(Jenke Records, digital download)
Rumor has it within the music industry that the tighter the pants the musician wears, the longer the sound check will last. In the baggy-pantsed world of hip-hop, that sometimes means MCs won’t even show up. When it comes to Burlington’s Mavstar — aka Marek Lorenc — I suspect he would be there early. The MC holds a degree in music theory and composition and plays clarinet for Burlington’s Setup City.
Mavstar’s debut, The Meltdown, is delivered with conviction and mindfulness, unlike many commercial successes in the genre. It’s closer to conscious Hip-hip group Atmosphere than the Wu-Tang Clan, but offered in a more youthful way. Considering the welcoming nature of conscious hip-hop within the Burlington music scene, Mavstar is a good fit. The record’s overall vibe reflects a creative sketchbook of personal expression, with predictable but fluid rhymes and imaginative textures.
The Meltdown opens with “Spoken Feel,” a reflection of the world as Mavstar sees it. It’s not novel, but his thoughts on disillusionment bloom with humility and intimacy throughout.
Mavstar samples the catchy music from the ’80s beat-’em-up Nintendo game Double Dragon. Although juvenile bravado peppers the album, his words hit you more like a round from a water gun than a Glock.
“Alone in My Adobe” has a laid-back tone as the MC tunes in his voice to the frequencies of Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.
The album’s title track is its most cohesive, with the kind of atmospheric textures introduced by the Wu-Tang Clan in the early ’90s. Here Mavstar modestly declares, “Every time you blink, I reconstruct my whole method.” It’s a line that could describe his varied approach to this debut release.
“Many Days I Wonder” embraces the organ tones found in retro soul. A persistent loop combined with intermittent rhythmic breaks set the song in a mellow, flowing motion. The mechanisms behind the track meld smoothly, and Mavstar uses samples sensibly. Aided by local MC Basic Brains, the song is consistent and unified.
“Liquid” demonstrates the album’s more atmospheric elements. It also presents Mavstar’s honest expressiveness, such as in the phrase “Don’t take me too literally when I spit it.” That sentiment holds true throughout the record. Just when you think Mavstar has crossed the verbally audacious line, a closer listen assures you of his intent.
Mavstar’s The Meltdown is available for free download at mavstar.bandcamp.com.