November 2001, who re-released the album on February 25, 2002, and sold more than 500,000 copies nationwide. The album's first single, "Love Calls", became a hit at urban adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio, and USA Today pegged it early on as a "Motown classic." His debut went gold-plus.
He followed his debut release with a second album, Album II, released May 17, 2005 and sold more than 500,000 copies nationwide. It included the hit single "I Can't Stop Loving You", a # 1 at urban adult contemporary radio, and the song "You Might Win" featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica.