For just under a week now, the world has had the pleasure of being able to hear Beam Me Up, the latest project from Ya Mean (who curiously hasn’t changed names since my last review of his work). It’s an engrossing collection of songs that benefits from lengthy, hypnotic refrains and ultra-futuristic production.
‘Mafia’ is an awesome intro to the tape, blending a piano-heavy beat with a deluge of sharp melodies from Ya Mean himself, plus an earth-scorching verse from XellFromHell on his first of three appearances here. It’s a tone-setter for sure, moody and contemplative in all the right ways while simultaneously balancing the strengths of the two rappers’ styles. The following track ‘GiveNoF*cks’ is a straight rager, Ya Mean’s vocals sounding straight out of the gutter thanks to the gravelly mixing. Mars2001 handles the hook, and it’s worth noting how impressive it is that both artists sound so good over this thumper of a beat despite their drastically different takes on the song. Only two songs in, Beam Me Up already sounds like a project that rather than making concessions to its collaborators ensures that they stand on equal footing with the lead artist.
‘G33k Wit Me’ is where the hypnotism really sets in. There’s a dreamy quality to this song that makes the repetition alluring, and with plenty of space for the beat to breathe it soon becomes an essential part of the tracklist. Scottish rapper ljstnn drops an insane verse here, adding an even more inebriated feel to the proceedings. The features come in thick and fast, with both Ya Mean’s partner UV and the brilliantly named Lato showing up for ‘Ghostrider’. Ya Mean’s hook and verse are uber-crunchy and satisfying, fitting perfectly alongside both guest verses. The transitions between each artist’s contribution feel incredibly natural, as if all three were there in person hopping on the mic one at a time.
The last three songs might be my favourites, though. ‘Switchin’’ actually sounds like the alien invasion depicted on the cover art, Sachy’s beat transporting listeners to a surreal, dystopian future. Ya Mean’s verse here might be his best on the project, his flow is impeccable and the production is a better fit for him than anywhere else on the project. ‘Tr3nds3tter’ is awesome given the presence of Sixtythree alone, but with Konbini joining in on the action the song becomes one of the most unique here. It’s standard fare for the three artists at this point, but more of the Sixty sound is never a bad thing. As ‘Skyfall’ kicks in, fully embracing the sounds of future bass as it brings the project to an epic conclusion.
I’ve always known that Ya Mean and co. were capable of delivering something truly superb, and they seem to have done so with Beam Me Up. I admire not only his resilience and innovative nature, but also his determination to include his friends in his vision. This is a really, really good set of songs that anyone interested in the fringe genres of rap should check out.
Listen to the project below.
Follow Ya Mean on Twitter.
– Chris (@malenchanted)