Album review: '13' by MAHD 

Detroit-born emcee MAHD told MT back in August that he wanted to make music which would reach both the “trap” and the “boom bap” crowds. He talked about how his upcoming album would show growth while maintaining the same lyrical integrity and witty wordplay he’s known for. Enter 13, the album that MAHD is betting will make you take him more seriously. He’s still underground, still hungry, and he still has the same team, which means rising superstar producer Awilltraxx is behind the overall sound.

After a quick intro, the album jumps off with “Gorgeous Chick,” the bounce-heavy first single that was released last summer. Though the title suggests otherwise, the track is not about women, but more about MAHD’s aspirations to make a good life by dedicating himself to his music. He raps that “All night I’m locked in/Earning my stripes like Top Tens/ Ya’ll focused on the club records, getting boxed in/While I drop haymakers like I’m boxing.”

Success, focus, and grinding are all topics introduced in the first track. And if you were to guess that they might reappear later, you’d be correct.

The melodic keys and constant claps make “Got Damn” a straight head-nodder. MAHD goes into storytelling mode here, explaining how he met his child’s mother. He starts with the puppy love sentiments of when a love is new and ends with a relationship on the rocks, his mistakes, and cellphone hacks. “Can’t Believe” keeps the story going as the emcee exposes and explores the trials of trying to raise a child despite the drama, and the mistakes she made after some progress. The chorus sums it up best, “Can’t believe we made it work/Can’t believe you made it worst.”

The imagination doesn’t have to work overtime to guess what “Throw’d” is about. The song is a trap version of DJ Quik’s “Tonite” with a twisting and haunting instrumental that works well, while “Out” is nothing more or less than album filler.

“We Rollin” has an average beat painted with above-average rhymes. It highlights some of MAHD’s best lyrical skills on the album as he raps, “We drink these spirits until our strength is heightened/It’s like forget this license/We goin’ drive you crazy for our enlightenment.”

You’ll wish “Witcha Doe” was longer than it is, as MAHD goes hard over a smooth harmonious beat for about 24 bars. A clever instrumental passage brings the song to a close followed by the overwhelmingly inspiring “Like I Made it.” MAHD gets all introspective as he thanks God for opportunity, admits mistakes, and talks obstacles — all in between a catchy hook from K. Young.

One of MAHD’s signature songs, “Hello Detroit,” brings the album to an unflappable close. The track is boastful but humble, and succeeds at building pride for the Motor City without being too “Detroit vs. Everybody”-ish. He raps, “Hello Detroit, a beautiful ugly/When it comes to overcoming there is no one about thee/ The gritty is pretty when you come to my city/Make sure you use your mind/Might not make it if you’re not witty.”

As a whole, this is another big step up for the emcee. It’s a better-produced album, better-sounding, and MAHD’s lyrics and subject matter show advancement. He still doesn’t want you to know he’s Black Milk’s little brother (peep that there is no guest appearance by the emcee), leaving us to judge 13 on its own merits. Detroiters are lucky to be witnessing an emcee coming into his prime here. Let’s see if the rest of the world takes notice.

More by Kahn Santori Davison

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