Underrated Albums of 2020, Vol. 3: MIKE – weight of the world

The Bronx-bred lyricist presents us with an extremely cerebral album dealing with depression, grief and the emotional aftermath of losing his mother.

Carrying the weight of the world on one’s shoulders can be a crushing burden, but since his teenage years, MIKE has been doing just that. Born Michael Jordan Bonema, the 22-year-old lyricist is a pioneer in the underground lo-fi hip hop scene, all the while delivering some of its most emotionally resonant, introspective and prolific works to date.

With weight of the world, MIKE delivers yet another extremely personal, transparent and cerebral experience that continues this trend. As always, the Bronx-born MC wears his heart on his sleeve, exploring his anxieties, depression and the emotional toll that the loss of his mother has taken on him.

It’s this emotional weight that MIKE carries with him that he masterfully conveys through his lyrics, crafting immensely impressive verses that are as intriguingly poetic and abstract as they are emotionally impactful. In just a few words, he’s able to effectively encapsulate some of his most visceral feelings and agonizing memories in ways so visual that it plays like a movie scene for the listener. This is exemplified on “222,” as MIKE rifles through his dealings with substance abuse and depression, his relationship with his brother and the moment that his mother died, “Walked her out the Earth, just me, a couple nurses.”

This lyrical prowess is perfectly complemented by the work that MIKE does behind the boards, handling the majority of the album’s production under his producer pseudonym, dj blackpower. In doing so, he creates a soundscape that’s as scattered and dense as the thoughts he’s put to paper in his verses. The murky lo-fi instrumentals, mostly comprised of chopped-up soul samples and irregular drum patterns, are deliberately messy enough to match the emotion within his lyrics while still creating a comfortable enough pocket for MIKE to sound his best in.

And while this isn’t his best project per se, as a writer and rapper, he is absolutely at his best. His writing is sharp, and his delivery is more confident than ever, even when he’s teetering on sounding monotone. From the exchanging verses with Earl Sweatshirt on the album’s closer “allstar,” to his personal reflections on songs like “no, no” and “trail of tears,” MIKE showcases that within his sadness and pain, his growth has been the light at the end of the tunnel.

On his 2019 magnum opus tears of joy (released shortly after his mother’s passing), we heard verses that played like the reflective diary entries of an emotionally distressed, grieving son. weight of the world sees that son, still sorrowful and grieving, finding solace in his music and further confidence in his abilities. It’s as hopeful as it is harrowing, a true testament to MIKE’s growth as a lyricist and producer, and one of the best and most unjustly overlooked albums of last year.


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