By the time Mickey Woods Jr. introduced himself to me nearly two years ago, I had been listening to and appreciating his music on Soundcloud for months. Initially drawn in by something his genuine style of lyricism offered, I eventually found out that “something” was just Mickey; and the same genuine quality resonates through his entire person. After an interview or two, I learned that Mickey Woods Jr. has a divine gift, something important to share with the world.
Oh - also learned that you get two free passes to forget the "Jr." (Sidenote: if you catch Mickey in person ask him to do his 3rd Coast Savior intro, it is literally one of the dopest things ever.)
Fast forward a bit into 2017 by which time Woods put on a number of phenomenal performances and one in particular, our Submission Sundays LIVE show (and yes, that was a shameless plug) marked the start of a creative journey for Mickey Woods Jr. and producer Tony Dark.
What happened next is nothing short of amazing; Navy Blue EP.
Before we get too deep into our discussion about Navy Blue EP, I’d like to speak a bit about The Navy Blue Listening Party that Woods and Dark held in Houston (at Lucille's) alongside DJ Big Reeks, The Waxaholics and a venue full of supporters. As these things tend to go, genuine people receive genuine love and support and Navy Blue EP's first entrance into the public was overflowing with just that - genuine love and support; not only for Navy Blue EP, but for the two artists, themselves. Even with a packed house, the first listen to the EP felt as intimate as any one-on-one ordeal would. Attendees stood near speakers, locked in to every moment of the project even on the second and third time around. Navy Blue EP, was released for streaming that same evening and I spent most of my night just listening, in awe. All that to make this point, the world’s first official experience of the Navy Blue EP was perfecting fitting of the project itself.
Check out photos from the event courtesy of Jarele Taylor, below.
Okay, let's get to singing some praises for this music!
Navy Blue EP is an example of collective creative greatness particularly in the way Dark’s multifaceted production perfectly positions Woods’ unique sound and lyrical ability. After going back and forth, round and round with a track by track breakdown I discovered that I am still digesting Navy Blue EP, daily. Depending on my mood, what day it is and the circumstances of my current place in life, "The Shelter" and "Introvert" hit home a little different with each listen as do "Untitled" and "Feeding The Youth".
Despite my personal feelings, a few constants remain through every listen to Navy Blue EP; lyrically it shows Mickey Woods Jr.'s confidence in his truth, sonically it shows Tony Dark’s ability to produce a unique sound that fits like a glove and collectively it shows the ease in which Woods and Dark create a lane with endless possibilities from an unbeaten path. Together, these two created a work of art that goes above and beyond any of the (super crazy outrageous) high expectations that I had prior to hearing Navy Blue EP
In just eight tracks Mickey Woods Jr. shares a piece of himself with the world.
The gravity in his words commands attention the instant that "Intro" begins and complemented by his transparent expression, holds on until the final moment of "Navy Blue Remix". From seeking answers, sharing knowledge, looking within and speaking on what’s going on around him, Woods laid his soul bare during every second of the project.
Me: Hey Mickey, on Apple Music it says "Be Something" where your record label would be listed, whats that?
Mickey: Well to be honest, when I was uploading the EP to all the streaming platforms they kept asking me for a label name and I didn’t know what to put. Then I thought about that part at the end of the song “Navy Blue” that goes “everybody wanna be something”. And since I’m not signed to a label or anything I was thinking about what I would name my own label if I had one. I thought “Be Something” would be perfect. I was gonna make it “Be Something Records” or something like that but I thought it sounded wack so I just went with "Be Something"
As each verse, hook or break comes and goes, from provoking thought through quick bars to eliciting emotion with his raw, mellow croon, the clarity of thought and conviction Woods displays on Navy Blue EP shakes me up. Every time. The most amazing kind of shaken up that takes me to unfamiliar territory just before it serves as what feels like my own personal mirror. With just one (very dope and immaculately placed) feature by Dinero Sinatra, the entire EP is like reading pages straight from Woods’ diary. It is completely personal without being one dimensional; a rare feat that creates a space equally easy to relate to and open for interpretation.
“Navy Blue gives me a strong sense of nostalgia from my childhood. I’m wearing it in almost all of the pictures I have of me as a kid. Also, to me it represents something deeper than the surface (like how the further you go down into the ocean, the more the water seems to be a darker shade of blue), it represents warmth and comfort. It reminds me of that feeling you feel when you take your clothes out of the dryer and they’re still warm. So long story short, I feel like it best represents me in my most comfortable state.”
Being fairly familiar with his style of rhyming didn’t prepare my ears or mind for the way Mickey Woods Jr. is so unapologetic as he showcases a new, more introspective, no holds barred type of lyrical execution on the Navy Blue EP. Lyrical execution that flawlessly floats over Dark’s distinctive and truly hip-hop sonic landscape.
Tony Dark consistently challenges himself and raises the bar as a producer, his work on Navy Blue EP makes that ever apparent. Throughout the EP Dark surfaces elements of classic hip-hop with a fresh approach in a way only he can. With ridiculously close attention to detail and fluidity, Dark created a sound southern enough to showcase Woods’ Port Arthur roots and well-rounded enough to avoid limiting their final product to any geographical barriers.
There are plenty outstanding production aspects of Navy Blue EP but what I find most impressive is that just like Mickey Woods Jr.’s lyricism, Tony Dark’s production is just naturally dynamic. Perfectly simple yet impressively complex, at all the right times. Every time I play a track from the EP I find another well-placed piece of Dark's sound to love. It is powerful without being overbearing. Woods’ words stand in the light during every moment of the EP with Dark’s foundation backing them like the dopest, most supportive, bearded hype-man ever in the history of hype-men.
Navy Blue EP provides an honest, meaningful perspective that often goes missing from music - particularly a lot of hip-hop music, today. To be concise (is it too late to be concise? Whatever.), it is something you need to hear. While I don’t intend to be vague, breaking down every second of the EP would be a disservice because the most moving parts of it are found in each listeners own takeaways. Whether or not you are familiar with Mickey Woods Jr. and Tony Dark, take 23 minutes to sit with Navy Blue EP . In the car, at home, outside, wherever you take in new sounds; it will be worth every minute. I guarantee you will revisit the EP plenty of times and if you are anything like me, you’ll find new meaning and more to appreciate with each listen.
You can get Navy Blue EP, here.