[14 October 2010]
Bei Maejor (pronounced “bee may-jor”) is a 23-year-old wunderkind who has made a name for himself in a relatively short time, producing artists like Ginuwine, Chrisette Michelle, Ghostface Killah, and Monica.His collaborations with Trey Songz on each of that artist’s three albums, particularly “Black Roses” from Ready, made me interested to hear what a Bei Maejor release sounds like.
As it turns out, it sounds like pretty much like everything else that is on the radio and television right now. This is likely because Upside Down , the obligatory free “mixtape” to whet the public’s appetite before the official release, contains quite a few guest appearances by artists like Drake, T-Pain, and Keri Hilson. These guests add nothing to the proceedings, other than that they all tout Bei Maejor as the next big thing.
The thing is, they are not wrong. The first four songs, dubbed “The Upside Down Story,” are the greatest showcase for Bei Maejor’s skills as a producer, singer, rapper, and songwriter. His slightly digitized falsetto on “End of the Night” is gorgeous, and perfectly meshes with the piano work. “Kisses in the VIP” has a lovely melody and nicely arranged vocals. However, the real treasure here is the six-minute “Barbershop Talk (The Explanation)”. It is the closest thing to a great Slick Rick song that anyone who is not Slick Rick has yet made. The story about hooking up with the married mother of his girl is playful and inventively conveyed over a classic break-beat.
The rest of the mixtape sounds like any young black entertainer under the age of 26. The songs are likely demos written with other artists in mind. They are not necessarily bad, but unlike the first four tracks, they don’t display as much of who Bei Maejor is as an artist. Still, Upside Down is free and there is enough good material on it to warrant a download.