Song Of The Week: "Call On" - Mez ft. Kurtis Wells

Mez's trademark eeriness reaches a new stage of evolution. Also: Charlie Smarts drops a remix, and Shame and Reuben Vincent debut new videos.

Song Of The Week: "Call On" - Mez ft. Kurtis Wells

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When seemingly well-adjusted people make dark, emotionally strained art, critics and fans alike can understandably — whether they like the art or not — find themselves questioning the incentives and motives that might be at play behind the scenes. From Van Goh to Cobain to Kanye, the allure of the tortured artist has endured for as long art itself, and so too has the implicit understanding that there's money to be made in the kind of mildly (or supremely) unnerving themes from which audiences can't seem to look away. Disturbing art can be painfully real, but it can also be a facade, or worse yet, a ruse — creative window dressing used to convey a depth and complexity that isn't really there.

And yet for L.A.-based, Raleigh-raised emcee Mez — whose best music over the past 10 years has often been marked by an eerie, foreboding quality that might otherwise seem contrived from someone with such a charming, sunny demeanor — the hint of darkness has never felt the slightest bit inauthentic or superficial.

One reason may be simply how long he's been doing it. Going back through his discography, from 2011's collaborative EP with Khrysis, and 2012 songs like "Reign" and "The Queen," all the way to his COLORS performance in 2022, one begins to wonder if Mez has ever encountered a creepy, minor chord-inflected sample he didn't love. (Funny coming from someone who can also lace an old-school, 90's-era beat like this.)

On his newest single, "Call On" — the first offering from his long-awaited Loading... EP — the affinity for ominousness is present once again, the uncanny knack for haunting backdrops and piercing delivery just the same. The only difference? After nearly a decade of being honed alongside some of the best ears and minds in music, those early sensibilities are now in their most polished, elevated form.