REVIEW: 2 Mile Hill – Uncovered (EP)
January 1st 2016 was the beginning of something new for the only active alternative Barbadian band that people actually care about. The guys and gal of Nexcyx decided that their name was no more. Citing confusion and misspelling of the sobriquet as some of the main reasons behind the change, the new name they decided to bestow upon the group, 2 Mile Hill, was just as perplexing. But I saw this as a move for something bigger: they no longer want to be known as a Barbadian band, but a band from Barbados.
Along with a name change, there was a new image – Mahalia’s rocking a grey wig; Kris trimmed his fro; everyone is wearing black – and new music was promised. Six months later, Uncovered is here.
This is the group’s second EP – a five year follow-up to 2011’s Queen. However, unlike Queen, the lead up to Uncovered wasn’t ushered in with a single anyone outside of their immediate circle (friends, family, artist community) knew or cared about. Songs used to kick start some interest in their original music fell flat over the years (“In Da Club”,”Let It Go”), and that probably played into the delay of the project. For such a highly touted “dedicated” fan base, it’s clear that their loyalty is rooted in how well the band can reinterpret their favorite pop hits from the radio. Take how well the “Work (Remix)” was embraced, compared to how the comeback single “It’s Over,” released a few weeks prior, was completely ignored before the video dropped… for what it’s worth.
The EP kicks off with the jolting “Billion Dollars” – an immediate attention grabber. “If I had a billion dollars / I would pay to get you out of my life,” Mahalia sings on the hook of song about paying whatever to get rid of a bum from your existence – the ultimate break-up jam. “If I had the chance, you wouldn’t be around / Buy the place we met and burn it to the ground,” she continues, lightly seething.
Love & relationships make up most of the project’s material, and the front woman, doing most of the heavy lifting like always, is in fine form vocally throughout, even if most of the rap verses are at times forgettable. It’s not to say they’re bad. But you politely listen through because you just can’t wait to sing along to the sticky sweet choruses. This is the case with one of its weakest efforts, “What About Today.” The song’s positive message is driven by its strong hook (“Do you hold tomorrow, in your hands, enough to play ya games?”) and given life-support by the second verse that she sing-chants (“Done running in circles / Heading straight for the finish line / I’m kicking down hurdles / You about to get left behind”), other than that your just going through the motions.
The project’s stand-out is the deliciously, riveting “Set You Free” – a hazy epistle about forlorn love. “What happened to you and me?” she asks as the guitar riffs linger in the air like light smoke emitting from slow-burning incense. “Wish I could travel back in time to how we used to be,” she confesses. The song’s minimalist R&B, soft tones and soul-baring lyrics gives way to a titillating performance from MC, who, stripped of rapping duties, shows why she is one of the island’s top vocalists – bringing you into her shadowy, despondent state with her raspy queries and admissions.
“Know About Me,” a shot at the malicious, is about as aggressive as the neighbourhood pot starver; losing heavy edge thanks to the censored lyrics that would really pack a punch, and a light beat that sounds like something Cover Drive would make to appease their privileged, under-14 demo who get mad at their parents. But, with government functions to play for and hens to hawk for Haloute, I can understand why they redacted them. On second thought, what the f*** do I know about them?
The lead single “It’s Over” comes in at the end, and it basically surmises the entire project: strong, emotional singing; tolerable rapping; delightful, comfortable production.
An after-church refreshment plate of rock-fusion styles, Uncovered feels like Mahalia & co. are testing the waters to see if anyone even cares what they have to say; if not here, maybe overseas. It feels like one last hurrah to see if this band thing makes any sense. Sure, they will continue being on top – Mahalia’s Corner will continue to be well attended, they will still perform at every event that isn’t directly related to soca, and they are immensely talented as solo musicians – but I believe they want to continue doing so by playing their own music.
Hard Tune: “It’s Over”,”Set You Free”
246Mixtapes Rating: 2.5/5
Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder & Editor of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.
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