M19’s EP “BLVCKOUT” is a captivating masterwork for the independent artist. The creative uses his lavish skillset to add some theatrical storytelling flair to traditional lyricism that makes it more than just bars streaming through a speaker. The recording does its best to get us to understand more about the artist, his journey, and his craft. Each layer, depth, and stylistic choice adds to our perception of M19’s game plan. The EP is an intoxicating exploration of his artistic strengths, which makes the listening experience even more engrossing because of it. “BLVCKOUT” is tight, cinematic and absolutely impacting – an enveloping universe with a maze of intricate instrumentals and subtle sounds, where M19’s voice never falters. The effect is magical.
So now you may be asking, who is M19? He is an Eritrean-Canadian hip-hop rapper and producer, who was born and raised in the capital city of Canada. M19 grew up in a deeply cultured and socially conscious family, and under the influence of the people, he idolized along the way.
All of which is palpable in his music. He strives to use his music to document his truth, while pushing a message of resilience, awareness, empathy and honor. He has released 14 singles and 8 features, leading up to this project, and has also launched his own merch line called 19theTeam.
EP opener “Legend” – which comes after the “Intro” track, quickly give us something to be immersed in, with its skittering hi-hats, booming bass and stabbing woodwinds forming the foundation for his surefooted delivery.
“Commotion” runs darker and deeper, as M19 unfolds his unfaltering flow. He carefully chooses every word and syllable, contributing to each verse a feeling composed of the highest grade. “Blackout” slides into an almost melodic groove, where the sheer seriousness of the rapper’s delivery enhances the impact of his presence.
“Gassed” runs on a haunting production, as M19 unpacks some deep and introspective thoughts. He sounds both tortured and enchanted. M19’s ability to keep the listener entertained by his delivery in addition to what he is saying, effectively works perfectly.
It gets even better on the slow-burning “Instant”, where M19 again introduces melodic motifs to mesmerize the listener. The EP closer, “Powerlines” unpacks some autobiographical facts as M19 delivers personal experiences and anecdotes on his life and grind, while injecting moments of pride and belonging into his concept.
In an age where lyrical ability and consciousness in hip-hop is becoming more and more irrelevant, the Canadian based rapper is a rarity. M19 actually presents thoughtful ideas through his relentless efficiency and intensity.
He has a lot to say, and he knows exactly how to say it. “BLVCKOUT” is surely a hip-hop recording done right, filled with flair-filled beats and lyricism that is finally worth mentioning amongst the crowded mumble-styled sub-genres, where serious songwriting has seemingly become almost obsolete.
Technical prowess and lyrical complexity are skills hard to come by in the current rap industry, but throughout this EP, M19 reaches for meaning and gravity rather than superficial flexing, showing that he is a rare diamond among stones.