“You know the style unorthodox /Low-key it’s time for Ragnarok” – and if you still don’t get it, “Go peep the catalogue”. This morning, MEAN released his latest transmission into the world. It’s remarkable for a number of reasons. For one, it features production from visionary London producer kidkanevil, who provides a weapons-grade beat for MEAN’s dashing menace to ride over. And that’s the basis of the kicker: This is MEAN’s best song yet.
For every massively played radio-ready rap single oozing fake-depth and fake-grit, there’s a real one that emanates its own sui generis energy. “Fall Out” belongs to the class of the latter. Both narrative and composition make it an antidote – a disruption – to the biblical flood of frictionless, softball fare. It’s a creature of contrasts: Rarely do elegant, kaleidoscopic beats mesh so well with a hard-as-diamonds flow – and this happens from the very start. A rubbery synth line is the catalyst for everything here. The precision and beauty with which the twinkling pings coincide with the song’s hook, “ball out”, is truly impeccable. Rarely are there songs these days – rap songs, for that matter – with outros that can stand as tracks on their own merit. And while there’s a speaker-rattling rumble of bass, it never gets in the way. This is a cool, calm, calculated attack –“Tell ’em haters better fall out”.
Collaborative tracks are always a tricky proposition. There’s always the risk of the dilution of either or both elements in service of a unified statement. But this doesn’t happen here. The chemistry between MEAN and kidkanevil is palpable; there’s no doctrinal difference to flounder over. You can tell that both producer and rapper are perfectly aligned. The latter has legacy of next-levelism to his name and the former is one of local hip-hop’s most brightly burning beacons. The lightning in a bottle here is that kidkanevil has furnished the most vivid backdrop for MEAN to showcase his most potent and head-turning charm: That composed-but-crushing delivery.
This writer is more than aware that honouring something as ‘best’ is a minefield in itself. But what if you encounter evidence this undeniable? In the inmost reaches of this deluxe weave of beats, bass and purposeful – i.e. lived – pronouncements, beats a resolve that comes from a larger musical and emotional power. Ambition is eternal in rap – that’s why this song is integral.