Mavi is one of the most promising young artists and poets of this generation. He first started releasing music in the 9th grade, and much of his early work came through his membership of the Charlottle rap collective Killswitch. His earliest released tracks are published on Soundcloud, and they go back as far as eight years ago. Mavi was born in Lexington, South Carolina, and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is not uncommon for Mavi to show homage to Charlotte in his music. Some of his earliest influences were Earl Sweatshirt, Noname, and MF Doom (Wickes, theface.com). For several years Mavi was consistently releasing singles and mixtapes. Through this, he was steadily gaining traction within certain circles, and in 2019 his career trajectory changed forever after he released his debut album, Let The Sun Talk. This album was released as Mavi was attending Howard as a neuroscience major. According to a 2022 interview, Mavi mixed and mastered Let The Sun Talk in a close friend’s dorm room and also shot music videos right next to the Howard campus (Trewen, passionweis.com). Upon releasing Let The Sun Talk, he quickly became one of the most talked about figures in underground hip hop. Mavi’s debut album is one of my favorite hip-hop albums of the last five years and one of the best debut albums in recent history. Let The Sun Talk had a very surreal feel while consistently being melancholic, poetic, philosophical, bittersweet, and sentimental. His style is often likened to Earl Sweatshirt, perhaps the most influential figure in the wave of abstract hip hop, or “the slums movement.” The two emcees sound similar at times vocally, and they each have a tendency to showcase introspection, surrealism, vulnerability, and melancholy at times.
Following the release of Let The Sun Talk, Mavi was even featured on Earl Sweatshirt’s 2019 EP Feet of Clay, on the track “El Toro Combo Meal.” Being compared to Earl, I see influence in Mavi’s work rather than imitation. Vocally, Mavi is usually less stoic than Earl and tends to incorporate more melodies into his work, while also displaying more aggression, especially on the tracks “Miracle Baby,” “Ghost,” “Self-Love,’ and “Time Travel.” On these kinds of cuts, Mavi’s style reminds me of old Meek Mill freestyles before he achieved commercial success. There’s a hunger that Meek Mill showcased prior to blowing up that can also be felt with Mavi. There’s a very raw and intense feeling to tracks such as these, even with that, there’s still a strong sense of control he has. Much of Mavi’s rapping emulates prolonged streams of consciousness and is immensely soulful.
In October 2022, Mavi released his second LP, Laughing So Hard It Hurts. This album had a much warmer vibe, and it is more melody focused than Let The Sun Talk. This album definitely has more commercial appeal and showcases some different skills Mavi possesses as an emcee. Along with showcasing some different capabilities, the beat selection was quite different from his last major work. The production is much more warm and lush, and there is more soul sampling. This was one of my favorite albums of 2022, and it seemed to have been met with a much bigger fanbase as several songs of his have surpassed 5 million streams on Spotify, the most streamed being “Love, of Money” which as of May 18, 2023 has 39 million streams. His rapid success is especially impressive given the fact that he is not signed to a major label, and in fact, he is under his own record label, Mavi 4 Mayor. With that being said, I look forward to seeing what comes next from Mavi as he is making way for himself to have a legendary career.