Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
As an independent music critic, I’m no stranger to aspiring hip hop artists. In fact, they’re the bulk of what comes across my desk on a daily basis. The vast majority of it, however, is inundated with poor production and stereotypical lyricism. Many artists’ beats sound like they were stripped out of the presets in Garageband, and it often results in music best left untouched on their hard drives. I’d argue Monsta Mash, a performer from Santa Barbara, has broken that mold and released some music worth taking a listen to.
Monsta Mash has three singles available streaming now, all of which are preceding his five track unplugged EP due out later this year. The first of which, ‘Stay on Edge,’ has hints of Monsta Mash’s acoustic stylings, with a guitar elegantly accented by a thick, tactful beat. The musical style on ‘Stay on Edge’ is unlike anything I’ve heard before in the indie scene: it balances punk, pop, and hip hop in a surprisingly coherent way.
‘Stay on Edge’ has a few fascinating elements that make it as effective as it is. Monsta Mash’s delivery is absolutely compelling. He’s quite a personality, and as he injects his poignant personal story of overcoming substance abuse into his music, one can’t help but feel like they know Monsta Mash. His music exudes authenticity. Furthermore, ‘Stay on Edge’ has an inspirational element to it, best exhibited in the infectious hooks sung by a female vocalist.
‘Waitin for Tha Rain,’ the second single available from Monsta Mash, also incorporates an acoustic guitar in the backdrop of an intense production. Of the three tracks, the rapper is in his finest form on ‘Waitin for Tha Rain.’ His sly wordsmithing is unbelievable, and the whistled riff in the backdrop is one that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks.
‘One Day U’ is likely the most pop-infused track of the bunch, a ballad with quirky lyrics the likes of “I’m thinking your face should be my next tattoo” and “just like new wave hit the 80s, driving me crazy, I want you to be my lady.” It’s a fantastic entry in Monsta Mash’s catalog, perfectly complementing the other two offerings available right now.
I adore Monsta Mash’s sound. It’s wholly unique unto itself, and I’m very eager to see what he does with a fully unplugged EP. It’s hard to break through the rap scene, and part of that is developing one’s artistic identity and preventing it from being derivative or ostentatious. Monsta Mash avoids both of those pratfalls, and his music is very worth keeping close tabs on moving forward.