Mykki Blanco Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep Transgressive
It’s been a long five years since Mykki Blanco released their debut studio album, and they have been sorely missed. While a smattering of notable guest appearances have never kept them too far out of mind, a scene-stealing hook or verse is not their ideal canvas. They are simply too engrossing, too idiosyncratic, and have too much to say to be condensed into second-long snippets.
Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep is billed as a mini LP, but it is among the most immersive releases of their career. It is also, unquestionably, their most consummately musical; where 2016’s Mykki was a refined take on their earlier rap projects, Broken Hearts is a confident melange of genres, styles, and collaborations that pushes Blanco into places we’ve never even imagined them going.
Lead single Free Ride is exemplary of the project’s effortless fusion, combining gospel choir vocals, silky rhymes from Blanco, and a beat that oscillates between house keyboards and rap snares. Want from Me evokes lush trip hop but replaces lo-fi haze for arresting singing and a guitar breakdown, and It’s Not My Choice makes the most of a Blood Orange feature by diving into saxophone-backed balladry.
The wholehearted commitment to experimentation is enough to make up for the moments where it doesn’t always work. Trust a Little Bit plays with interesting elements without ever coalescing into something worthwhile, and That’s Folks ends the project on a bit of a dour note – particularly considering a joint with Big Freedia had the potential to be significantly more invigorating.
But Summer Fling alone salves any misgivings one might have. It’s brash, catchy and imprints the best of Blanco’s songwriting skills (evoking coconut ice cream, Cali shrooms and hamster-smelling dick in a single verse is just pure brilliance). It confirms that – beyond rap and performance art – Blanco is a proper musician too.