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Every week we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week, we’re discussing the new EP END OF THE EARTH from rising experimental rapper MAVI.
It’s hard to recall a slow-burn rap rise as electrifying as the last two years of Omavi Minder’s career, emerging from SoundCloud run to breakout album while earning the respect of peers and predecessors. And while he had the pre-COVID privilege of playing several packed U.S. spot dates, he’s maneuvered through a quarantine year the best he can from his position: staying low, facing himself, working when he can. With mounting expectations after 2019’s well-celebrated Let the Sun Talk, MAVI elected to spend 2020 in relative silence as he toiled away on the anticipated Shango. As a snapshot between the breakout and the next step, END OF THE EARTH signals both a return to breathless, breathtaking form while bringing context to how MAVI’s receiving life post-Times Square billboard and post-mask mandate. It’s strange to still have so much to celebrate, yet nothing unfamiliar at all: such is the life of a nigga tryna make it, no matter what.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch MAVI’s sharpening in real-time, and his choice to slow the work down suits him well. Should he submit his brilliance to the churn of today’s expectations, would the potency remain? Nothing about this music is disposable, and urgency seeps from every soundwave. It’s likely why “I CAIN’T WRITE ALL THE TIME ’CUZ I CAIN’T LIE!'' is the line I’ve seen quoted most in this project’s first-week lifespan. The quoted record “TIME TRAVEL” sets the scene so gorgeously as MAVI bounces from a new Kel-Tec to thoughts of a new baby, observing the new folks pining for proximity to him and juggling his graciousness with the arrogance of a heavyweight champ who’ll knock anyone’s head off. We saw him before the acclaim, now END OF THE EARTH reconfirms the elements of what makes him such a formidable, deeply human MC while serving a quick glance into the chaos of a young man, growing.
Fourteen minutes proves just enough time to offer the obvious lesson: remain prepared. It’s about the pursuit of true love versus the comforts of lust, the willingness to fight with the necessity to protect oneself. In the quest to improve material realities for Black folks, MAVI’s crafting fight music; here, he’s laying the foundation for new sounds to do so. He’s passionate, often cerebral, but never so detached that he’s disconnected himself from this reality. It’s symbolic of the fight for self-determination, matched by a glowing nostalgia of the little details that raise him up. These details make MAVI so relatable: He remembers the lunch ladies, the slow-dancing and the ways his family’s been haunted by their pasts. For the initiated, this EP may feel like a tease more than a grand elevation; that said, MAVI continues to stand on his own while leaving so much to sink one’s teeth into that 14 minutes may sustain six months. That’s ample time to find oneself as he searches in front of us.
Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez) is a rapper and a former VMP staff writer. He's known for his Twitter fingers.
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