From Juice WRLD and Cupcakke to Noname and Saba, there is a rising generation of Chicago rappers who are introducing a fresh and introspective sound to the historic city. Mykele Deville is the latest artist to put on for his hometown with his fourth album Maintain (via No Trend Records), exclusively premiering three days early on Billboard today (Feb. 19).
Maintain may only feature seven tracks, but they are all overflowing with topics that tackle the ongoing hardships that come with being a Black person in a Trump America. Deville, who is also a poet and activist, uses his passion for racial equality to weave tear-stricken lyrics about the intensity of social injustices on “Whispers”: “Can I wear my hood in the moonlight?/ Maybe then Black boys will look blue/ Do you have to count your disguises?/ If not, who’s hiding from you?”
The 29-year-old rapper also exposes his tender heart, spitting vulnerable lines like “Self-worth, I wish I could’ve learned it first/ The inner type that’s internal, not external,” on the Daryn Alexus-featured “Type Love.” By the album’s end, you will feel tinges of hope while simultaneously knowing there is more work to be done to lift oppression.
“I wrote Maintain as a message to black folk. That message is to continue. Continue living loudly. Continue to be critical of this country and it’s methods of dealing with you. Continue learning new ways to love every part of yourself despite your programming,” Deville tells Billboard about the album. “Continue to revere the struggle and the story trailing you like a shadow. Just continue. On this record, I interrogate myself and my ability to withstand the danger and cynicism of this time as a means to invite other marginalized bodies to do the same. Maybe within that examination a solution or dogma or mantra will arise and aid in personal healing and ultimately survival. For me, that was Maintain.”
Stream Maintain three days early below.