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Music is an art form, a captivating lens in which we can gain insight into the inner psyche of its artists, a gaze into the world we live in through differing perspectives, or simply just a form of recreational relaxation. It’s a complicated thing to master, but every once in a while a musician comes along that completely flips any and all preconceived constructs or definitions on their respective heads, and redefines what it’s like to be an artist.
Step forward Mokyo, a South-Korean hip-hop mogul also known as the acclaimed producer "Thurxday." As H1GHR music’s latest star in a long list of growing and established names, there was a weight of expectancy to his first single “Something,” but what followed was simply an introspective work of genius.
The emotion is visceral, the instrumentation perfectly crafted, and the vocals soothing in their deceptiveness. It’s easy to view the track as a smooth, relaxing effort, but in reality it’s far from it. A crescendo of emotion, the intensity comes from the intrinsically fused deep-look into life, and the heart-wrenching lyrics.
There is some bluntness to the track’s nature, with a simple explanation to the listener that it is a sad song; but on a deeper level, it’s a blisteringly powerful tale of longing and love through tactful storytelling. A reminiscent offering, it’s an ode to Mokyo’s mother that forces soul-searching and reflection. There’s no room for a surface-level glossing over of the track, because anything other than detailed attention shows a lack of respect towards something that could truly be considered a masterpiece. The vocoded voice may take some sense of rawness away from the release, but the somber piano and delicately sensitive mood painted by the song gives a tangible sense of layered meaning.
It doesn’t just stop at the audio level either, with the visuals of the music video serving a poignant dosage of context and abstract interpretation. For the viewer, it may lead to memories of loss and loved ones coming right to the surface, and it will almost certainly evoke instinctively uncontrolled emotion. The simple and repetitive melody is hypnotic in its structure, making it hard to remain anything but transfixed on the song.
From there, it was difficult to sense where Mokyo would go stylistically, and what message he would want to convey next. So, when his latest single “Daddy” was announced with the tag-line, “This is for people suffering from domestic violence,” I was intrigued.
To say it was a successful follow-up would be a gross understatement. Putting it simply, it’s near-perfection. Another sonically captivating yet visually thought-provoking attack on the senses; there is a dark, haunting texture to this track. There’s more introspection, but less of the empathetic sensibility shown in “Something,” and more of a chillingly to-the-point bombardment of pent up emotion through scathing lyrics.
The plodding instrumentals remain, but the careful and meticulous nature of dealing with loss is expertly juxtaposed with the intensity of actually wanting to lose someone. The candid repetition of wanting the abuser dead, emphasised by an aggressive tone shift towards the track’s apex, is shocking, but also empowering. It gives a voice to people who may feel defeated, feeds them an outlet to take away the isolation one could feel through pain, and presents them with a figure that can act as a positive role-model for defeating personal demons.
Whether you like the musical style or not, there’s no doubt that Mokyo is immensely talented and possesses the tools to make people think, reflect, and discuss. When the definition of art can be taken as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” there is simply no denying the H1GHR Music signee is an artist in its truest form. This is more than just chart-developed, mainstream-catered “bops,” this is music for the mind.