MFnMelo’s Everybody Eats is Another Chicago Display of Flow & Poetry
Evan Dale // Nov 25, 2019
PSA: If you’re not from Chicago, maybe you should be.
The longstanding understated cultural mecca has been the birthplace and continuous motor for hip-hop equal parts inventive flow and conscious lyricism. And in the last two years, the city has ramped it up even further. Primarily on the backs of Chicago-centric hip-hop collective, Pivot Gang – Saba, Joseph Chilliams, Frsh Waters, MFnMelo – who constantly fold in the city’s most acclaimed and desired talent – Jean Deaux, Kari Faux, Smino, Mick Jenkins, Femdot – there is a movement – a pivot – happening in hip-hop that is rooted strictly in Chicago’s emergent underground.
Parallel to the city’s positivist bubble rap movement sparkplugged by Chance the Rapper and driven forward by a 2019 à la Tobi Lou, a clinic on inventive flow and untouched lyricism is beginning to take center stage even outside of Chicago itself. Saba, Mick Jenkins, and Smino who himself brings in tow a long list of Zero Fatigue team members, have been making their presence felt for years. But now, that presence is finally finding itself pedestalled at the height its creativity and influence deserves, bringing limelight to some of the as-of-yet lesser known names in the Midwest Renaissance scene.
Saba’s CARE FOR ME, Joseph Chilliams’ The Plastics, Smino’s NOIR, Pivot Gang’s You Can’t Sit With Us, and a barrage of feature spots sent from Chicago to some of 2018 and 2019’s most important projects have all set the precedent that words that cut as sharply as Noname, Saba, and Mick Jenkins, flow that invents as wildly as Smino, Bari, and Femdot, and eccentricity that captures imagination as curiously as Monte Booker’s production and Joseph Chilliams’ thematic discourse is the kind of risk-taking nature that hip-hop needs in order to evolve.
And with Everybody Eats, Pivot Gang understudy and underrated hip-hop experimentalist, MFnMelo solidifies his place in the conversation as a key subject and object of that evolution.
The project is Melo’s sophomore and his first since 2017, but it’s the undeniable work of a veteran who is constantly refining a sound unlike anyone else. That individuality seems like a Pivot Gang prerequisite. And to MFnMelo, that individuality is defined first by an ability to change his flow throughout a track; second by his addicting melodies; and third by a low register that directs focus to the depth of his penmanship. It’s a formula – but one that track-to-track always provides a different result.
Through it all – his adjusting delivery, his ability to craft a melody, his meaningful penmanship, and his attention-grabbing sound – MFnMelo has no trouble divulging in tracks on opposite ends of an energy scale. Case and point: take the first four tracks of Everybody Eats as an overarching microcosm.
The project opens with the meditative Weight Lift, fit with a carefully curated choral melody that makes the entire experience anthemic. It’s a strong track to open with, introducing listeners to low-fidelity Monte Booker inspired production contrasting with intensive vocal and lyrical deliveries. Yallwhadinthere comes after, again exploring the realm of the unavoidably repeatable chorus in contrast with an even more intensive tear of lyrical prowess in verse. By the time Unsung starts playing as the project’s tertiary song, the formula holds true, but the energy with which MFnMelo is able to convey his message evolves drastically. Unsung’s production sets a blue, emotive expectation, and Melo’s melody strengthens it further. When his songwriting ability is taking into account, it shines a light on just how wide-ranging – even within a relative formula – MfnMelo is capable of being. And finally, Flow Seats once again highlights the drastic energetic and emotional shifts that Melo pursues. Undoubtedly the most anthemic, and likely the strongest hip-hop pop hit of the bunch, Flow Seats highlights the most mainstream of his scale without giving into sounding like anyone else in hip-hop.
Throughout its entirety, can be aligned with its opening four tracks. MFnMelo masters a formula that highlights the individuality of his cohesive talents, and experiments wildly in how they come across on two different sliding scales: energy and emotion. And from it all, Everybody Eats shines Melo as an avid experimentalist and another necessary force of uniqueness in Chicago’s constantly expanding influential hip-hop scene.