Mavi: Laughing so Hard, it Hurts Album Review

Mavi hoped to follow up her acclaimed debut in 2019, let the sun speakwith a record called Shango, which the 23-year-old rapper has called “a very manly, muscular album” and which was ultimately shelved. In its place came first the slightly tortured EP. end of the earthlaunched early last year, and now soft polling laughing so hard it hurts, a record whose raw nerve endings sizzle and burst to make even its most weary verses seem animated by a desire for satisfaction, for harmony. It is intimate in layout, with Mavi’s frequently muffled voice bringing the listener’s ear closer to the speaker, but expansive in scope: its opening track is named after a folk hero of American slavery, and its closing track traces career paths. through his native Charlotte, North Carolina that are “carved out of the small part of [his] back.” Languid in parts, but never too long—its 16 songs run just over 38 minutes—laughing so hard it suggests a state of zen that is pierced and then resealed in an endless loop.

It would be tempting to collapse Mavi’s style on the Earl Sweatshirt/MIKE scene that has been so popular and prolific over the past five years. And while she shares many qualities with those rappers, in the past she has affected similar voices both before and after.some rap songs Earl, and his taste for production leans toward the jagged and seemingly unfinished:laughing so hard features an astonishing number of vocal styles and melodic ideas. That aforementioned whisper, heard especially on tracks like “Doves,” invites tantalizingly ambiguous readings, sounding sometimes seductive and sometimes embarrassing confession. He is desperate on the tender “My Good Ghosts” and cautious despite the exuberant beat on “Opportunity Kids”; Elsewhere, on “Spoiled Brat,” the way Mavi allows the last line of each phrase to play out in a song turns a simple detail (“I’m glad I’ve wash my hands”) into a maxim.

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Dylvinci and Wulf Morpheus combine to provide roughly half of the album’s beats, with contributions from monte booker, Jacob Rochester, and longtime collaborator ovrkast, among others. As with Mavi’s voice, the music is loaded with invention. let the sun speak it was originally uploaded to SoundCloud as a single 32-minute track; while the palette here is brighter and a bit more polished, laughing so hard it retains the feeling of overlapping and overlapping of different musical directions. Not exactly the sludgy, self-consciously lo-fi production that spills over from the New York underground, nor the ostentatiously technical post-post-post-Dilla trickery that dominates other corners, but a welcome hybrid of the two where the exuberance and fragility. on beats, like Rochester’s “The Inconvenient Truth,” that are both rough and delicate. Mavi, who wrote most of the album with melodic demos with no drums programmed over them, navigates those grooves with a dexterity that never stands out, but is surprising on inspection.

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