Album Review: King Mez- “My Everlasting Zeal” (Release: June 2012)
An area that doesn’t get too much national attention as having a strong presence in the hip hop community is North Carolina, and making much noise recently from NC is 22-year-old emcee King Mez. In fact, Mez has been at this for awhile. I first became aware of him as one half of the rhyming duo, The Lazeretto Crew, before really getting a taste for his skills as the lead emcee on his 2010 release with producer Commissioner Gordon, The Paraplegics. It was a project strong enough that back then anyone could’ve easily thought the then 20-year-old Mez had next.
Over the following two years King Mez released the highly touted The King’s Khrysis EP, along with a barrage of solid features and well received singles. Those only had more people, especially resident NC hip hop fans, convinced that Mez was poised to make noise on a national level at a volume similar to hometown heroes Little Brother and J. Cole before him. So when I talked with King Mez in December and he said that watching his debut album develop made his past music seem almost mediocre to him, I knew My Everlasting Zeal would be a project I’d have to lend an ear to.
As an answer to the anticipation, Mez delivered a titanium-shielded-bulletproof-Hummer-solid project with his debut album. Though the self-produced “Reign”, J. Cole-produced “The Allure” and Commissioner Gordon-crafted “Monte Carlo” were the singles that got people excited for the album, the entire product is one to listen to from track 1-14 without skipping songs to get to the good parts.
Of course, as with any (at least decent) album, there are high points, the pinnacle of which is “Timely Fashion,” positioned fittingly toward the beginning of the album at track three. If there’s one thing you could always depend on from King Mez, it’s been strong bars. However, in the past, songs with long verses and underdeveloped structures made a listener like me question how well Mez would be able to craft well put together songs that could appeal to a wide range of people. Well, “Timely Fashion” is convincing evidence that he’s more than capable. His ability to effortlessly rhyme in perfect sync with the beat, along with the addition of the horns and supporting vocals in each chorus, make this perhaps the most complete song in Mez’s catalog, and a candidate to have listeners stuck hitting replay. Props go to 11 20 on the production.
Mez also does right in being selective with his features. The only rapping you’ll hear on My Everlasting Zeal is from Mez himself, while most of the features are from singers, which help to create those complete, structured songs that bring in different elements. It’s just the right balance of other voices so that you don’t get sick of hearing Mez for 49 minutes straight. Let’s face it, no matter how great the words are, that’s a long time for one voice (i.e. graduations). The standout feature comes from Novakane, of the North Carolina-based poetry group, the Sacificial Poets. ‘Kane gets a whole track to himself in “Highness” for an epic spoken word description of the mentality of a soon-to-be king, which serves as an intro to “Reign.”
Weaved through and in between those benchmarks are the complex and authentic lines regular listeners have come to expect from Mez. New word play that reveals itself increasingly with each listen means that My Everlasting Zeal isn’t an album to bore easily (ex. “they love a G, P.S. I ain’t never lost”). As a comparison for those less familiar with King Mez, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar are two influences that jump out at you in several lines throughout the album. Mez also avoids the “rapping just to rap” trap by speaking on topics such as his respect for women in tracks like “The Queen” and “Tonight,” and sticking to the theme of his ascension to royalty throughout the project. The biggest issue might be that he put all the effort into his debut album for it to be a free download.
Rating: 4/5 Steps 2 Words: Must Listen