Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
It’s ironic that Atlanta rapper/singer ILOVEMAKONNEN isn’t a part of Drake’s OVO Sound label anymore, because his latest EP Fun Summer 17 has all the formulas and musical chemistry to make it one of that label’s biggest summer releases. Following artistic and professional dissatisfaction between the artist and the label after the release of first two self-titled albums, the artist moved over to Warner Bros. Records and released Drink More Water 6. Even as refreshed as he sounded on that release, he claimed to be retiring from the business last year to focus on acting, only to come back with a single shortly after. After coming out Twitter in January, MAKONNEN sounds as confident as ever on Fun Summer 17, currently a SoundCloud exclusive.
It’s interesting that this is the artist’s first release since announcing he is gay, because all the lyrics in the song are directed towards women in the way of relationship and love. The listener can’t help but beg the question: is MAKONNEN really gay? Is he using the word to (in a positive light) generalize the concept of sexuality and gender? It’s the David Bowie effect – leaving your fans clueless as to what you really are. This idea is best represented on the musically addicting “Line 2”, where he talks about his old and new girls. Perhaps it’s the same reason he says “I don’t tell you how I feel” on the quick and painless opener “Killing Me”.
Regardless of what you think he might mean, MAKONNEN really just wants you to know he’s at the top of his game. On “SUPER CHEF 2” he playfully reaffirms his status as one of hip-hop’s most unique voices. “I’m steady counting paper that fall from the trees”, he raps under a crisp sounding, refreshing beat on “Paper Trees”, as he again reaffirms the ambiguity of his sexuality – “Damn, they say ‘MAKONNEN you the gay man’/Holy shit, you know I get paid, man”. Directly after, on the slick and slippery “Dark Blue”, he claims again that “I got a new girl and a new crew”.
Let’s talk a little more about the music on the EP. There’s the classic element of trap music on Fun Summer 17 but it capitalizes on the “Fun” in the title. The beats twist and turn through a variety of sounds, including bells and xylophones that sound like they’re being played underwater and perfectly pitched snares, and it’s all topped off with the singer’s beautiful drone. MAKONNEN’s vocals are in tip-top shape as he weaves his way through multiple octaves and registers, but it’s really most affective when he’s sing-rapping, like on the dim-lit “Kiss For Me”.
“I’m the shit for real/You know I closed another deal” – and yes he did. ILOVEMAKONNEN’s Fun Summer 17 is just that: a shimmering summer anthem that is guaranteed to be heard blasting from low-riding sub-woofers this season. It succeeds due to it’s calm confidence and the sure-footedness of its star. Like all the best rappers and hip-hop artists, MAKONNEN is able to thrust the listener beyond the surface of himself with his revealing bars and his passionate yet beautifully plain vocals.