MAVI’s stardom rose amid tragedy. Now his reflection on that journey hits Philamoca on May 19
The Charlotte emcee visits Philly on the second-to-last stop of a 40+ city international tour for his latest project.
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Charlotte, North Carolina’s flourishing emcee MAVI has made significant strides towards stardom since his 2019 breakout project Let The Sun Talk.
His dense lyricism, energetic delivery, and hazy, stripped-down production make him a favorite among young underground rap fans, and older hip-hop connoisseurs alike. The 23-year-old rapper released his sophomore album Laughing So Hard It Hurts last October, which landed on Pitchfork’s and The New York Times’ Top Albums of 2022 lists.
In January, MAVI launched a 40+ city international tour for the album, and will be making his second-to-last stop of the circuit at Philamoca on May 19.
MAVI’s considerable growth in popularity over the last few years can be attributed to the upstanding character conveyed in his music and public image. The Howard University undergrad continuously displays his knowledge of, and personal experiences with, the historic plight of Black people. He uses music to express moments of calmness and clarity within the systematically chaotic environment of Black communities in the U.S. MAVI is candid and blunt when breaking down the issues around him, but steers clear of glorifying or wallowing in it. He instead inspires listeners to change these circumstances themselves. This lyrical balance has given the rapper a sizable fansbase, with 2.3 million monthly Spotify listeners, and earned him respect among contemporaries. He’s worked with up-and-comers Tony Shhnow and Pink Siifu, as well as rap veterans Earl Sweatshirt and The Alchemist.
The emcee’s maturation since his 2019 project is evident on Laughing So Hard It Hurts.
The intro track “High John” takes its name from the folktale of High John the Conqueror, an enslaved African prince brought to America who survived the horrors of slavery by finding comical ways to outsmart slave masters. This theme of laughing through pain and making the most of terrible situations is central to the 16-track project. MAVI experienced the passing of multiple family members, getting an entire album shelved, and a serious car crash, while growing his fanbase exponentially, going on tour with Jack Harlow, and turning his passion of rapping into a viable career. He uses the album to explore both his joy and sorrow during this formative time.
Tracks like “Quiet On Set” show this dichotomy where MAVI confronts his emotions as he processes painful and joyous moments. “Reason!” explores another polarity, filled with subtle flexes of his accomplishments that are followed by confessions of shortcomings in previous relationships. MAVI’s ability to mesh gratitude and regret with pain and happiness throughout the project makes the work incredibly human and relatable.
In an interview with Okayplayer, MAVI describes the project’s title, noting: “It’s laughing so hard while it hurts, or laughing so hard and it hurts. It’s really representing the coexistence of these two emotional expressions that are opposite poles from each other.”
This duality MAVI describes reflects the approach he’s taken to his own career, finding ways to smile through hardships and see the light in his darkest moments.
He’ll be bringing this reflective attitude to a sold-out crowd at Philamoca May 19. Concertgoers should expect a soul-filling night of affirming rap that’ll challenge them to grow for the better. A waitlist for tickets is available via R5 Productions.
SEPTA is the PHILLY WAY TO GO to MAVI at PhilaMOCA on May 19th! Take the Broad Street Line to Spring Garden Station – from there it is a six minute walk to PhilaMOCA on 12th Street. Plan your trip at ISEPTAPHILLY.COM/PLAN-YOUR-TRIP!