Moxie is the moniker of Mitchel Paulson, who is a rapper/alternative hip hop artist hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota. He has built up a dedicated fan base with his dynamic live performances, gigging across the Midwest for seven years with other hip hop artists, punk, rock and screamo bands, as well as DJs. He has performed with Prof and Blueprint, Coolio, Supastition, Unknown Prophets and John Wayne & The Pain, amongst many others.
He has so far released four albums before this one and his fifth Smile, beautiful consists of ten tracks. His music is essentially hip hop, with elements of many other genres like glitch, dubstep, electronica and rock/metal. His rapping style is emotional and intense, with a fierce honesty to his often confessional lyrics, which cover a wide range of subject matter.
Early highlights of the album for me were track two, Angel Wings ft. Jess Bro, and fourth track Goin Once, Goin Twice. Track five, Evil, is a real highlight, featuring a classical style piano melody set to a muscular beat and an instantly memorable chorus hook. Along with an Eminem-style rap delivery, the track also brought to mind Cypress Hill. This was my personal favourite on the album and would make a perfect single.
The following A Thousand Reasons ft. Jess Bro lays bare his family and emotional issues in an amazingly honest way, and gives the track a real impact. Untapped Potential maintains the intensity with a heartfelt reflection on wasted opportunities.
The title track which closes the album shows his rock/metal influence, rapping over a fearsome guitar riff on the verses and low end chords for the chorus. Lyrically, it’s a real call-to-arms and the most positive message on the album: ‘Tonight, we all revolt, unite from coast to coast, tonight we all revolt, we fight to save our souls, so smile, beautiful…’. It’s an effective hybrid of genres and a powerful way to finish.
Overall, this is a very fine album that stands apart from most generic hip hop due to its openness and sincerity, as well being finely crafted and produced. Moxie lays bare his soul fearlessly and takes the listener on a journey to some dark places, but also gives a message of hope. While hip hop and rap is full of male bravado, it is Moxie who shows real bravery and artistic courage in exposing his innermost feelings and turning it into gritty, cathartic music.
Verdict: 8.6 out of 10
Spotify: Moxie “Smile, beautiful.”