• Sam Fleming


It’s impossible to overstate the influence MIKE has had on the underground New York music scene in the last five years. He has been a driver in helping to revive the creative spirit in the city after almost a decade of mediocrity coming out of the NYC mainstream. MIKE’s music is the heart of what great hip-hop has always aimed to be. He strips back every layer that traditionally masks an artist from their audience. His beats are never clean or punchy, his lyrics are often more muttered than rapped. MIKE never feels like he is performing, instead it feels like he is talking directly to you through his lyrics. As a result, his music gives the listener the chance to hear his thoughts without any moderation. Sometimes this style can be overwhelming, but when his music comes together it hits harder than anything else out there. On MIKE’s newest project, “Weight of the World,” MIKE brings together the best aspects of his past work, creating his warmest and most complete work yet.

There’s something powerful about an artist who is truly willing to speak their mind, and MIKE has brought his unfiltered thoughts to us for as long as he’s been making music. MIKE broke through with his 2017 mixtape MAY GOD BLESS YOUR HUSTLE, and since then his style has evolved to be much more experimental and convoluted. The beats he chooses are often murky, but he manages to flow over them in a way that makes it sound like he becomes one with the beat itself. His more experimental style began to take a more concrete form on last year’s Tears of Joy, a beautiful album that dipped and flowed through a process of grieving. Weight of the World feels like an extension of Tears of Joy. It takes aspects of MIKE's more experimental work and merges them with slightly more accessible beats and song lengths that occasionally stretch beyond three minutes.

Weight of the World gives you the feeling of a cool cloudy day that every once in a while, has a short burst of sun which illuminates the beauty of the world around you. MIKE’s lyrics are mostly introspective and claustrophobic and you rarely get a break from his unrelenting flow. On the song “Iz You Stupid,” MIKE says, “Where was you when I sat in the rain?” This theme of abandonment and solemnity can be seen in almost every track. He constantly chastises himself for helping people out who do not return the favor. As a result, his lyrics often feels jaded on this project. Even its joyful moments are marred by a seeming distrust for the world.

The magic in MIKE’s music still comes in how he chooses to interact with his beats. His flow fills every moment of silence and slips in and out of the beat. His lyrics come in waves that sweep over you and then quickly fade away. He doesn’t switch up his flow much on this project. When he is rapping, he is there to overwhelm. His lyrics shift in and out of emotions, shifting between joy, sadness, and regret in a way that feels honest and allows the listener to connect with the stories that he tells. It also becomes clear throughout the course of the project that much of Weight of the World was written in the last couple of months. On “What’s Home ½” he says, “Before COVID, I been in the yard. Gettin' older and sick of the harm When I'm sober, it kill the regard I be over it, chillin' regardless.”

When MIKE is really on top of his game you can’t even tell he’s rapping. On the song “Weight of The Word*” MIKE has a four-minute conversation with the beat. Sometimes the beat is so loud that it smothers his vocals completely and other times MIKE can’t be ignored, spitting lines like, “say my love is never cheap I had 100 smiles. All couple with deceit, I'm puffin loud.” The theme of abandonment and distrust pops up everywhere throughout this project. In spite of all the joy and growth that MIKE talks about on the project, it is clear that his newfound fame has him doubting those around him.

The most beautiful aspect of this album is MIKE’s honesty, which only seems to grow from album to album. Songs like “Get Rich Quick Scheme” showcase this especially. MIKE says, “I came back from lightin' bridges. I forgot to burn The first stride again bigger, had a loss of thirst. And never idolized a nigga with an office shirt You think I did it for the figures? It was all for her.” With production by KeiyaA, these lyrics show what makes MIKE so magical. His music is creation for the sake of creation, there is no agenda to be anything more than what he is. With each project, the listener gets closer and closer to the heart of what MIKE raps about. We see and hear about how he deals with grief and how relationships change with those around him.

Weight of the World is an incredibly fun album to dig through, and even a week later every listen seems like a completely unique experience. MIKE is still driving the New York hip-hop scene and with every album, his voice matures. Weight of the World showcases MIKE at his most together and focused, but his sound still has room to evolve.

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