Take Me to Your Leader

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Mention that Mayday are a socially conscious rap-rock band and all of a sudden Take Me to Your Leader sounds like a stern order, but they probably just want to talk to the dude or dudette and lay out their layered argument. The Miami-based crew's third effort is a welcome respite from the usual "rap + guitar = aggressive anger," and while cuts like the opening "Badlands" and the twitchy highlight "Everything's Everything" are just that, "Roaches" is a surprising shuffler, reflecting the speedy and silent movement of its insectual namesake while using the bug's life as a metaphor for today's society. "R.E.M." could have fallen off Raphael Saadiq's Stone Rollin' while the whirling "Devil on My Mind" might have twirled off some '70s Santana album, but these soulful musical flavors are just the hook. What resonates after numerous listens are the heavyweight lyrics, combining street style and a genuine love of city life with hopes for a better tomorrow along with some hard truths. "Shades on my face, DC's on feet/Walkin' through the dirt, cuz there's disease in the streets" shows you can be super steezy and socially aware at the same time, while elsewhere, "Highs & Lows" harshes the mellow with "Feels like I'm safer blowing smoke than giving a f*ck." Two tracks jointly share the album's boldest moment, as "Due in June" and "June" are both delivered from the viewpoint of a fetus facing an abortion. While on one cut the unborn pleads for its life, on the other the fetus is suicidally for the idea, especially after considering the world in which it will live. That can't be written off as simply pro- or anti- anything, and Mayday wind up a question everything band, including the genre of rap-rock, which many had written off as an artistic wasteland. That said, the already "heavy" Take Me to Your Leader is an intimidating 19 tracks long, making the B+ material sound much more cumbersome than it should, but if you care about innovative, thoughtful, fringe music that's well played with challenging lyrics, jump over these hurdles, right now.

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