Music Is My Savior

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Having a top rap song on the Billboard charts in 2007 is not exactly an unusual accomplishment. Commendable, yes, but a hit single does not mean that the full-length record will be met with much success, nor necessarily should it be. Fortunately for New York (specifically, 164th Street in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood) MC MIMS follows up his hit "This Is Why I'm Hot" with an album that proves his place on the charts is based on talent as well as luck. MIMS has an advantage over some of his peers because he knows and respects not just old-school hip-hop, but also current trends and his own place in them. He represents the East Coast, and he wants to revive New York's reign ("bring it back it back on top," he says again and again), but he doesn't dismiss what other rappers out there are doing, too. The deceptively simple "This Is Why I'm Hot" demonstrates this well. MIMS raps about his nationwide appeal over hyphy-esque production that alludes to other influential MCs (the synth line from "Ain't Nuthin But a 'G' Thang" added in when he mentions California, the choral entry notes from Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" that play when he "hit[s] the Chi"), MCs that he clearly wishes to compare himself to and that he wishes he could be; he's drawing from other styles to make his own more relevant. The rhymes themselves aren't fantastic here -- MIMS is a lot more impressive in some of his other songs -- but the hook is catchy and easy to remember, and it's a lot of fun: something East Coast rap sometimes forgets to be. The rapper is also able to, like N.Y.C. heroes Nas and Jay-Z, both of whom have clearly influenced him, occupy that space between "thug" and "backpacker," moving between club-friendly, bass-heavy tracks like "They Don't Wanna Play" (which features verses from Bun B and Seed) or "Just Like That" and more reflective and critical songs like "Where I Belong" and "It's Alright." He can focus on the serious, the sentimental, or the fun side of life when he needs to, but he does it all without seeming like he's forcing out a persona. This versatility should make MIMS appeal to the kind of variety of listeners that someone like Jay, Nas, or Kanye can, and if he keeps it up, it should make Music Is My Savior a big step forward for the state of mainstream East Coast hip-hop.

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