I challenge anybody to find a harder working group of three in the music industry than ¡MAYDAY!
A band that has evolved in personnel involved almost as much as they have in genres they infuse – Strange Music’s ¡MAYDAY! is the most underrated, undervalued act in music.
Finding the perfect combination of vibes – the current three homies seem to be reaching exactly what ¡MAYDAY! has always been meant to be. The two MCs, Bernz and Wrekonize, have undeniable chemistry and I have always been drawn to their unique bond that comes across so evidently in the sonic expressions that they create together.
With Wrekonize’s melodic range but low-key savagery, Bernz’s thought-provoking commentary, and laid back demeanor, coming to life alongside NonMS’s vibrant percussions–verbally silent but soulfully essential–this is the group’s 10 year anniversary since Tech N9ne first signed the band to his independent label back in 2011.
In many ways, Minute to Midnight could be the group’s greatest hits compilation with inspiration from past projects found all throughout, if it wasn’t for the fact that these were all brand new songs, it’d be hard to believe that ¡MAYDAY! has gotten better, more consistent, and more “¡MAYDAY!” than ever before.
The band has always been aware that they don’t benefit from streaming algorithms and search optimizations. They have always aimed to enhance their sound–not the sound of the genre, or label, that they represent. It seems that this mindset is fairly uncommon, for whatever reason, perhaps it’s the same reason that only 5% of people actually achieve the goals that they had set out to accomplish, another 5% are beyond broke, and 90% are all identical…to…each other?
Regardless, Minute to Midnight is made up of 17 tracks that pack groovy, passionate, calculated, experienced, meaningful, breezy vibes into an enjoyable, worthwhile ride.
The title track begins after a brief countdown intro flows you into your seat. Wrekonize’s captivating flow echoes above a stripped-back synth that slowly builds, adding some light percussion before fully bringing in the bass and rest of the band right as Bernz takes the handoff and helps us now understand that we’ve arrived. Strap in.
The reggae vibes that reached their peak in 2018’s South of 5th immediately find their place in the third track of Minute to Midnight, “Make Noise,” a needed reminder to never let yourself be drowned out or stay knocked down.
The energy gets real fun in “See You Smile” with an unintentionally-familiar bass line that you’ll recognize anyway from the catchy backing in “So Fresh, So Clean” by Outkast (who actually got that sample from Joe Simon’s “Before the Night is Over” but maybe we’ll save that for a future Throwback piece?).
The album reaches a beautiful peak nearly halfway in with the most quintessential ¡MAYDAY! track (so far) “Golden Hour.” A commentary on life’s beautiful possibilities and opportunities–but also limitations–communicated through a metaphor that highlights the sun’s final shining moments of any given day.
Feel-good, catchy, groovy, laid back, positive, heartfelt, introspective, and inspirational, it’s everything ¡MAYDAY! stands for, strives to be, and represents in one song. “Golden Hour” is by far the biggest highlight (among many) of this album.
Personal favorites of the second half include “All In,” a more verbally aggressive banger that brings in fellow Strange-artist Ubi (one-half of Ces Cru) and spreads flames throughout. Somehow “Let You Tell It” combines the reggae vibes of South of 5th with the smooth-easiness of its predecessor in 2017’s Search Party, along with the electronic intensities of 2015’s Future Vintage. This flows straight into “Flatline,” which feels like we went back to the raw, OG ¡MAYDAY! era with the style from 2012’s Take Me To Your Leader and even 2010’s (pre-Strange Music) Stuck on an Island.
The album finishes with the hyper-intense and opinionated “Foul Out” that brings that jacked-up, ADHD kid-on-crack type energy, commanding your attention just to deck you in the face for giving it. Yet, this feels necessary in order to process what we’ve just experienced and what has now left us, once again leaving us with all we have ever had: Ourselves.
It’s tough to make the claim that this is my favorite ¡MAYDAY! album thus far, but it’s also hard not to. A catalog packed with so many great jams, I think we should just feel grateful that these three still feel inspired enough to continue to create as much as they do and in a way that only they can provide to the world.
Long live independent art.
Long live rock n roll.
And long live ¡MAYDAY!
Check out Minute to Midnight now playing on all platforms and, as always, stay Strong! 🤘