By Thomas Rodriguez
Mavi makes his mark on the underground hip-hop scene with an album that explores the hardship and beauty of existing as an artist and human.
Music, no matter what genre it belongs to, is a lingua franca for the soul: it has the power to move, empower, or make light of the human condition in any setting, whether it be from the highest echelons of the industry, or from the dorm of a Howard University neuroscience student named Omavi “Mavi” Minder. The 20-year old Charlotte-born hip-hop powerhouse unravels the gloss and sheen typical of even some of music’s most unbidden acts, and has taken to his own musical path: a path of brutal honesty, chaos, and a quiet earnestness that creates a beautiful portrait of a young man pushing through life to hear the “sun talk.”
Let the Sun Talk has a unique lifeblood, one that emphasizes the storm within Mavi as he relates his struggles with self-worth, money, and race. “The horror in my story is I’ve been through it/ and I still do it and my pencil is in earnest the difference,” he raps on the soulful “Self Love,” a self-true testament to his young wisdom amidst impactful musings on self-appreciation, hope, and the importance of the “Me Too” movement.
Despite the lo-fi jazz aesthetic and huskiness of his voice, Mavi remains a relatable and thoughtful protagonist as he laments times of darkness on the haunting “chiasma” or describes his heart as a “wallet” on “Love Comma of Money.” The brisk pace of these songs is an emotional rush, building the feeling of a sprint through the mind of someone who has a lot to say in a small space. A whirlwind of words, this record reveals Mavi’s inner demons and true dexterity as a rapper.
Let the Sun Talk is more than just the title of the record, it’s a mantra that appears in several contexts throughout Mavi’s bars. While the meaning itself implies living for the future and maintaining hope that we can “see it all clearer” one day, it seems to carry a weight that exceeds a simple hopeful message. Mavi acknowledges his own faults on the self-analytic tracks “Moonfire” and “Omavi,” while simultaneously remaining confident in himself and his abilities as an artist.
Monstrous verses arrive in the form of deft internal rhymes and turns of phrase on tracks like “Eye/I and I/Nation,” while social commentary runs thick through the violent imagery of “Ghost (In the Shell).” Mavi paints a truly realistic portrait of the human condition: we know some things, but hell knows if we know that much of anything else. Mavi hangs onto himself through his abilities and worldly wisdom, resorting to distortion and thought-provoking interludes to portray confusion and truth in a setting that clashes, but manages to remain beautiful.
“Terms and Conditions,” the opener of Let the Sun Talk, is a perfect mission statement for Mavi as an artist on this album: it remains odd and lo-fi in terms of sound, but deeply ties to the soul as it puts a human touch on a story of the sun and moon meeting. Let the Sun Talk is a deep look into the psyche of a sage, quiet, and talented young man, one who seems to understand the feelings of anyone growing up in a harmful, scary, or lonely environment. His bars remain simultaneously scary but triumphant, beautiful, and horrifying, just as life tends to be. As we continue pushing forward, Mavi’s waiting to let the sun talk, and we are too.