There are a number of factors that help Richmond, VA’s McKinley Dixon stand in a class of his own. First is his lyrics. Though slung with casual flow, lines like “I don’t mean to resist, so officer why’s your foot on my neck and my wrists?” strike like bullets. Dixon is an ambitious storyteller, having already released two of a planned mixtape trilogy that follows the chronicles of a young black boy who witnesses a drive-by in his neighborhood.
His fusion of rap and jazz, and performance with a live band, is a refreshing tonic to the ears, when so many rappers rely on programmed beats. The raw and organic music that carries his politically and socially conscious rhymes elevates his dynamic live performance. Beautiful songs like “The Everyday People” showcase incredible musicianship on top of haunting lyrics (“Stay blessed, they’re shooting baby birds right out of the nest”).
Equal parts Kendrick Lamar and The Roots, Dixon is brimming with potential to leave a mark on modern music. As he prepares for a tour taking him to SXSW, Dixon has just released an acoustic EP, featuring stripped-down versions of songs from his first two mixtapes, which you can listen to below.
Also worth checking out is one of my favorite tracks from his first mixtape, “The Everyday People”: