MAYDAY! may have something of a rep around South Florida for being a party band. This is true -- the hip-hop group's live shows are generally boisterous affairs. But careful listeners will have long ago noted a deeper, more cerebral and hard-edged side to the group.
What's long set them apart, in fact, is that there are clearly brains behind the operation. MCs Bernbiz and Wrekonize opt for creative wordplay over repetitive chants, and the rest of the group, helmed by producer and co-founder Plex Luthor, add some serious thinking-person's musical textures to the backbeats.
So it's not totally surprising that the group's new free single, "Death March," sounds a little more apocalyptic than other, more carefree recent offerings. Over the sound of rhythmic, military-sound boot-stomping, Wrek and Bernz paint a picture of a bleak daily life based on evading spies and nuclear waste.
"Me and Wreko usually start our sessions with a conversation, and this one happened to be about this 'mechanistic; type lifestyle we all live, marching back and forth from our pre-determined appointments not noticing a bigger clock ticking in the background," explains Bernz.
Of course, rapper Tech N9ne, owner of MAYDAY's new label, Strange Music, is known for traversing darker territory himself. So were many of MAYDAY's tour mates on their Strange-sponsored cross-country trek last year. (A personal favorite is probably this guy, Kung Fu Vampire, with whom they played a couple of West Coast dates.)
So were their new buddies influences on the new musical turn? "Yes and no," says Bernz. "It didn't bring out anything that wasn't there already. If you listen to our very first, self-titled album, it also carries a decidedly dark vibe. It's kind of after we picked up instruments heavy that we started to experiment with other, more eclectic sounds. What Strange Music has given us is the freedom to be able to experiment with that side of ourselves again."
In other words, "Death March" is an accurate reflection of what else is coming up on the band's forthcoming debut album for Strange, Take Me To Your Leader, due out March 27.
"On our last album, Stuck on an Island, we kind of run the gamut in terms of colors we used and on this album we definitely tried to focus in a bit more on a specific palette," says Bernz. "Death March is definitely a barometer for where we want to take the listener on this project. The song is kind of a reflection of how comfortable we are in our skin musically. We are a lot more confident bending genres and vibes."
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Download the track for free below.
Download: MAYDAY! - "Death March"