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Photo Credit: Stereogum

Maxo, a highly regarded underground rapper hailing from Los Angeles known for his introspective rhymes, abstract concepts, and collaborations with artists such as Earl Sweatshirt, The Alchemist, Liv.e, and Navy Blue released his debut LP, Even God Has a Sense of Humor on 2/22/2023. The artists featured on this album include: singer/producer: Liv.e, rapper/producer: Pink Siifu, singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist: KeiyaA, and iconic producers Madlib, and Karriem Riggins.

Maxo has released three EPs in the last eight years, and these include: After Hours (2015), SMILE (2018), and Lil Big Man (2019). I thoroughly enjoyed Lil Big Man, and I have consistently had this tape on repeat for much of 2022. I had been looking forward to new material from him for awhile.With this new LP, Maxo doesn’t necessarily reinvent himself, or debut many new styles, but this album is more neo-soul infused than his prior projects, and this was one of my favorite qualities about the project. While his style doesn’t change very drastically, Maxo incorporates more singing, and he improves upon his most notable attributes as an emcee. This feels like his most complete work to date.

Maxo is one of the most introspective and vulnerable artists in hip hop right now, and these are the qualities that make him one of my favorite artists in the genre. With Even God Has a Sense of Humor, every track feels very personal, and each track is infused with emotion both sonically and lyrically. Some of these tracks feel like intimate conversations with God, with Maxo pouring his heart out through prolonged streams of consciousness. With my first listen, I did not take away all that much lyrically, given the abstract nature of his lyrics. With each listen there is more that is revealed to the listener, this album has several layers that must be unpeeled for it to be fully understood. While I didn’t have any particular moments on this album where I was completely blown away, other than on “Like I Don’t See U.” I really did enjoy this project, and I definitely see myself coming back to it regularly.

This album felt gloomy, warm, and colorful throughout the 14 tracks. The production was top notch, and had a very cinematic feel to it. I can’t say this album has any skips, or any major flaws. The quality of the album does not really peak at any point, but having said that, my favorite song is the outro track “Like I Don’t See U.” In no particular order, my favorite tracks are: “Like I Don’t See U,” “Nuri,” “Onedayatatime”, “Both Handed,” and “Face of Stone.” I can see this project being one of the top hip hop albums of 2023, and it is my favorite album that has been released in 2023 up until this point. This is Maxo’s best work to date, 4.5/5.

Written by: Kyle Jonke