Over the last few years, Brooklyn-based artist Medhane has blossomed into one of the most exciting and versatile hip-hop artists working today. His 2019 album Own Pace was among my favourites of that year, and his 2020 project Full Circle is another fantastic project showcasing his range as a producer and emcee. His poignant lyricism about his personal journey through depression and inner growth is brought with intent, as he raps with a confidence and assurance that I feel every single word he spits. On his new album Cold Water, the talented musician continues expanding on his sound with intricate verses about his own state of mind, while delivering a dynamic and varied soundscape throughout the 15 track album.
The introspection and reflection on the opener “Off Tha Strength” featuring the soulful aura of KeiyaA is beautiful, as Medhane meanders through the Ohbliv-produced track with a short and choppy verse about making it out of his own maze and trying to find peace within himself. It’s clear from his previous work that his work is centred around dealing with and fighting depression, and he’s able to highlight his feelings and emotions potently through vivid metaphors around the elements of nature (water, earth, fire and air). On the incredible self-produced (as AFB) “Late,” he says “You cried rivers when i dipped / In that deep water tryna swim / Holdin on to strength lost grip / Movin wit the wind seekin truth within.” These heartfelt words are from someone who is trying to hold on for dear life from the depth of an ocean he can barely swim in. On the Chuck Strangers-produced “Live!”, he states “Image shifted when I looked / Crossed the river took my feelings I pushed / Made a way / Against the grain / Fan the flame thats within / Stay wit my kin.” His vivid imagery through images of water and fire are beautifully put together in a cohesive manner, as he channels so much of his pains in a poetic manner. On “TRS,” produced and featuring Navy Blue, he takes a more conscious tone – “Strong mind / Strong body / Calm spirit / Ancestors talk to me and i listen / Really on a mission / Fuck the judge and the jurisdiction / Empty the prisons / Empty clips with every written.” Navy Blue is exceptional as expected. On “Truth & Soul” he states “Too tall for the frame / Walk thru the rain shit change give thanks / Break the hinges off the gates in my ways / Remember all the days feeling numb / Up till we seen the sun / Turning minutes into months.” He doesn’t fit within the frame of his own life, which to me says that he knows that he’s bigger than and stronger than he may think, breaking free from any rules or in this case hinges that hold the doors to his own gate of life. He defines his own rules for life, finding freedom from the maze of his own mind. It’s that constant struggle within one person’s mind that can drive them into a state of depression, as they’re drowned by their own muddy thoughts. Jadasea captures this feeling brilliantly on his verse on “Watch My Step,” stating “A lot on my mind / It ain’t ever over / Ain’t been sober in over / I feel me getting colder / I feel me getting further / From the things / That I was searching / I feel like nothing was for certain.” It’s this frankness and honesty about being floating further and further away from your own truth make this painfully relatable. Weed is a way to cope for Medhane, and there are plenty of references to that. On the Super Miles & Alexander Spit produced “Na Fr” he states “All this grabba putting scars on my health,” while on the Ohbliv produced “Bun Down Babylon” he states “Spliffs and wine / Why I’m high all the time? / Doing fine / Early mornin when i rise
Steady grind / Know i shine bright.” It helps him find clarity, and is something he highlights and explores on tracks like “Full Hands” with Maxo and “On Me/You.” On the former track, produced by Stoney Willis, he spits “Spinning thru adversity / Letting go of all that burdens me / Hurdling uncertainty / Solid as the earth beneath us / Know the world my teacher/ Seen the plains in the east we was sending peace up.” On the latter track, produced by Bori, he says “Bottle hope now, send it to the sea / Learned to let go, let it be / Memories.” He’s bottling all the traumas and negative emotions he’s had over the years in an attempt to find solace, reminiscing on memories he’s had in the past.
He’s able to convey his emotions and feelings throughout the album with a sense of clarity throughout the entire project. The production throughout is soulful and crisp, as it paints different moods with the help of some of the most exciting and forward-thinking producers working today. Cold Water is an incredible body of work, and shows exactly why he is one of the most respected rappers working today. Go support this mans music.