One of Lithuania’s most alternative and most innovative rappers, MC Mesijus, or “Messiah” in Lithuanian, recently released his conceptual third album called #Uzgrotu, meaning #behindbars.
A collaborative work, he also paired up with promising Vilnius-based producer Münpauzn for the project.
Mesijus, besides his career in music, is also an acclaimed slam poet and experienced copywriter. In his first album called Antimaterija from 2006, you can hear his innovative lyrics, which are enriched with some of his own neologisms and extraordinary figures of speech.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Mesijus released a second album – Paskutinis Repo Albumas. His second effort is considered more artistic and bolder than his first. He combines playful instrumentals and wacky beats, with scathing criticism of consumer society and self-references to his own music.
The human condition, crime, alienation… and hashtags
However, Mesijus’ newest album differs from his previous releases in several ways.
In his latest release, the rapper abandons the classic hip-hop structure in favour of completely unique concepts and abstract instrumentals. The album is loaded with 12 tracks, opening with #Tu Dar Negimęs (#You‘re not born yet) and closing with #Tu Nebegyvas (#You’re already dead).
Mesijus himself noted the album represents the various, and usually dark, stages of person’s life. He puts the listener in a criminal’s shoes. This core concept is combined with the context of contemporary reality – for example, the ironic use of hashtags on every track title.
In addition to focusing on the state of the modern human condition and criminal issues, Mesijus uses satire to bring together the themes of being alienated from society, hypocrisy, and materialism.
Re-booting Lithuanian hip-hop
Münpauzn’s instrumental contribution to this album signifies one more key change in Mesijus’ creative direction.
Mesijus has always had the ability to re-invigorate Lithuanian hip-hop and to do so this time, he has brought along Münpauzn and his pulsating bassy, dark, electronica sounds.
Not so long ago, Münpauzn released his debut album called The Dark Side of the Mün, which bursts with fresh and obscure tracks, in which noisy ambient textures flow over thick basslines.
The instrumentals in Mesijus’ and Münpauzn’s collaborative release seem less complex – the beats remain pretty moody but more intense and dynamic.
Münpauzn’s music on Uzgrotu is far from the classic hip-hop sound, and it occasionally channels Kanye West’s minimalistic, bad-ass instrumentals, on Yeezus.
What puzzles me, however, is Mesijus’ choice to call his music “avant-garde rap”. Mesijus’ lyrics are without a doubt provocative, edgy, and the rapper’s vocabulary is undoubtedly inventive – he’s the 2014 European Poetry Slam champion, after all…
But is avant-garde rap enough?
Maybe not. The hip-hop genre has always had much room for improvement, not only in terms of lyrics, but it could add more explosive emotion into its flow. It also wouldn’t hurt to bring in elements from other genres as well.
Avant-garde rap seeks to push the boundaries of hip-hop, further than Mesijus has ever gone before, but despite its unorthodox nature, #Uzgrotu seems to be the most exemplary Lithuanian experimental hip-hop product so far.
In short, I believe #Uzgrotu definitely lays a strong foundation for this kind of music in this country.