MIKE - Beware of the Monkey Music Album Reviews

MIKE - Beware of the Monkey Music Album Reviews
MIKE continues a long run of great records with his self-produced 10th album, a self-assured current of shifting emotional states. 

MIKE’s music celebrates the relief of finding the right words. When his inner monologue tumbles out into the world, he basks in the weight of the disclosure. His love of the spoken word is almost devotional; in his heady songs, voicing a thought or emotion is akin to channeling the divine. On Beware of the Monkey, his self-produced 10th album, such revelations come frequently and forcefully. The record is self-assured and polyvalent, a current of shifting emotional states that MIKE’s exquisite word and production choices shape into rich affirmations.

MIKE sets the tone early. “This my only chance left, to prove to y’all, I’m the best rapper in the fuckin’ world,” he says in the opening seconds of “As 4 Me,” a combo of confidence and urgency that’s present throughout the record. His normally lethargic raps now come with vigor and resolve as he takes stock of the comforts his music career has provided him and vows to support his family and himself. If past albums were journals where he logged secret fears and private observations, this one is a treaty—a public and binding mission statement. “Live like it’s my all, gotta give a bunch,” he says on soulful opener “nuthin i can do is wrng.” His verses throughout have the conviction of oaths.

MIKE has long been a commanding performer whose wounded baritone could draw you in even as his hazy words pushed you away, but here he is inviting and forthcoming. He’s not exactly an open book, but his constant mentions of forward momentum make his oblique references to anxiety and stress more engrossing. “Navy in the sea, shit we steering till the sea waveless,” he raps on the woozy “Ezcema.” Backed by dancehall legend Sister Nancy on the upbeat “Stop Worry!,” MIKE honors his late mother and pledges to push through pain and doubt. “I peep your hustle and ya brains ma/I hold the deed, I can’t fumble on the game shot,” he raps, the last line accented by the sound of a basketball crisply spilling through a net. This sure-shot demeanor makes his words feel even more carefully chosen.

Amid the flexes, MIKE still waxes about depression and losing loved ones, but he seems more intent on weaving those emotions into a wider patchwork of experiences. On the aptly named “Tapestry,” he ties his woes to his achievements. “Dread and blasphemy/Sitting ’laxed in my apartment where these raps put me,” he says with gratitude, his dexterous slow flow expanding and compressing his words like a lung processing air. He has never branded himself a sadboi or bluesman like, say, Rod Wave or Morray, but he clearly seeks to ballast his melancholy with his passions and interests: basketball, punchlines, romance, family. A weepy voicemail from his sister that closes “Ipari Park” and opens “Swoosh 23” captures the range of the music—her tearful words are as jubilant and encouraging as they are glum.

The production embodies that scope as much as the lyrics and interludes. Like his peers and collaborators Navy Blue, Ohbliv, and KeiyaA, as his producer alias dj blackpower, MIKE leans toward slowed soul loops that wallow in the emotive contours of the human voice. The beats on Beware of the Monkey don’t outright break from that formula, but MIKE diversifies his sources, flipping bits of R&B, jazz, and neo-soul. The slow jam sampled on “What Do I Do?” sways like lovers embracing on the dancefloor, highlighting the swing in MIKE’s loping cadences. The shrill horns looped on “No Curse Lifted (rivers of love)” ring out like rooster crows, contrasting MIKE’s muffled delivery. “23 around the earth, see the world different/Went deep into the dirt, seen a pearl glisten,” he says, the verse digging through his mind like a hand through loam.

Self-affirmation has been the core of MIKE’s music since early confessionals like “years/alone” and “ROCKBOTTOM/PEACE TO COME,” which find comfort in saying the grim stuff out loud. So even when he’s boasting and rightfully declaring himself the builder of a wave of lo-fi rap on “What Do I Do?” MIKE is still boosting his self-esteem. On Beware of the Monkey though, he expands his idea of self to encompass his inner world as well as the circles, bonds, and sounds that sustain him. As MIKE expresses himself with increasing confidence, the miracle of speaking up feels less like his coping mechanism and more like a resource anyone can tap. 
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
MIKE - Beware of the Monkey Music Album Reviews MIKE - Beware of the Monkey Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 10, 2023 Rating: 5


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