Mavi is a rare breed of artist. Hardly have we seen someone that simultaneously exists in the opposing spaces of academia and hip hop. Mavi is a 20 year old student at the accredited HBCU Howard University and is studying Neuroscience. Aside from this, he also dropped one of the most critically well-received projects of the year in 2019 with Let the Sun Talk. On this album, Mavi explores themes of Black liberation, mental health, and spirituality.
What sets Mavi apart from his contemporaries is his passionately intricate lyricism. This is at full display on the track “Eye/I and I/Nation”, a cut from the project:
“Beer goggles got my eyes posin’ like they broke/I know I’ma catch a sideye dashin’ out the door/Flash my forever doctors note, ‘Too depressed, gotta go’/It do the trick, that’s always, though”.
Here, Mavi is painting a picture of the perils that one faces when using depression as a scapegoat for self-destructive behavior. His lines read like carefully calculated prose from a writer wise beyond their years; something you might find in a book of poetry in a University library. Mavi’s command of the English language seems to greatly stem from his background of formal education at Howard.
In an interview from March of this year with Pitchfork, Mavi stated that he wanted listeners to walk away from his music with an “orientation in space and time”. It is clear from his music that he is not interested in the superficiality and surface-level materialism that is a staple of mainstream hip hop. His work challenges listeners to think beyond themselves. To consider their existence in the scope of the universe rather than in the scope of themselves. The challenging nature of Mavi’s work also extends to social critique. On “Self Love”, another track from Let the Sun Talk, Mavi makes mention of the #MeToo movement:
“And I offer free smoke to any nigga behind a #MeToo/’Cause to my niggas: we ain’t free until she free too/And tell my sisters: we ain’t free until they free too, yeah”
Preaching equality between sexes and standing in direct opposition against those that take advantage of women is a hard thing to do in hip hop. Though, Mavi does exactly this with a degree of authenticity, as to avoid the cliched pitfalls of socially conscious rap.
Upon its release in 2019, Let the Sun Talk made waves in the hip hop community and garnered plenty of praise from critics. It even ended up on many best of the year lists including NPR’s “10 Rap Albums That Raised The Bar(s) In 2019”. Fans and critics alike were in awe of Mavi’s display of talent and social awareness at such a young age.
Check out Mavi’s project Let the Sun Talk on the Spotify link below:
Since his debut Let the Sun Talk, Mavi has contributed to Earl Sweatshirt’s EP Feet of Clay with the track “EL TORO COMBO MEAL” and also dropped the single “SMH”. Mavi is surely an artist to be on the lookout for in the new year. His career has just started and if his debut album tells us anything, it’s that he is a once in a lifetime talent.
Check out the music video Mavi’s dual track “GOOD / SMH” in the link below: