Mero - Ya Hero Ya Mero (Review)

Martin_Canine
MERO
Ya Hero Ya Mero
★★★★½

The hybrid of talent and catchiness German hip hop needed so desperately

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Since 2017, German hip hop completely changed its direction. While Kollegah’s extreme show-off of multisyllabic rhyming, doubletime raps and word play paired with ultra-masculine, violent imagery set the tone for the first few years of the decade and was the most copied style of the genre, the combined success of Bonez MC, RAF Camora and Capital Bra established a new direction that combined the American trap genre (that itself became popular through Fler in 2016) with the French Afrotrap and built multi-platinum careers around autotuned earworm choruses, summer hit-ready dancehall beats and a certain street aesthetics. While touching on mainstream territory was frowned upon before, this new generation of rappers dived deep into pure pop bliss, most of them singing rather rapping. Not only did they change the entire sound more or less overnight, they also impacted how music is consumed in the German hip hop genre. Before, people who liked a German hip hop song went to the store and bought the CD of the album it is on, resulting in chart topping albums but barely successful singles. Two years later, people stream the individual songs, which leads to a large number of chart topping singles - so many that Capital Bra just surpassed the Beatles as the artist with the most number 1 hits in both Germany and Austria. And suddenly, artists such as Bushido, Kollegah, Farid Bang, Kay One, Shindy or Summer Cem, who all had long lasting careers before, also managed to land huge single hits that they didn't have despite being household names.

Naturally, the two generations of hip hop fans aren’t as friendly towards each other: the one side says that this new style is barely hip hop anymore and that the artists can’t really rap, while the other one says the older fans cling to outdated ideas and aren’t as musical. It felt like it was time for an artist that combines the qualities of both subgenres to finally end this debate whether it is better to unleash mad rap skill or deliver danceable hits. In the case of Mero, we don’t need to ask this question, because
A. goddamn, can this boy rap!
and
B. man, does he know how to make earworm choruses!

For a couple of months, Mero’s hit songs Baller los, Hobby Hobby and Wolke 10 have been inescapably played out loud in the yards, and are loved by people for all different kinds of reasons. What this young man showed on his first few songs is an exciting mixture of highly skilled traditional rapping and the vocoder-heavy radio killer hooks of his recent fellow trappers. Fast paced machine gun flows with unexpected rhymes build the verses, but once the refrain kicks in, it is almost impossible not to chant along. Now, he is here with his debut album Ya Hero Ya Mero, one of the most anticipated releases of 2019, and it’s twelve songs full of these treats. Having picked beyond cool, high quality trap bangers (only two songs, Wolke 10 and Träume werden wahr, can be classified as Afrotrap) that will make you shake your braids as beats, we get a deep look into what the most promising newcomer of the moment has in store for us. And it doesn’t disappoint.

An artist like Mero felt much needed in German hip hop, so that it’s finally legit for oldschool fans to rock out to pop hooks, while trap also gets its share of sick techniques. And the transition happens so fluently that some of the listeners probably don’t even realize they’re slowly going out of their comfort zone. At parts, Mero switches from out-of-this-world doubletime parts to modern trap flows halfway through the verse, changing the time signature flawlessly, as can be heard on Mill’n. He does it so well that it is hard to catch at first listen, but he does it.

Mero knows naturally what he is good at, and he goes on full throttle at that while completely throwing overboard unnecessary elements that would only distract. The record is 12 songs of pure flexing, backed up by incredible talent that he showcases all the way through. When all is said and done often enough, the song just ends and the next one begins. For the most tracks, that means a simple structure in which two technically superb verses and three sing along choruses alter over a well crafted beat. But what he packs into that formula is executed so exceptionally well that the time just flies by and you can barely wait for what’s coming up next.

In the end, Ya Hero Ya Mero is a nonstop highly entertaining mix of songs that should keep fans of German hip hop absolutely satisfied, no matter what subgenre they prefer. It sure helps Mero that he decides to not rely on gimmicks and instead appears all naturally, as a young aspiring artist who just likes to rap and sing fun tunes, giving him neither an affinity towards a certain scene nor something to target him for. The only drop of bitterness is that the party is over at just over 32 minutes, which is fairly short for a German hip hop album. But then again, the songs all have a huge replay value, and it never feels like the songs haven’t been fully developed. The world can be very excited for what this new face in the rap landscape will present to us in the future.

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