Music critics love using the word “angular” to describe the work of jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. Frankly, I don’t really know what they mean by “angular,” but I don’t fault them for that. Sound is incredibly difficult to describe, and certainly there’s nothing easy or straightforward about Monk’s melodies; they’re slow and methodical, nuanced and unpredictable. Listening to his 1963 album Monk’s Dream, I invariably tilt my head without realizing it until my ears are practically parallel to the floor. I guess I prefer “slanted” to “angular,” but “angular” is just fine.
“Pull Up,” the new single from R&B, hip-hop artist DAVESTATEOFMIND, has the same head-tilting effect on me. It’s built on a quiet piano motif that could’ve been sliced out of one of Monk’s compositions. But it’s my astonishment, not a dubious “angular” quality, that has me cricking my neck.
What’s impressive about DAVESTATEOFMIND is his range of abilities. In the first ninety seconds of “Pull Up,” I was under the impression that this would be a display of voice. Which I was totally fine with. Out the gate, DAVESTATEOFMIND makes it clear that he can sing, that he’s got soul. I could listen to a whole album of his handsome voice swooping up and down and pirouetting around while I try not to swoon.
But he’s also got lyrical chops. In the second verse, he spits lines at breakneck speed, and I swear he doesn’t breathe between the first chorus and the interlude that comes after the second verse.
But is he saying anything interesting? Better than interesting, it’s original. “Pull Up” is part fantasy, part homage to ridesharing drivers, part love song. The phrase “Pull Up” refers to, at once, his devotion as a lover, Uber employee, and car owner.
It’s rare to find so much talent rolled up into one artist. Rappers who can’t sing often recruit vocalists to appear in their songs, and vice versa. And, of course, some famous performers are just that, performers with ghostwriters.
DAVESTATEOFMIND is the complete package, the real deal.