Mereba’s New EP, ‘AZEB’ Shines as 2021’s Most Necessary Introspective Spring Project
Evan Dale // May 29, 2021
Atlanta raised Angeleno, Mereba is an artist whose sound boasts more of a worldly citizenry than it does the local patchwork that even a global culture capital like Atlanta or LA brings to the table. Instead, hers is a sound so wide-ranging, refined, and inexplicably indefinable that it transcends geography, time, and perhaps even this world. It is, ultimately, unique. Though rooted in a mellow, introspection towards which to think deeply and immersive oneself in emotion, the artistry of Mereba – which itself spans the sung, the rapped, the written, and the instrumentalized – is one of a kind. Defined by the low-key and emotionally warm production that allows an expansive fluidity of her silky register and rhythmic poetic raps, Mereba’s auditory aesthetic emerges as some of the most contemplative, timeless grey area that Neo-Soul, R&B, folk, and hip-hop are capable of framing in one setting. And her new project, AZEB, is not only another necessary chapter in her story, but one of the most necessary collections of 2021.
It’s only been two years since the release of her acclaimed 2019 sophomore project, The Jungle Is The Only Way Out, and in combination with numerous features – some alongside her associated super-collaborative project, Spillage Village – and singles of her own, she’s been a presence in music at seemingly all times, in seemingly all stylistic spaces. And yet, mystery prevails. It’s something in the overarching breadth of her breath that brings a reminiscence of a listener’s own inner voice. The calming melodies, the meditative poetics, and the unending cool of her production and instrumentals feel pulled from the pensive serenity of thoughts cushioned by a comfort in our own lives in specific moments spent laying under a tree or hiking alone. And if all of that seems hyper-specific to you, just listen to the project yourself and feel the wonder of Mereba’s addicting worldbuilding warmth transporting you to the mental space of your own inner peace.
Though AZEB is not necessarily a new direction for Mereba who has since she appeared on the scene with 2013 debut, Room for Living, been exploring the vocal boundlessness of Neo-Soul hand-in-hand with a knack for oft spoken-word style intermittent raps and an affinity for an acoustic guitar, AZEB feels more like a continuation of her early work than it does further construction atop the more experimentally hip-hop oriented The Jungle Is The Only Way Out (TJITOWO). A lot of that appears in the complete lack of featuring names in AZEB’s line-up. Though TJISOWO only saw two guest spots through a nearly 40-minute runtime, the fact that longtime friends and collaborators 6LACK and JID brought their experimental hip-hop and R&B merging to the floor, and the fact that JID-accompanied Sandstorm really came to exist as the project’s standout hit, granted it a more fast-paced, hip-pop adjacent identity. But with AZEB, the floor lay bare with the heart and soul of pure Mereba genius.
From top to bottom, her newest EP is an exhibition of a sound that has come to exist only by her hand. No one else in this world is making music so infused with the specific blend of stylistic influences that she is. And for all intents and purposes, though only a seven-track EP, AZEB is an explosion of late Springtime anthems coordinated in tumbling perfection in accordance of one another. Drawn akin by all the traits we’ve already spoken about: silky vocals, thought-provoking raps woven effortlessly into them, calming guitar riffs, and perfectly suited production surrounding it all, the entirety of AZEB in many ways feels like one run-on composition. And that’s exactly how it should be consumed.
From track one through track seven, a listener is immersed in the meditative mellow of Mereba’s beautiful AZEB, acting as ‘a light to help guide you on your way.’ And though her quote on the project may seem ambiguous and almost obvious for most artists to say about their work, here, it feels acutely refined. Mereba has long been a force of self-reflection, immersion, and introspection for listeners. It’s in the things she says, the way she says them, and the way she’s capable of communicating even when it’s only the effortless strokes of her guitar doing the talking. It all comes to soundtrack such personal moments of serenity and self-discovery for anyone listening, that the light of AZEB shines not only bright, but infinitely incandescent for fans and for music at large, which could stand to learn much of the same lessons from the truth and utter vulnerable emotionality of Mereba and her newest collection.