20 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mike is among a handful of young rapper-producers—Adé Hakim, Slauson Malone, Pink Siifu, Navy Blue, the list goes on—quietly reshaping underground hip-hop. Hazy, looping, soulful, and abstract, Tears of Joy, his third album in about a year, doesn’t hit so much as it steadily sinks in, with fragments of speech (“Can’t lie, you probably know me ’cause I take crowns”) and hooks (the hypnotic horn refrain of “It’s Like Basketball,” the gorgeous vocal chop of “Planet”) lodging like little mantras or snippets of information that pierce the fog like sunbeams. Often the music doesn’t land on a beat so much as it seems to hover, stalled meditatively in place. That much of the album is a reflection on the passing of Mike’s mother isn’t immediately apparent—his delivery is sleepy, mumbly—but that makes the realization all the more moving: Rather than capture the clarity of what his loss might mean, he explores the confusion of grief, finding plenty of gray with the occasional break in clouds.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mike is among a handful of young rapper-producers—Adé Hakim, Slauson Malone, Pink Siifu, Navy Blue, the list goes on—quietly reshaping underground hip-hop. Hazy, looping, soulful, and abstract, Tears of Joy, his third album in about a year, doesn’t hit so much as it steadily sinks in, with fragments of speech (“Can’t lie, you probably know me ’cause I take crowns”) and hooks (the hypnotic horn refrain of “It’s Like Basketball,” the gorgeous vocal chop of “Planet”) lodging like little mantras or snippets of information that pierce the fog like sunbeams. Often the music doesn’t land on a beat so much as it seems to hover, stalled meditatively in place. That much of the album is a reflection on the passing of Mike’s mother isn’t immediately apparent—his delivery is sleepy, mumbly—but that makes the realization all the more moving: Rather than capture the clarity of what his loss might mean, he explores the confusion of grief, finding plenty of gray with the occasional break in clouds.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.
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