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‘We All Shine’ says YNW Melly. Listen.

| Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Mike Donovan | The Observer

YNW Melly keeps going to jail. When Melly was 16, he was imprisoned for the first time on weapons charges for shooting guns near a school and was imprisoned for 13 months. During this stint, he wrote “Murder on My Mind,” his breakout single. The quality of the track’s storytelling along with YNW Melly’s melodies combine for a stand-out sound in the saturated SoundCloud market.

Since his first stint, YMW Mellow has been caught in the revolving door that is America’s prison system. He has been reincarcerated multiple times for offenses as simple as marijuana possession or the lyrics in his songs. Despite an onslaught of extrinsic forces, Melly has been making and releasing music steadily since 2017. He writes songs in prison, MacGyvering beats on his chest with his fist, and releases them from behind bars. His first album, “I Am You,” and his most recent release, “We All Shine,” were both dropped from captivity.

“We All Shine” brims with the undeniable energy of an artist who cannot be held back. The opening two tracks, “City Girls” and “No Heart,” play like ballads — lamentations of shallow attempts, love and bitter goodbyes — interlacing traditional rapping throughout.

His big-name collaboration with Kanye West on “Mixed Personalities” is another look at the relationships in Melly’s life. The chorus is a worthwhile sing along and likely the best music Kanye has released recently (proving that Kanye’s inability to relate to society does not hinder his capacity to produce good new music).

Despite a catchy sound, YNW Melly’s ruminations on love hold little water compared to his reflections on the life in which he grew up. In “Robbery,” YNW sings the dialogue of crime like an opera: “Don’t make a sound … Just hit the ground,” holding his listeners hostage.

Melly also finds a suitable subject in rapping about the barriers that prevent him from doing and being what he wants. “F— PNC Bank” depicts his trouble withdrawing enough cash to sustain his spending habits. “Why You Gotta Walk Like That???” chronicles his disregard for the opinions of those who’d rather see him live more traditionally.

The production of “We All Shine” is best described as appropriate. Just as YNW Melly pounded his fist as the beat to write much of his work, the underlying instrumentals provide a sufficient framework for Melly to display the heart of his music, his voice.

His usual singing is smooth to the point of buttery. His rapping is often quick and full of distinct imagery. However, YNW Melly sometimes takes the experimentation off track. “Mixed Personalities” features a near screeched section of autotune vocals and “Alarm” contains a falsetto which even Young Thug would have trouble executing. Although he misses his target sometimes, YNW Melly is definitively competent in his technical skills.

YNW Melly has a distinguished sound in a field where it’s all too easy to get lost. He uses his voice like a nuclear fission reactor that he has not yet fully learned to control. Used properly, his voice has incredible potential, but, if misused, has catastrophic implications. “We All Shine” is not perfectly polished, but it begs to be listened to again and again. It seems that nothing will be able to reverse YNW Melly’s ascent from nothing.


  • Artist: YNW Melly
  • Album: “We All Shine”
  • Label: 300 Entertainment
  • Favorite Track: “Ingredients”
  • If you like: Yung Bans, Roddy Rich
  • Shamrocks: 4 out of 5


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