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“Walk the Line” by Jimmy Mack

There’s a lot more focus on instrumentation in hip-hop right now than there has been in years past, and in his new single “Walk the Line,” Jimmy Mack develops a narrative that owes as much to the track’s sonic depth as it does Mack’s poetic skillset. Right from the moment we press play forward, it’s obvious that we’re in for something significantly more emotional than the standard in pop music these days, but what transpires as “Walk the Line” continues immerses us in ominousness and dread through melodic schemes designed to put us in the shoes of this lyrical protagonist. It’s powerful, and a worthwhile listen this spring. 

These lyrics exude an introspection that only comes through deep meditation, and I think it’s really obvious that Mack put a lot of his soul into this composition. The countrified melodies that he raps over are a point of contrast to explicit to be ignored, and although this mix is a lot tighter around the chorus than it is in the main verses, it never feels like we’re moving towards a singular hook as opposed to hearing a story unfold. This isn’t amateur hour, but instead a demonstration of talent as rich as I’ve heard all year long. 

The deeper political tone of the music video left me especially moved when I sat down with “Walk the Line” for the first time, and unlike a lot of similar content I’ve seen in the past couple of years, this doesn’t feel particularly forced nor aesthetically dependent on familiar cosmetics we’ve already seen play out in other pop videos. There’s a dark cloud hanging over the horizon for this story, but Mack isn’t running away from it – he’s pointing it out to the audience, and asking that we acknowledge its very presence in this performance. 

Jimmy Mack gets very personal with his lyrical delivery particularly towards the conclusion of “Walk the Line,” but he avoids the pitfalls that come with an insular execution, as many of you reading this have already come in contact with in the last few months of following indie hip-hop. The pandemic didn’t just foster a comeback for DIY production styles, but a general sense of isolation within everything from poetry to the depth of a master mix, but I think it’s had the opposite effect for this player. His new single feels full-bodied, both artistically and stereophonically. 

Hip-hop is changing in amazing ways in the 2020s, with the introduction of more melodic componentry as well as a diversification of foundation that is bringing a lot of alternative content to the surface where we might not have ever heard it otherwise, and I like the fusion of influences Jimmy Mack is flexing in “Walk the Line.” He’s got his own signature sound here that isn’t made in reference to another era in the history of this genre, and what’s more is that he’s incorporating a surreal quality that brings us closer to the story he wants to tell. It’s high-caliber content, and exactly what I wanted to hear as a hip-hop fan this April. 

Mindy McCall



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