When we first introduced YNW Melly, the Gifford, Florida native also known as Jamell Demons, had recently been released from jail after serving a stint for a shootout near his Vero Beach High School campus. He then promptly dropped a video for Virtual (Blue Balenciagas), a song in which he discusses sticking up a convenience store in nun attire, harmonizes about the aforementioned shootout and boasts about letting his .40 rang as he catches an enemy and watches the blood spill on his blue designer kicks.
Since the song’s release, the 19-year-old has graduated from upstart emcee with a regional buzz to a bonafide budding superstar whose since garnered millions of views on YouTube, been arrested once again, interviewed with some of the game’s most notable outlets, including No Jumper and most recently dropped his debut album, I Am You, an introductory project that that features no other artists frankly because Melly doesn’t need help cranking out hits.
On I Am You, Melly solidifies himself as the closet thing the game has to another Young Thug, who in 2018, is playing the role of pappy to some of hip hop’s newest stars. Look no further than the rise of affiliates Gunna and Lil’ Baby as proof. A musical genius who cranks out emotional ballads that navigate the topics of violence/love and his relationship with the YNW collective, including Trell, an incarcerated member of the group who Melly shouts out time and time again on the project, Melly wasted no time delivering on his first full-length project, which shows off his versatility at its best.
Flexing his musical muscles throughout, Melly opens the tape with “I Am You,” kicking off the album with 808s thumping in the background and having a conversation with his girl about getting on the track, “Knee deep in that water, need a surfboard Wipe them tears off your face, what you cryin' for? What the hell, what the hell are you mad for?What, what are, you mad for? Tell me baby, what are you mad for? Wipe them tears off your face, what you sad for? I give you everything you ask for. So tell me why the hell are you mad for?” He then follows up with “Virtual,” before showing off his range on “Risk Taker,” where he lights up a flute-heavy Atlanta-styled instrumental by experimenting with several different sounds, using his voice as a collaborative instrument and serenading fans in several different tones while flipping his flow numerous times and showing off his skills sans autotune.
After an impressive start to the album, he hits a homerun with his ode to Gucci Mane on “Freaky Girl,” where he interpolates the original version of the song with his version and impressively weaves his way through several different flows, something that is a constant in his music. Next comes my personal favorite, “YNW Home Invasion.” Nobody and I mean nobody can make a song about running up in somebody's crib sound so beautiful, as he harmozies throughout the track, bigging up YNW, inspiring listeners with lyrics tailored for hustling whilst touching on his relations with women. Starting off the song by announcing his keep, “Thirty-five racks on the living room floor, we just came up on a home invasion. Whole lot of money on money for real 'cause all of my niggas cash motivated,” Melly makes you feel as if you’re right there on the couch, smoking a big bleez and enjoying the fruits of the jugg. He then introduces more concepts to the hook, begging for his girl not to give up on him and telling her how desperately he needs her love. If you needed a crash course on Young Nigga World, and everything that comes with it, this is the song.
Continuing to delve into the topics of of love, pain and murder, Melly penns the perfect prison lullaby on “Mama Cry,” a song dedicated to his mother, apologizing for his past transgressions that landed him behind bars and promising to right his wrongs while a beat that sounds like school aged fists pounding on the lunchroom table blares in the background. He then puts together a makeup sex anthem with “Wine 4 Me,” a track laced with heavy Caribbean drum patterns in which he apologizes to his woman for being out of line sometimes and then vividly explains how to make it right, takes you on a romantic journey with “4Real,” and then swags out “Drop Top,” a fast-paced anthem that will have you hanging out of ya sunroof, cruising through residential neighborhoods at breakneck speeds..
Thanks to his versatility, Melly is never once outshined by his instrumentals, coexisting with the production as if he made it himself, basically making the beat his own, not to be remixed.
Closing out the album with a bang, Melly tops off his masterpiece with “In the Morning,” “Free Trell,” “Had a Dream,” “Murder On My Mind,” his first regionally successful song and a record in which he details shooting a friend, before reversing roles in “Mind on My Murder and finishing the project with “Slang That Iron -- which turns Chris Brown’s hit, Say Goodbye,” into a beautiful melody about toting guns and not being afraid to use them.
Overall YNW Melly expertly displayed his brilliance on I Am You, as he gave fans of his music exactly what they were looking for while showing off his talents to a world of new ones. With a proper introduction to the game, the Gunshine State rookie is bound to continue making waves.