One of the worst things about mainstream vs. underground Hip Hop are the comparisons and standards the latter group’s artists have to deal with. Most aspiring rappers can’t make it “big time” unless there are established rappers that they remind people of. Thankfully, there are those artists who refuse to imitate what’s already out there. Those who prefer to stay true to “their music”. King Mez is one of those artists. The North Carolina MC has been steadily building a reputation for himself on the underground circuit for a few years. He delivers original, personal, heartfelt stories a la’ Kendrick Lamar with the same medium pitch-nasally voice Big Sean has. Even with an impressive catalog, his latest offering “Long Live the King” suffers somewhat from inconsistency.
Some of the songs strongly feel aimless and disjointed. “Can’t Let Go” seems like it starts out as an ode to a female you’d do anything for but ends up speaking on topics such as the black man’s depiction in society, with no clear bridge to connect the different trains of thought. “Swerve” sounds like uninspired filler where one moment King Mez criticizes “on our neck where they got their foot in/ taking away from my culture you never put in/ you leave us out when you talk about bank accounts”; a few seconds later he’s lazily flowing “cops pull me over, cus they say I’m bout to swerve/ so I pull that big body to the curb/ got a bad bitch with me, and we listening to my song/ but she don’t speak english/ so she never sing along with me”, giving me the impression of one of those rappers I assumed he was just denouncing.
Then there are moments where the bars are just plain elementary. Regurgitated boasts of “being a pro/ after my fifth [floor] flow like Bruh Man” on the track “Reggie Miller” and mediocre jewels like “it’s a feeling I don’t really think that yall know/ you report the pain every [Mourning] morning like Alozno” on “Can’t Let Go”. It may seem like King Mez is being judged on a harsh, critical scale. He is! And for good reason. That being, the times where he shines raises the bar so high, it makes those instances where he’s clearly mailing it in unacceptable. “Hydroplane” finds King Mez spitting the type of wisdom filled rhymes that made the early 20s MC stand out in the first place – “If people really listen, 99 percent of the time/ what’s on our heart, would probably be 99 percent of our rhymes/ but most artists more interested in feeding their families, fine/ but the method in which they getting it/ leaving they family blind/ they don’t know it, they kind of feeling heroic/ cus they can pour up the Moet, and they faces be stoic, not worried about a thing”.
He takes that same introspection and lays it out like a modern day Harlem Renaissance poet on the Tyana Reshay assisted “Never Know”, rapping “you never know, the glow a beretta show/ when you shooting at your foe/ but hit the girl that’s only four/ now we surprised, the sound of the letter O/ followed by the word shit, just hoping that it aint so/ cus that aint in your character/ still they gotta bury her/ you took her Christmas Eve, now her family never merry bruh”. “Long Live the King” also excels when King Mez plays with different, experimental vibes. “Flight” is an easy listening song that’s a great fusion of neo soul and house music with a serenading hook sung by Sonya. It could quickly get play on the radio, while never straying away from the deepness that King Mez exudes. “Past the Stars”, with it’s hard hitting drums, backdrop of a operatic but bluesy soul loop, and hook of “things that I want, got me floating pass the stars/ dreams of all this money, all these bitches, all these cars/ where did I go wrong, so much darkness in these lights/ so I’m soul searching, getting lost up in these nights”, is purely hypnotic. Music projects that fall into the 10 -13 songs category can be dangerous. They force the artist to come as strong as possible because the limited amount of tracks leave little to no room for missteps.
“Long Live the King” (with 12 tracks) isn’t all missteps, but unfortunately there are enough that as far as quality, it comes off as a 60- 40 split at best. That isn’t really bad, but King Mez has proven that he’s better than that. Hopefully for his next outing, he ups the ante just a little bit more. That’s all that will be necessary. Check out King Mez on Soundcloud.