Marvel Mike – May The 4th Be With You – EP Review
OK! I feel like I can get behind this 100%…maybe even 200%…is that a thing?
Marvel Mike understands real Hip-Hop right from the roots of where it started to what it is now – when you hear a genuine student of the craft, it’s just something you can hear…I almost have no clue as to how to explain it any better than that. I put on this new 2021 record by my fellow Canadian here, and that was instantly the first thing that hit me – this guy really does ‘get it.’ He “comes equipped with some desperate rhymes” as he’ll tell ya along the way…but I’ll be damned if he don’t make it all sound extremely awesome in the process. Living here in Canada myself…you’d think I’d be all about the local scene & whatnot – heck, I even share a province with this cat right here in review today…but in truth, you could look over pages & pages of what I’ve written here…and you’ll see that, despite plenty of access & opportunity to represent…the Canadian Hip-Hop/Rap-scene still has plenty of room to raise its game up to this very day. Just because I live here doesn’t mean the place just gets a pass from me.
But this guy…this guy right here…Marvel Mike might just be the right champion we need on the m-i-c. Time will tell the true tale of course, but everything I’m hearing on the May The 4th Be With You EP is not only extremely exciting to me personally, but a sound I know has a massive audience always waiting for more of what they love, wherever they can find it. So if real Hip-Hop is your thing – be ridin’ with M2.
“Once upon a time in the GTA…” – and just like that, “The Journey” begins…and a whole new chapter of opportunity is about to open up for Marvel Mike in what’s assuredly going to be a massive breakout year for our nation’s homeboy here. This guy has got BARS…he’s got confidence, he’s got style…his tone of voice and steadiness on the mic is all-pro, all-day…and the essence of what makes real Hip-Hop connect is stamped all over the place as you listen to “The Journey” and the rest of the cuts to follow. Which makes sense if you’re listening close…this ain’t M2’s first rodeo yo – May The 4th Be With You ain’t so much the Star Wars reference you’d be thinking it might be as it is a nod to the chronology of his career. I’ve only been able to locate the third record online myself…those other two might be records you gotta know the man personally to get a copy of, but the previous release of Forward My Youth from around 2015 is out there…suffice it to say, the others would come earlier – the point is that Marvel Mike has been honing his craft for some time now, he’s taken that time away to observe his own cuts objectively, decide what works, and come out gunnin’ with quality from the drop of day one this year. BIG BEATS…authentic scratches…epic sound from the lefts to the rights – “The Journey” instantly strikes ya as being made by an artist in their prime and at the top of their game right now – there’s not a doubt in my mind that what’s coming through my speakers on this first cut could easily rival the mainstream. Here’s perhaps the best way I can put it…what you’ll hear from Mike on the mic has got the magic and the audible X-factor you wanna hear in the star of the show…he’s absolutely nothing less than impressive from start to finish – BUT…honestly, the real compliment that needs to be paid here is how flawless “The Journey” is from every single angle you could possibly examine it from. From production to performance, you can practically feel the intensity of M2’s focus…and ultimately, that’s what makes this first track, or any of’em on this EP for that matter, connect and make the resounding impact they all do. What’s 100% undeniable and can easily be heard by each and every one of you out there listening, is that “The Journey” is essentially everything you could want in the gateway into a new experience or a first impression – you hear a track like this in the number-one spot, and you KNOW you’re in for a quality ride through the rest to follow. If the standards are set this high to begin with, let’s face facts – you’re taking a supreme chance in the sense that, if you don’t have the material to back it up, the people out there are gonna know the record is front-loaded with its best foot forward, like so many others that you can think of in your collections. But that’s just the thing folks – the opposite scenario is quite often true too – sometimes when you hear a song with such spectacular attention to detail like “The Journey” has, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt the artist or band genuinely CARES about the results in the music they’re making. Essentially, you just couldn’t achieve this otherwise. After a single spin through “The Journey” – heck, from its first ten seconds alone – you know you’re on solid ground…your ears are smart folks, they’ll know engaging entertainment when they hear it like this.
“Strange Times In The City” does bring the EP into a more noticeably serious set of vibes and a slower pace than the initial cut brings to the table upfront, but the quality maintains in the writing & sound for sure. In context of the layout of May The 4th Be With You, I think Marvel has played every second of this correctly – he’s got a single-worthy cut at track one to bring us all in, he’s droppin’ insightful knowledge bombs on us throughout the second, and he’ll go on to prove he’s got this EP laid out in the right ways to build to its finale. Think of it like…I suppose to me, assembling a great listening experience is extremely similar to how you put together a relay team – you wanna come crashing outta the gate with almost that same fire you’ll end it with, keep the strength solid in the middle, and heat it up with everything you got to the finish – and that’s the way this record flows for sure. From the sounds of things, I’d say it’s fairly safe to assume that a lot of “Strange Times In The City” is all about the isolated times we’re living in right now, in addition to insightful social commentary that ties in along the way. What I can tell ya is this – I make no illusions about the fact that a track like “The Journey” is gonna catch more attention right off the bat, but it’s songs with strength like this that’ll make the whole record hold up over the years to follow. As far as any kind of Covid-influenced tunes go, I’d also put this up there with some of my favorites, and that’s completely because of the way that Marvel has written his words. He’s completely on the topic, but at the same time, he’s not making any of it so brutally obvious like so many have tended to do…there’s still room for you to get right into the lyricism and he actually humanizes this whole experience by looking at it through an authentically objective perspective. Rather than try to pander to any one side of the argument on how it’s all being handled, if you ask me, he’s spittin’ straight facts at ya and laying out the story of what it’s like to live right now in unfiltered detail.
