Building on the wavy psychedelia of his ‘Beginner’s Luck’ LP and work with Third3ye, this time round Melodownz leans largely towards a soulful boom-bap in his beat selection.
The accompaniment is a perfect backdrop for his warm-hearted stream of consciousness, often offset by an inner tension of street philosophy.
Opener The Anthem (featuring singer Bailey Wiley) could have stepped out of the late ‘90s (as a compliment), but Melo’s relaxed and calming delivery has a vitality which feels both relevant and current.
The warm reception of this single speaks to the resonance of this sound, and the ongoing love for tracks entrenched in the continuum of both local and global hip hop. You can hear his predecessors’ influence, but no doubt Melodownz is a burgeoning artistic voice unto himself.
The swing and tempo of the beats (produced by Baccyard, LightskinJon, Shask, Dusty Melody, Ben Jamin’ and David D’angelo) and the warm low-key engineering from Rizvàn leave the bars front and centre.
This feels like no accident, as from start to finish Melodownz flexes his creativity with flow patterns and wordplay. $on Of A Queen incorporates what sounds like a Pacific haka vibe on the hook, while 2 Sides Of 1 Coin arrives amidst something of a storytelling renaissance from Auckland MCs, and is a standout addition to the canon.
KidultHood closes out the album as a highlight track in two movements.
The final coda is amusingly the most ‘commercial’ sounding part of the release, and I dig the decision to almost hide it in secret song territory. ‘Avontales’ is more fine work from one of Auckland hip hop’s favourite sons