Makonnen - Fun Summer Vol. 1
Though much of it has disappeared without explanation, Makonnen has spent the last year or so releasing some of his most unfiltered, freestyle-like material on SoundCloud. With the arrival of his new project Fun Summer Vol. 1 (also released exclusively on SoundCloud), he’s continued to tap into the raw approach, putting together a collection of tracks that put his pop songwriting chops on full display while always steering from the gloss the genre is known for. When the Atlanta rapper shared the minimal “Line 2” last month, he described it as a “One take freestyle.” This much is clear from the endearingly scrambled, briefly stumbling verses, which contain an unpredictable mix of stream-of-consciousness brags and blunt honesty. Meanwhile, the hook is impossibly catchy both in melody and concept -- something that’s true across the project. Compared to I LOVE MAKONNEN and I LOVE MAKONNEN 2, Fun Summer Vol. 1 feels much less A&Red, with Makonnen co-producing the majority of the tracks, and the sketches of his Roland keyboard demos still audible in the frameworks of the songs. The way it puts the ideas before the arrangements makes it feel like a return to his early material, and it’s the most comfortable he’s sounded in a little while. After some unfortunate experiences with the industry, it’s not surprising to see Makonnen take a step back and re-evaluate his place in music, and a low-stakes soundtrack to a “safe fun summer” seems like the best way to do it.