Mavi’s new album Laugh so Hard, it Hurts (Oct. 14) is not only a masterclass of emotive lyricism and lullaby-esque production, but an ascension altogether for the North Carolina emcee.
A few weeks after the release of “Baking Soda” and “Doves,” the follow-up to his 2019 effort, Let the Sun Talk — which was met by critical acclaim from the underground hip-hop community — explores his ability to heal from the hurt he’s perpetually endured.
Mavi’s sophomore LP sees him put his trauma at the forefront of artistry — detailing the worst of his experiences stemming from his relationship with his hometown, lovers in his life, family and his sense of direction. Touting production credits from Wulf Morpheus, Dylvinci and Monte Booker, LSHIH takes a diverse sonic direction while maintaining a soulful aesthetic.
Utilizing an array of lo-fi beats and distorted drums over piano loops, synths, or strings and woodwinds — compared to his previous boom-bap inspired music — Mavi seeks joy throughout the madness, as he remains appreciative of his success throughout. On the opening track “High John” Mavi reflects on if they still “make love in his size,” while singles in “Baking Soda” and “Doves” take a more R&B direction reflecting on his light and dark moment.
The 23-year-old rapper has deep-rooted conflicts between optimism and habits, love and love lost, and ambition and dejection. “Even though when certain things happen and I feel like I shouldn’t laugh again, I can’t cry forever,” he divulged in an interview with Earmilk.
“The harder I work, the smaller the gate. That’s definitely a big part of what this album represents; me not wanting to trade my full humanity for the cool kids’ table. It’s not that cool being the cool kid and there’s no cool kids at the cool kids’ table.”Mavi to Earmilk
Another standout, “Having My Way,” sees Mavi assert his track presence and wordplay over more trendy trap production. “3 Left Feet” and “Hemlock” wistfully looks back on why things didn’t end up the way he wanted, and the sacrifices he ultimately made to get where he is today. Comparatively, “Known Unknowns” heard him return to his signature boom-bap style, calling out someone who prayed on his downfall.
“We made em built our playground out of bayonets
Everything I need to say to smile start crying saying it
This tape my only taped confession
Laughing so hard it hurts”Mavi – “Last Laugh”
While Let The Sun Talk and END OF THE EARTH showed Mavi’s grandiose potential, he’s showed nothing less than exponential growth over his past few projects. LSHIH accentuates his talent even further — not only conveying the complexity of his craft, but asserting himself to be a compelling narrator of the story he unfolds.
As Mavi enjoys his moment and laughs from above, Laughing so Hard, it Hurts has monumentally set his career in stride — proving that his pen is among the best the game has to offer.
Check out Mavi’s album Laughing so Hard, it Hurts below!