Mavi's Let the Sun Talk is this Year's Reminder of Underground Hip-Hop's Truest Aim
Evan Dale // Oct 20, 2019
There is something particularly reminiscent of the old-school in the texture of Charlotte lyricist, Mavi’s hip-hop soundscape. Like a modern, Southern edition of RZA, his simple, sample-ridden beats, his low-register, and his provocative penmanship round out Mavi is one of the more timeless underground rappers around.
What kind of songs you make? I make the kind you’ve got to read, baby. (Sense)
If any line from his new album, Let The Sun Talk introduces his music best, it’s this one. And that’s saying a lot because the project’s entirety is riddled with poeticism and thought-provoking looks into Mavi’s artistry and ethical stances on the underrepresented communities that he fills the void to represent. A voice for those whose voice is too often silenced and a product of the environment for which he speaks, Mavi with Let the Sun Talk is a reaffirmation of hip-hop’s roots and the meaning permanently interlaced with the styling’s heavy socio-political foundation.
To be Pro-Black means to relentlessly pursue money, land, guns and useful knowledge for the purpose of creating and maintaining healthy and productive Black communities. It means the cultivation of a culture that reinforces a unified vision of Black well-being and continuous advancement. It is also to seek for oneself and share with one's communities the following critical assets: knowledge, wisdom, understanding, freedom, justice, equality, food, clothing, shelter, love, peace and happiness. (Terms & Conditions)
Akin to a rangy collective of underground artists still holding true to the tenants of rap’s most eternal pillars – rhythm and poetry – Mavi fuses his curated understanding of the past with a vivid individuality that makes his art not old, not new, but simply timeless. It’s simple in production and comparable, as said earlier, to a Golden-Era and early Gangsta-Rap aesthetic, but in cadence, penmanship, and general texture, Let the Sun Talk sets Mavi apart very much his own artist.
His particular hip-hop aesthetic is one delineated first by endlessly meaningful and evocative lyricism; second by an understated delivery that disguises just how in-depth his words are; and third by an ability to flow in and out of any beat seamlessly, rounding out the ultimate image of an effortless rapper whose true underlying structure is constantly suggestive of a hip-hop era come, gone, and thanks to modern artists like Mavi, come again.
And truthfully, who’s not inspired by the greats of hip-hop’s past? Mavi’s identity as obvious product of that sound only enhances the fact that his music will be influential for generations to come.
That depth and timelessness is also accompanied by a simple set of instructions made easy by Let the Sun Talk’s one-track, 36-minute form on SoundCloud. The album may be a collection of tracks, and taken piecemeal through other streaming services, it undoubtedly shines as a collection unbound by era or hip-hop sub-styling. But it’s meant to be listened to in whole. Musically, Let the Sun Talk progresses from a darker and particularly low-fidelity point at its start to an exponentially warmer texture highlighted by a quickened cadence and a softer production as it carries beyond its intermission; again, it slows and returns to a jazzier point at close. The entire thing is a wave and we’re meant to ride it all the way to shore.
A true product of the South, Mavi is the latest underground hip-hop artist to shine with an old-school, one-track album unbound by epochal restraint and thus bound unquestionably by penmanship to its highest pedestal. There are no words wasted, and Mavi – as one of rap’s seemingly most underrated rappers – is well aware of that fact.
I be talking shit that there ain’t English words fitting for (Love, of Money)
When it comes to modern comparisons, Let the Sun Talk is reminiscent of one project in particular. Last summer, Birmingham, Alabama wordsmith and proponent of the fusing between the South’s hip-hop past and present, Pink Siifu delivered a one-hour, one-track album, ensley. Lyrically masterful, productively minimal, and unfailingly effortless at its surface while complex and timeless behind the curtain, ensley will go on standing as a modern masterpiece cut from the Southside cloth for generations to come. And Mavi, owning a similar skillset and following a similar template, will be able to say the same about Let the Sun Talk. It’s hip-hop for the true hip-hop fan. Rap not for rap’s sake but for the sake of the rap community. And isn’t that what rap – what hip-hop – has always been about?
Let the Sun Talk is nothing short of a masterpiece itself. It’s this year’s underground reminder of what hip-hop has always aimed to achieve with the tools hip-hop has always relied on. And for that, Mavi is a genius – a mastermind of timelessness, effortlessness, the pen, and the curated wave of their overarching confluence.