We’ve lived through many different eras in rap. B-boy, Backpack, Gangster and Crunk to name a few. Now we’re in the Trap era where melodies and auto-tune reign supreme. Bars have taken a backseat to cadence. Production seems to supersede bars. A far cry and stark contrast from the days of Nas, Big L and Jay-Z.
Enter Abel Meri. The DMV-bred MC brings a lyrical acumen and socially conscious perspective reminiscent of Common and Black Thought. Going against the trend of the moment, Abel remains true to his artistic sensibilities by giving listeners his perspective, his way.
In addition to several singles, Abel has released three notable EPs in 2020; “Smooth”, “TNSZ – The No Skip Zone and most recently “#BLM”, an insightful social commentary on civil rights set against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement. More than just a hashtag though, “#BLM” delves deeper into social injustice that is fortified by a discriminatory justice system and skewed socioeconomic conditions.
At a time of heightened civil unrest in America, art has the potential to elevate the voices of the oppressed and unheard. Artists like Killer Mike and TI have been very vocal in expressing the need for drastic social reform, while artists like YG have incorporated socially conscious messaging into their album artwork. When asked what he thinks artists can do to contribute towards positive change in these worrisome times, Abel said “artists have a responsibility and an opportunity to positively impact the world through their art and their platform, and I’m just trying to do my part.”
Rap music has always offered unfiltered social commentary, although the messaging may have been too extreme for the masses at the time. Songs like NWA’s 1988 song ”F___ tha Police” captured the raw emotions and visceral frustration of people living in underprivileged neighborhoods across the country. Looking back now, that song was an ominous foreshadowing present day sentiments and events. In “#BLM”, Abel manages to articulate those same frustrations in a fresh and updated way.
The four track EP provides a powerful and timely expression of widely held views as evident in the global protests amidst the death of George Floyd.
In the song “Black Lives Matter” (produced by Progression Music), Abel openly discusses cause and effect, connecting the dots over soulful instrumentation.
The track “Black Male” (produced by Jay Mark Beats) takes listeners on an upbeat ride down memory lane, with Abel citing several cases of police-related deaths of unarmed black males using a catchy and clever hook “blackmail for a black male.”
On the track “Insight Out”, Abel skillfully asks and answers rhetorical questions that when sequenced together, really crystalize the mosaic for a powerful and indefensible account of the facts.
Staying true to his 90s-era artistic essence, “Real Rap”, rounds out the project with a soulfully chopped instrumental by Mike Vince that solicits an immediate, reflexive head nod. Abel delivers a smooth and polished flow that is sure to make Nas proud.
At a time when lyrics have been devalued and simplified, “#BLM” offers a refreshing dose of thoughtful songs at a time when it’s needed.