With warrior-poet intensity, Los Angeles singer/songwriter Mereba opens her AZEB EP with the defiant track “Aye.” On it, the sharp-tongued rapper hypes herself up against the war that is everyday life — but even at her most volatile, Mereba carefully draws her strength from her resilience rather than itchy combativeness. “I’m tryna master peace,” she rhythmically speaks, “There are buds on my fingertips growing beautiful things / There are thieves on my pillow plucking my peace while I sleep.” Mereba chooses the high road, chooses to find power in herself rather than using her struggles as an excuse to lord it over others. AZEB, titled after Mereba’s middle name which means where the Sun rises, is all about creating a space of lightness for the dark moments of life.
On “Rider,” Mereba makes the case that the greatest salve for the soul is love, airing out her lofty vocals against a lush backdrop of jovial beats and instrumentation. The us-against-the-world sentiments are continued on the clapped-beats and winding lyricism of “Beretta”; while on “My Moon” Mereba’s ghostly cries help pen a solemn love letter of such tender passion. Then there’s the spacey, folk-tinged piece “No News,” a song that aches over the treatment of BIPOC in this country, opening with the sobering lines: “Freedom for my people is urgent / Tell me who are you serving?”
Straddling the dualities of pain and anger Mereba and her people feel, she pulls no punches in reminding others that the price paid by people of color doesn’t just happen when it’s flooding social media or going viral — everyday war is waged upon them simply because of the color of their skin. “We’re diamonds under the dirt here / System don’t deserve us,” Mereba bites, echoing the kind of gritty perseverance that she so virulently demands of herself on “Aye.”
AZEB gives voice to the coalescing sense of frustration people have with the systems that divide us, but it’s also an urgent reminder that to even begin toppling those systems requires us to look inward first — to find something to hold onto in the darkness. Mereba finds love. Love for people. Love in music. Love in the potential of herself and people to create something beautiful where there has only been pain and oppression.
Listen to Mereba’s AZEB EP below!