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MIKE Expresses a “Burning Desire” to Refine Himself (Album Review)

This is the 5th full-length LP from Livingston, New Jersey emcee MIKE. Breaking out in 2015 off his debut mixtape Winter New York, he would continue to make a name for himself by churning out 4 more tapes as well as his previous 4 albums & 8 EPs full of amongst the finest abstract hip hop that you’ll hear within the last decade. Standouts include May God Bless Your HustleWar in My Pen & even the collab effort with Wiki from last month Faith is a Rock entirely produced by The Alchemist. So considering the latter, I was highly looking forward to Burning Desire.

After the “Intro with Klein”, the first song “Dambe” truly sets off the album with a cloudily self-produced instrumental dreaming of taking over the city much like one of the greatest movies of all-time Scarface whereas “Zap!” works in a glossier sound so dude can show off his hypnotizing aura. “African Sex Freak Fantasy” goes into industrial turf for about 75 seconds talking about how there ain’t nothing like him talking tough on some g shit that us until “Snake Charms” hooks up a soul sample discussing the loneliness he feels after being unable to glow where he fit it.

Earl Sweatshirt’s guest appearance on “Plz Don’t Cut My Wings” is my favorite off the LP as they hop on top of a symphonic beat to pleading to not have their wings cut off at all but then after the “Real Love” interlude, “U Think Maybe?” fuses elements of soul & jazz getting on the romantic side of things conceptually. “Zombie” returns to the cloudy boom bap telling everyone that you can imitate his still even though they’ll never thank him for it, but then “Set the Mood” gives off a psychedelic edge to the beat getting the fun started.

“Billboards” has these incredible guitar licks throughout the instrumental talking about seeing how it is now that he’s made it to the charts these days hanging out with some bigger names while “‘98” dives back into jazz rap turf boasting that eyes stay dilated because of the za that he blazes. “Do You Believe?” though gives off a hazier sound declaring himself to be the outlet & that he be around while the title track gives off a mellower vibe musically looking back on those who used to say he was buggin’ & seein’ numbers now.

To start the 2nd leg album of the album, “They Don’t Stop in the Rain” gives off a warmer feeling to the beat talking about how people tried to switch up on him & betray him while “Baby Jesus” flips another soul cut talking about how idle minds turn into demons after running around for a significant amount of time. “Ho-Rizin’” brings back the synths telling everyone of the kinda women he has while “Mussel Beach” featuring El Cousteau & Niontay cinematically talking about his heart broken realizing she only loved him for the paper.

“16s” has this melodic vocal loop staying yo to write verses nonstop & after the “Should Be!” interlude, the piano-driven “What U Say U Are” talking about how he needs to take a deep breath. Larry June has my 2nd favorite feature on the album with “Golden Hour” over a high-pitched flip both spitting charismatically. After the “Playtime” interlude, “Have a Ball” ends the LP in a bluesy fashion saying he doesn’t need to decide when not fighting fair.

Now for those of you who’re new to MIKE coming fresh off Faith is a Rock, then there’s no doubt that you’ll come away from Burning Desire enjoying it as much if not more than that collaborative LP we just got from him a month ago. He covers some new themes in the conscious abstract fashion that he’s known for with his production refining his experimental hip hop, jazz rap & cloud rap styles.

Score: 8/10



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