Raleigh's hip hop scene continues to feel as though it is gaining momentum. Over the past few years, a handful of local hip hop acts have taken their talent from grass-roots-word-of-mouth live shows to signing big contracts and high-tailing it out of the capital city. Despite the fact that these acts are leaving our city, I respect this move because, unfortunately, our city doesn't seem to foster a thriving hip hop community as much as larger venues like New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles. Luckily, Raleigh gets to lay claim to the fame to the city in which these artists got their start and frequently, many of these acts come home and perform at sellout shows, bringing with them talent from their new found homelands and representing the up and coming local talent in Raleigh as well (see the most recent Kooley High show at Kings Barcade a month ago).
Enter King Mez, the latest in what I would consider a hometown hero in the hip hop world. King Mez, Morris Wayne Ricks II his birth name, has been slowly but surely finding traction in our city, performing Raleigh for a few years, rhyming about his love for his family, friends and the city that he calls home. He's young and so is his producer, Commissioner Gordon. The duo released a mixtape (The Paraplegics) few years ago that was quite excellent and showed lots of potential for a couple of musicians in their early twenties. Seeing that potential, later that year, I decided to have King Mez headline the Cooke Street Carnival in Downtown Raleigh. Mez impressed beyonds words that evening and we've continued to follow his success path since.
King Mez and J. Cole in studio
Fast forward two years and King Mez is ready to release his second album, My Everlasting Zeal, and is at a turning point. At a recent meeting at downtown's Morning Times, Mez discussed the next steps in his blossoming career. Agents are barking down his doors and signing to a label is inevitable at this point. He's been in a handful of fashion lookbooks over the past few years and is sponsored by Stüssy and 10 Deep.
My Everlasting Zeal features 14 original tracks produced by Commissioner Gordon, J.Cole, Soundtrakk (Lupe Fiasco's "Kick Push" and "Superstar"), Omen, 1120, Prolyfic, and King Mez himself. The album will be available for free online and Mez will be giving away download cards at the Kings Barcade show on June 2nd. The new album still has that mixtape feel that The Paraplegics accomplished so well. Songs stand on their own but weave together quite well to tell a story of a young man growing into his identity and rhyming about the things that he finds very important in his life.
We may lose King Mez like we've lost a handful of other hip hop artists in the past few years, but it's worth it. One of the most sincere and kind persons you will ever have a conversation with, Mez is a talent that is outgrowing the local hip hop scene and deserves to shoot for the stars.
And shooting for the stars is what will happen on stage at Kings Barcade on June 2nd when we host King Mez's album release party with our friends Raleigh Denim. Mez is bringing along a handful of his favorite local artists, including J. Capri, Drique London, Lute and Thee Tom Hardy to perform along side of him to celebrate My Everlasting Zeal's release. There will be a photo booth set up for everyone to take photos to document the night and Raleigh Denim will be giving away some jeans to the best photos, as will be voted on during the week after the show on their Facebook page (more on that soon).
Check out King Mez's stylish video for his single Reign, off of My Everlasting Zeal, and download Reign here. Also, as pre-album teasers, you can download Mez's newest single Mone Carlo here and the J. Cole produced track, The Allure, here.