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Do you remember when mixtapes were actually mixtapes, and not just albums in disguise? They sounded scattered on purpose, and usually contained a healthy mix of radio freestyles, rare B-sides, and album snippets. Maimouna Youssef‘s The Reintroduction of Mumu Fresh, out today, is a mixtape in the truest sense—a disjointed yet fluid assembly of reconfigured industry tracks about the not-so-glamorous aspects of everyday life. Take “Crunch ‘n’ Grub,” where Youssef turns Beyoncé‘s “Drunk in Love” into a welfare tale: “We woke up in the kitchen with some chicken, saying ‘thank God this happened,’ aww baby!” (Beyoncé should play this to lighten her week.)
And while you might be tired of Pharrell‘s “Happy”—it’s an awesome song, but geez—Youssef revives the track with clever lyrics about natural hair. “Clap along if you know that Africa’s in your roots,” she sings. “Clap along if you know that your hair looks good on you.” Elsewhere on the tape, Youssef revisits her early days as an MC and Wu-Tang follower; on “Release Yo’ Delf,” she uses Method Man‘s 1994 single to flex her own bars. “Triumph” is a five-minute shit-talking session with multiple MCs.
There’s no structure, and the rappers miss their cues at times, but those mishaps speak to the heart of this project. With Reintroduction, Youssef proves that she can have fun with her music and not be so serious; her 2011 album, The Blooming, was very good, but it made Youssef seem more somber than she is in reality. The Reintroduction of Mumu Fresh blends the well-timed spontaneity of her live performances with the thoughtful authenticity of her studio work. It’s relatable, carefree, and smart.
Stream or download the tape after the jump.