Mykki Blanco: Stay Close to Music review – lost in their own album

Burning issues and inspired moments are obscured by a succession of guest vocalists on the rapper’s pop-leaning latest

Poet-artist-rapper Mykki Blanco has always been important just for existing in America’s miserably homophobic and transphobic rap industry. This album, made at the same time as last year’s comeback Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep, sees Blanco sharpening their pop antennae while discussing topics such as racism, feminism and queer pride. Little sparks surprise and delight, such as producer FaltyDL’s creative use of unpredictable backing vocals, and Anohni’s gossamer hook on French Lessons. On the other hand, Ketamine proffers a disorientating rhythm and queasy vibe – presumably designed to recreate a K trip – that is oddly not that enjoyable to listen to.

However, the main problem is a constellation of guests, from a tranquillised Michael Stipe to wordy Saul Williams, that first offer welcome light and shade, then block your view of the album’s supposed central star. Last track Carry On should close on Blanco’s fiery final verse; instead it meanders on for ages with Sigur Rós’s Jónsi hogging the spotlight. Mykki gets lost in their own album, except on its sole irresistible bop, Pink Diamond Bezel, a worthy, Neptunes-lite successor to last year’s Summer Fling. Disappointingly – and perhaps tellingly – it’s the one song where they have nothing of interest to say.

Watch the video for Mykki Blanco’s Family Ties ft. Michael Stipe.


Damien Morris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mykki Blanco – review

There's much more to Michael Quattlebaum's alter ego than sexual ambivalence and flamboyant outfits, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

03, Feb, 2013 @12:07 AM

Article image
Mykki Blanco: Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep review – regretful and flirtatious
The New York artist-cum-rapper amps up the emotion on their latest outing, along with some nods to jazz and house

Kitty Empire

13, Jun, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
Mykki Blanco: Mykki review – candid, genre-bending tales from a riveting rapper
The confrontational New Yorker shows a more intimate side on this debut album

Kitty Empire

18, Sep, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
Mykki Blanco: ‘I’ve helped to push open some closed doors. It’s a cool feeling’
The rapper has worked with Kanye and Madonna and blazed a trail for black queer pop. They say their new mini album feels like the start of a new chapter

Kadish Morris

20, Jun, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
J Dilla: The Diary review – Dilla’s lost 2002 vocal album
(PayJay/Mass Appeal)

Killian Fox

17, Apr, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
New music: Mykki Blanco – Kingpinning

Mykki Blanco revives her Black Jew Prince character for a song about being 'the master of whatever it is you do'

Michael Cragg

25, Jan, 2013 @1:00 PM

Article image
Kate Tempest review – a perfect storm
Kate Tempest felt the love as she rhymed and rapped her way through her new album, Let Them Eat Chaos

Kitty Empire

11, Dec, 2016 @9:00 AM

Article image
Plan B review – Bard boy makes good
The Globe proves an inspired backdrop for Ben Drew’s dramatic live return, complete with gremlins and groundlings

Kitty Empire

30, Jul, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Chief Keef: Dedication review – most satisfying album to date
(RBC Records)

Alex Macpherson

03, Dec, 2017 @7:59 AM

Article image
Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar review – sounds like freedom feels
(Ninja Tune)

Damien Morris

10, Mar, 2018 @3:00 PM