It’s become commonplace to blame artists for the increasing scarcity of classic albums release over the last few years, but in truth the blame lies as much with iPod-obsessed listeners as “I gotta have a hot single” artists. A classic album is one that’s just as rewarding on the 100th listen as it was on the first, but how often do we listen to anything 100 times anymore? Back in the proverbial day, our only options were to buy an album or listen to the radio, so when you found an album worth your time … ...Read the full album review
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DJBooth Album Review
It’s become commonplace to blame artists for the increasing scarcity of classic albums release over the last few years, but in truth the blame lies as much with iPod-obsessed listeners as “I gotta have a hot single” artists. A classic album is one that’s just as rewarding on the 100th listen as it was on the first, but how often do we listen to anything 100 times anymore? Back in the proverbial day, our only options were to buy an album or listen to the radio, so when you found an album worth your time it could live in your boombox for months, and so artists made works that could withstand the test of time. By contrast, in the digital age we can literally download hundreds of free albums and mixtapes every day, and so artists have understandably shifted from keeping our attention to capturing our attention. We really did bring it upon ourselves.
Coming off that previous paragraph I realize this may sound like an album rating cock tease, but ¡MAYDAY!’s new album, Take Me to Your Leader, isn’t a classic. The fast-rising Miami crew are, however, part of a growing movement of artists dedicated to once again making lasting music, and if they have to lead while the fans follow, then so be it. With a line-up that boasts two emcees (Bernz and Wrekonize), a producer/guitarist (Plex Luthor), a bassist/keyboardist (Gianni Ca$h), a drummer (L.T. Hopkins) and a percussionist (Nonymous), Take Me To Your Leader is just as diverse, wide-ranging and complex as the men who made it.
A large part of Take Me To Your Leader’s ability to be more than just some hot music lies in ¡MAYDAY!’s willingness to engage the larger world. While most rappers seemingly live in a world that consists solely of three locations (car, club and crib), ¡MAYDAY! isn’t afraid to travel to blow up the system with some musical TNT. An appropriately marching track that also includes unabashed revolutionaries dead prez (Let’s Get Free, now there’s a classic album), TNT travels as far away as the Arab Spring in Tunisia and comes as close as our own homes. This is music as unity, a theme that’s revisited on album standout Death March. A cut that’s dark without feeling oppressive, strong without sounding overbearing, Death March is perhaps the album’s best demonstration of ¡MAYDAY!’s abilities. With this many instruments at their disposal it’d be easy to write songs that allow them to flex their musical muscles, but instead they realize that there’s power in restraint, a philosophy shared with The Roots excellent undun. From the crunching Badlands to the more uptempo and 9-to-5 Last Days, Take Me To Your Leader lives in a world where it’s not all good. You know, the actual world.
But while ¡MAYDAY! have made an album that’s certainly not afraid to delve into restrained seriousness, there are moments on the album when they both address their more personal problems and get loose. I’ve never seen ¡MAYDAY! live (feel free to mail me tickets guys), but I’ve got no doubt that the insatiable Everything’s Everything, while also heavy in topic, is a guaranteed crowd mover. And not even revolutionaries as immune to heartbreak, as the slowly burning relationship jam Imprint shows, but both cuts are still low energy compared to the more openly kinetic Dig It Out and the album’s unchallenged party selection Hardcore Bit*hes, which brings to mind the rock-meets-club-banger sound of some of N.E.R.D.’s work. Or if you’re simply in the mood to, you know, get in the mood, you could do a lot worse than the smoothed out Keep Em On.
It’d be a mistake to divide Take Me To Your Leader into party-ready and battle-ready tracks. Like any lasting work, it’s not that simple. Even in the album’s darkest hours there are rays of lights, and even at its lightest the album is weighed down with the inescapable problems of the world. That complexity, however, is what will give ¡MAYDAY!‘s major (indie) label debut such an extended expiration date. Inevitably there will be those will listen to Take Me To Your Leader a handful of times and then lose track of it in the onslaught of new music, it’s simply the times we live in, but I’ve got the feeling that those who go old school and let the album really run, play it so often that it becomes forever connected to a certain time in your life, will find their efforts well rewarded. The truth is that ¡MAYDAY! have done their part, now it’s up to us to decide what becomes of Take Me To Your Leader.
Listen to More: ¡MAYDAY! Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Nothin (Remix)" (2010)
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