If I were to sum up Beware of theMonkey by 25-year-old rap artist MIKE, it would simply be “refreshing”. Released on December 21, 2022, at the end of last year, this album flew under my radar until I was recently shown a song from the album titled No Curse Lifted on TikTok, which, to my surprise, was music to my ears. From that moment on, I made it my mission to listen to his latest work and get familiar with his artistry. The 13-song album was a breath of fresh air and reminded me of similar artists such as Earl Sweatshirt and MAVI. Even with these comparisons, MIKE is still able to pave his own path and set himself apart from his peers.
Upon first listen, I was amazed by the soul sampling, background vocals, piano usage and the overall tone of MIKE’s voice and lyrics. The ability to chop up a sample is not a new thing in the rap industry and Beware of the Monkey definitely took advantage of this art form. The best example of this on the album is the song “nuthin i can do is wrng.” The song samples Forrest’s disco/soul record “I Just Want To Love You” from his 1983 album One Lover. The cool aspect of sampling older songs is that it has the ability to introduce a listener to another artist, and it can feel like a huge Eureka moment when you finally hear the specific part that was used to be sampled. Producers such as The Alchemist, 9th Wonder, Madlib and Knxwledge have made careers from this type of sample production, just to name a few.
Outside of production, MIKE’s voice is unique. The pockets MIKE chooses to flow into go hand-in-hand with the production. The reason MIKE received the Earl Sweatshirt comparison stems from his flow, lyrics and a similar feel when I tune into his music. I am reminded of early Earl records such as “Solace,” “Wind in my Sails,” “AM/Radio” and “Knight.” I would love to recommend the entire album from MIKE, but the standout songs for me are “nuthin i can do is wrng,” “Ipari Park,” “Swoosh 23,” “Tapestry” and “What Do I Do?”. If you are in search of a nice, calming, chill album or artist, then MIKE is what you have been looking for. I never would have thought I would have been put into an artist through TikTok, but MIKE is a special case.
MIKE will undoubtedly remain in my music rotation for the foreseeable future. With me being a new fan myself and being impressed with the work I’ve heard so far, I believe MIKE will gain many more fans, either from TikTok or just music listeners randomly finding him on Spotify or Apple Music. They say the best things in life find you, and I am glad I was stuck in the wormhole of TikTok videos just in time to find the unforgettable rap artist MIKE.
Here is a link to his album and the sampled song “I Just Want To Love You,” by recording artist Forrest.
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