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“Set the Tone” by The Real Meladee

In her latest single, the rightly titled “Set the Tone,” rapper The Real Meladee further defines her style and pens a rather reserved tune still somehow worthy of a hot club soundtrack just as much as it is a casual hip-hop playlist. For those who aren’t already aware of this talented player’s most recent works, Meladee has been experiencing a whirlwind season with a sleeper hit in “Birkin” and now the debut of “Set the Tone,” the latter of which embodies the spirit of modern experimental trap much more than the former does. Those who came looking for a stereotypical, chest-beating stadium-shaker of the more standard variety can turn back now because what this artist has made in this new song has almost nothing in common with the mundane sounds of the mainstream.

This bassline is pretty physical, and in its boisterous rigidity, it conveys a lot of unspoken attitude that I probably wouldn’t have noticed were it not stylized the way that it was. It’s not so big that it would shatter the windows in your car, but it’s got enough beefiness to keep drill fans engaged amidst all of the rhythmic textures that come flooding out of the other instruments in the track.

The passion that we hear in Meladee’s lead vocal is amplified by the vague echo of the beats here, and although I don’t think that she needed to put as much space between them as she did, I can see where she was probably trying to give the nucleus in “Set the Tone” some extra room to captivate us closer to the midway point in the song. Everything about this track was deliberately arranged to push us to the edge of our seats regardless of how many times we’ve heard the hook, and that’s not an easy task for any artist to pull off.

I would have liked to hear a little more varnish on the chorus in “Set the Tone,” but those who appreciate a DIY feel to their indie hip-hop will find this part of the mix to be one of the more eclectic and stimulating junctures of the song. You can’t accuse The Real Meladee of minimizing a juggernaut in this single, but I do think there’s a good chance that this composition could be extended into a jam that would have everyone from dance addicts to stereo-worshiping audiophiles moving in perfect synchronicity with the rhythm of the verses in a crowded concert hall.

After listening to this new single from The Real Meladee, I’m even more determined to see her live sometime soon. She’s got such an amazing energy about her, such an approachable tone of voice that it’s almost like she was born to take over center stage and the bright spotlight that comes with it. “Set the Tone” is another hit in a string of really entrancing releases from Meladee, and if it manages to get into steady rotation anywhere on the American FM dial this month, I would bet everything I’ve got on her sound entering the mainstream within the next year or two.

Mindy McCall



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