Although I have only recently found out about Stockton, California rapper MBNel, I immediately knew he had a very important story to tell so I knew I had no choice but to listen up. Growing up in such a violent, dangerous neighborhood, many people don’t have much of a choice when it comes to life in the streets. They’re born into the situation and don’t typically have the resources to get out, so not only do they have to resort to things they might not be proud of, but they also have to watch the ones they’re closest to reach untimely demises and pray that they’re not next. Although this might sound harsh, it’s very true, and it’s a narrative that MBNel works hard to get away from but also one that he’ll never forget no matter how successful he becomes.
In order to garner some hype around his upcoming project Child of the Trenches II EP which is set to release later this month on the 25th, he decided to gift fans with the EP’s lead single entitled “Thru the Night”. Once again, considering I was fairly unfamiliar with the up and comer leading up to this, I had no idea what to expect but I can say with the utmost confidence that after listening, I truly understand why he has been getting the looks and attention that people have been giving him.
As the beat begins, filtered synths and emotive piano keys are being played before he comes in and begins to spit his bars as some prattling percussion and resounding 808s take the forefront of the instrumental. MBNel’s voice is clearly emotional and you understand that he means every word he half-sings, half-raps, but there is the sense of numbness that is evident considering the sheer amount of tragedies he has most likely had to deal with throughout his upbringing. The autotune on his voice complements his delivery without overpowering it, singling out the melodiousness of his vocals while also preventing his words from getting too muddy or unclear.
He switches up his flows a few times throughout this track, which is as impressive as it is notable, and some of the cadences he opts to go with are very reminiscent of the ones that certain Chicago Drill artists have made popular. Considering he has cited certain artists like G Herbo, Lil Durk, and Lil Bibby as inspirations in the past, this influence shines through loud and clear but doesn’t come off as if he’s biting their styles but rather paying homage to some living legends who have motivated him and his music. Throughout the almost four-minute run time of this song, MBNel proves why he’s a force to be reckoned with as he takes us on a sonic journey talking about some of the lowest and darkest moments from his life in the streets as well as gives listeners some newfound hope and inspiration to get out of whatever rut they may find themselves in.
Although many people, unfortunately, had to grow up in a similar setting as MBNel, it’s not always easy for people to talk about their experiences. That’s why when MBNel decided to not only remember the things that molded him into the person he is today but put these things into his music as well, we all had to know that we were in for a treat. Child of the Trenches II is set to boast six heartfelt, emotional, and hard-nosed songs that are a must-listen for anyone who is a fan of storytelling within Rap music, and once again, we can expect this project in a few weeks on September 25th. Hopefully, we can expect to be gifted some more singles or music videos leading up to the EP, but “Thru the Night” is a great placeholder while we wait, so make sure you give this brand-new single a spin as soon as you possibly can.