The liberation of black people and the empowerment of black communities through the cultivation of a culture that embraces free expression and the advancement of knowledge, wisdom and understanding is central to Mavi’s art and life in general. Paraphrasing the opening piece on his 2019 debut let the sun talk, Mavi’s continuous strive for that liberation is what makes his art and growth so beautiful. I’m not really one to directly comment and talk on the black experience, but just immersing myself in his music, I’ve become enamored by his pure and poetic lyricism, drawing inspiration from his contemporaries and black educators from the past and present. There’s a lot to learn from his poetry as well. Going back to his 2017 project no roses, you could really hear the weights of his words, as his navigates through his young life, reflecting on his own state of mind and bringing potent observations that relate to him and the health and well-being of his peers. It’s inspiring seeing him grow into a more polished storyteller and wordsmith, something he highlighted ever so well on let the sun talk.
END OF THE EARTH feels like an extended stream of consciousness, a soulful 5-track EP that continues that level of introspection and thoughtfulness I have come to love about Mavi’s music. The cover is inspired by Shel Silverstein’s 1974 collection of poems and writings Where The Sidewalk End, and listening to the project for the first time, the connection between Shel’s work became clearer to me. The soulful and ethereal tone of the project, led by the incredibly lush, textured and beautiful production makes it quite an animated and engaging listen. On the Aloisius-produced “TIME TRAVEL” Mavi talks about the importance of black ownership, proclaiming “I can’t write all the time cause I can’t lie
I put a price on this shit cause it’s all mine / They tell you ownership ain’t everything but bro just try / Without that safety button, corduroy brunt to bear come alive”. The importance of ownership and reclaiming what is rightfully his, also in the wider context what belongs to black folks not only in the US but around the world is central to his message on this track. The opening lyric to the Isaac-produced “THOUSAND MILES” is such a potent one. “Man,
Another hundred thousand miles, another step / I saved up for sum but now it’s nothin’ left”. Racial progress is painfully slow, and for every thousand miles gone, there’s just one single step of progress. Mavi is more animated on the Nephew Hesh-produced “METHODS”, perfectly capturing the urgency of his message and the dynamic tone of his music. The KEEM.THE.CIPHER-produced “LIFE WE LIVE” is a contemplative track that brings introspection into his own state of mind, the fact that he sees clout chasers and fake behaviour within his community, among other things of course. The closing track “TOWN CRIER” (produced by Aloisius) is an incredible one, with an ethereal soundscape devoid of an actual beat that brings an emotive and reflective ending to this incredible project. He speaks candidly about his own imperfections, also examining the sobering reality of every day life – “Prove to me the nihilistic drifter under the hood is not the real Mavi / I️ just need to feel proper / Talkin’ killed my zeal glossy I️ can get a lil’ toxic / I️ just need a lil’ logic / Somethin’ I️ can bind to”. Knowing so much about the corrupted and dangerous world around him, he centers himself one last time, showing a growth and maturity in dealing with his own struggles. It’s a striking listen that sounds like an emphatic spoken-word piece that flows beautifully over the light and angelic production. The ending is so poignant, as he repeats “I don’t really think it’s shit I could do” before just repeating “I don’t really think”. It sounds both like a moment of desperation, yet a moment of clarity. Individual change only works to an extent. Collective organisation that leads to change is the way forward, and he takes the perspective of someone who feels alienated by the reality that surrounds him, with a desperate need to want to improve his and his community’s standard of life, bringing opportunity and prosperity.
Mavi though is on a path of of internal growth, displaying that through his matured songwriting and his bluntness throughout. END OF THE EARTH represents him at the edge civilization, alienated by the current socio-political and socio-economic situation both within his own community and the wider context of life for black people worldwide. Home, which is still Charlotte for him, is a vital piece to the jigsaw that paints his own perspective and growth as well. It’s a sobering listen, and one that highlights Mavi’s skills as a storyteller, educator and poet. Despite it being only 5 tracks long, the EP packs a lot of incredibly important themes and observations that sound so important at this point in life. This feeling of detachment from reality also as a form of escapism, and centering his attention on the people that truly matter in his life, his home, is his idea of peace amidst all the craziness that surrounds him. It’s a terrific listen and definitely one to internalise for some time to come.