Medhane knows how to make every word count. The New York rapper’s bars exist in a world colored by anxiety and necessary strength. Medhane’s 2019 breakout project, Own Pace, was an emotional engine check of sorts, a pit stop to remind him of the pleasures of moving forward on his terms. With FULL CIRCLE, released Tuesday, February 18, Medhane’s latest self-released EP works to fertilize the trodden ground of previous works. “Stay expending energy /Won’t let that anger get the best of me,” he raps on the intro track “Dan Freeman.”
On the eight-track offering, Medhane attempts to consolidate his thoughts further with style. When I interviewed Medhane in 2019, he explained his relationship with words: “I’m not on some super-duper lyrical miracle type shit. I keep it smooth, but I try to say things that are hard.”
Brevity continues to be the soul of his wit across FULL CIRCLE. “I Was Just in Mara” is a compact stream-of-consciousness song, covering more ground on trauma and perseverance in one verse than most rappers can manage in three:
“Tip-toe toward solace / Heavy conscience / Shit I seen can’t be forgotten / Reliving trauma / Call it karma /Couldn’t call it, so they called a doctor.”
The bluntness of FULL CIRCLE extends to its production. Entirely self-produced under the name AFB, Medhane makes the most out of few materials. Decaying samples echo off of walls; drums are bleached bare for maximum thump. The beats match Medhane’s rich lower tenor voice, filling in the cracks only a rapper-producer would notice. His musical confidence is sharpening. He sounds even better when sparring with friends. Maassai and AKAI SOLO both match Medhane’s energy, delivering verses that complement the project’s chaotic energy with sagelike intonations.
The journey from Own Pace to FULL CIRCLE finds meaning in everyday despair. The project feels more like a continuation of the ideas explored on Own Pace. Still, while FULL CIRCLE may be familiar, it’s hardly stale. Medhane’s message for himself and his audience is evergreen: Self-care is a continuous process.
Grey clouds are everywhere. Silver linings are just as prevalent. We find them in friends, in family, in work, and through spiritual fulfillment. Medhane’s blessings and sins have come full circle. We’re left eager to see where his ambitions lead him next.
Best song: “I Was Just In The Mara”
Best bar: “Murky water feel like Flint”
Best moment: Hearing Geronimo Pratt bars in 2020 on “Redline”