“Got That Bounce” is a solid example of lean & mean y’all. Much like “Strange Times In The City,” you’ll find that it’s an extremely satisfying listen and a cut with tremendous depth to it, and it’s also arguably the most versatile hybrid between the old-school & new that you’ll find on this record overall. I mean, for those in the know, for sure, you can’t miss the roots of the genre in the vibe – but there’s zero reason that “Got That Bounce” couldn’t be designated to hit the clubs of the modern day as well with such relevant sound in terms of the scene right now. I mean…look…the facts are that this guy’s loaded this EP up with so much A-side material that it’s easy to get caught up in something that might not stand out as much as the rest for one reason or another – like for myself personally, I had a moment here & there where I felt like “Got That Bounce” was probably a cut that Mike could pull off at any moment’s notice – but just because he hits this ultra-slick cut with a bit more of a stylized & simplified approach compared to the others does not make this any kind of B-side, ya feel me? I suppose what I’m saying is this – “Got That Bounce” is probably a little less substantial on a lyrical level than the others, making more of a trade for the flavor of the main hooks – but to be fair to the man, they become as memorable, large, and lasting as he intended them to become as a result of that choice. Marvel Mike is still gonna flex PLENTY of skills along the way…don’t you worry bout that…ultimately, I think “Got That Bounce” stands a real chance of potentially bringing in even a more widespread audience into the man’s music. Don’t get it twisted…all I’m saying is that it’s approached with different intentions in its design, but I’m just as much in the corner for “Got That Bounce” as I am for any of the cuts on May The 4th Be With You.
I mean…you gotta love it when you hit track 4/5 on an EP and you still feel like the stakes are being raised. “On My Mind” is about as instantly addictive as a track can be if you ask me – tons of vibrant sound in the mix, tons of personality on the mic, tons of ideas that work here, and every reason on display to turn this smooth cut straight UP. Marvel Mike’s like a one-man Jurassic 5 on cuts like this and the opening of “The Journey” – he’s got an incredible grip on how to make the old-school new again, and get a whole bunch of listeners out there genuinely excited about what they’re hearing. The jazzy infusion into the atmosphere of “On My Mind” is spectacular – but c’mon y’all – you got ears on your own face right? You hearin’ this? Marvel Mike is crushin’ it bar-after-bar, beat-for-beat, all the way through “On My Mind” and providin’ relentless entertainment that’s guaranteed to get the body movin.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve managed to spin my way through this record at this point in time – but while I’ll readily confess to being addicted to the whole lineup of five tracks, “On My Mind” still managed to stand out apart from the rest with that single-worthy sparkle & shine you wanna hear comin’ from your speakers. Solid hooks, even better verses, and the music just slaps from start to finish – what more could you want? Intensity, charisma, character…it’s all there, yep. Is the pure art of the wordsmith on display? You bet your ass it is. The extra length does wonders for Marvel Mike here…I definitely wouldn’t be shying away from going hard for longer like he does on the four minutes of “On My Mind” – dude’s makin’ mincemeat outta the bars and showing a master’s grip on the m-i-c. Melody plays a massive role…the jazzy beat is insatiable…the saxophone in the mix, that’s been present throughout so much of this record continually complements the whole vibe & ties the fluid flow of this EP together like the unsung hero. All-in-all though, I could go on & on about “On My Mind” for DAYS yo – but the reality is, some songs speak for themselves, and this is one of them. I think every album out there needs songs like “Strange Times In The City” and “Got That Bounce” too – but I also think that there’s no denying single-worthy sound when you hear it – “On My Mind” has every ounce of it in the mix for ya to enjoy, delivering a massive highlight as M2 heads towards the finish line of his new EP.
When the time comes keeps the old-school infusion perfectly on-point – you can’t listen to a track like this and not acknowledge he’s rockin’ the mic with the history of the genre right at his side here. Flexing with serious finesse, radiant confidence, and professional precision, “When The Time Comes” has the man sounding fully in charge and handlin’ his business like he could do this all damn day. And you know something folks? I hope that he DOES. I hope that M2 gets addicted to the incredible music he’s makin’ here, reactions like mine towards this record, and surely yours as well – everything I’ve heard on May The 4th Be With You should be all the motivation this man needs to be in the studio day & night pushing harder than ever this year. Or like, you know…whenever we’re not all locked down etc. – you get it – the point is that Mike hasn’t put anything less than a stellar performance into any of the songs in this tight set of five, and as a result, he’s guaranteed to keep you entertained all the way through. But if 2015 really was the last time he put out an EP before this…I mean…c’mon now Mike…it’s time to start hustling the mic like never before bruh…talent like this cannot simply sit on the shelf for six long years. Dude puts in a mesmerizing final stroll through the bars, streaming continuous doses of words atcha and gettin’ the rhythm in the rhymes fully on-point to finish strong with “When The Time Comes” and prove without question, that HIS time has come, right here, right now. Aces all-around, this set of five slays.
Listen to more music by Marvel Mike at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5pzLTw1lC0iLtYsVJo2eXt