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Album review: Mekka Don soars beyond Ohio State roots with ‘Paradise EP’

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Rapper Mekka Don, an OSU alumnus and former member of the Ohio State football team, recently gained notoriety in Columbus for his single, “Let’s Go (O-H-I-O),” which was played at Ohio Stadium during warm-ups for Buckeye football games and performed by the artist during the Beat Michigan pep rally at the Ohio Union on Nov. 19.

Success like that is dangerous, though – Mekka Don could have been pigeonholed as an OSU football cheerleader. Concerns regarding a strictly “rah rah, OSU” agenda to his raps are dismissed early and often on his latest work, a five-track effort entitled “Paradise EP.”

With the help of DJ EV and catchy samples from recording artists including Coldplay, Ellie Goulding and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, The Paradise EP is fast-paced, energetic and a true success.

In addition to avoiding only passing references to OSU football, Mekka Don appears to hit on his other aspects of his personal narrative. An early-career choice to forego a potentially lucrative career in law and pursue rap is an intriguing tale, and he acknowledges the decision on “Paradise,” the EP’s opening track: “Although I’m loving the money I said ‘passion over pension.'”

The EP’s second track, “Keepin’ On,” is the kind of song that could get repetitious radio play due to popular demand. Mekka Don lays his speedy, clear lyrical delivery against the oft-sampled remix of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” – he nails it. The same goes for track No. 3, entitled “Heads Will Roll,” which features a sampling of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song of the same name.

The Paradise EP is also a showcase for Mekka Don’s propensity for different flows – he spits rhymes at a rapid pass on “Liu Kang.” Mekka Don closed out the EP with “Tired of Waiting,” a syrupy-slow beat when compared against the other four tracks, but one you can’t help but bump your head to.

“Paradise” and “Keepin’ On” are must-downloads, and the rest are all fine complements to your Mekka Don collection, which you should expect to grow rapidly based on his performance here.

Grade: B+  

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