The.XS Collective's Mean finally returns with a follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 LP NSFW: Not Safe For Work - a stunning five-track effort that offers the most personal look into the MC's life and journey thus far.
Entitled By Any Means, this is the dapper rapper at his rawest and most relatable, "representing the determination to strive for better days." And this sonic insight into Mean's psyche isn't just as aural experience, it's a visual treat too.
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Each track on the EP has been recontextualized into five beautiful pieces of art done by five different acclaimed international artists. And if you'd like to own them, well you're in luck because limited edition framed prints of the exclusive single artworks are available for sale, alongside a CD version of the EP!
But if you'd like a digital copy, By Any Means is also up for download (at a generous "name your price" offer) and streaming on all digital music platforms starting from today. The record itself will be celebrated with a grand launch show at Canvas Club on Friday, 7 April.
Before then, we talked to Mean himself as he describes the inspirations and intentions behind his latest work for this in-depth track-by-track guide.
'Sweet Dreams (Love)'
Artwork by Kinder Williams
'Sweet Dreams' is a phone conversation between two lovers in a long distance relationship. And in this case, the song is a “lullaby” from me to the other party. This is the most honest and vulnerable side of me that i’ve always chosen to keep private. I just felt that I needed to express my emotions at a specific moment and the best way to do it is through a song. So, that’s how the song came about.”
Artwork by Justin Xia
'Trollin' addresses an actual experience I faced on social media. Not that I haven’t but I only then, realised how real cyber-bullying is, how helpless you can be online and how it could happen to anyone. In this song, I wanted to flip the negativity into something positive.
Funny story, I got connected with Judo on social media through a mutual friend whom I met when I performed during Laneway 2016. I had no idea who he was and we never spoke but we started talking, I found out that he rapped and before you know it, he’s on the track. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the EP.”
'Pull Up (Loyalty)'
Artwork by Polina Korobova
'Pull Up’'s the banger of the EP. A song that I want people to get wild to. It features Malaysia’s very own rising star Airliftz. I’ve been wanting to work with him even before he started to gain a following. I’m glad I finally made it happen.”
'Walk That Talk (Perseverance)'
Artwork by MingX
This song is the title track of the EP and mainly discusses the theme of the project; By Any Means. I wanted the song to be a motivational anthem for everyone.
The quote "By Any Means Necessary" is taken from a Malcolm X's speech and taken into context of the modern day society. It’s been a subtle reoccurring theme that I've mentioned in songs throughout my past projects like the In Flight EP and NSFW: Not Safe For Work album.
I feel that everyone has their own struggles and would do whatever it takes, by any means necessary to survive. We all hustle in our own ways to get by and provide for the ones we love or to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals and dreams. So in that sense, everyone can relate to this idea.”
'Grim Reaper (Success)'
Artwork by Marina A
'Grim Reaper' discusses the idea of hard work and success. The quote "You reap what you sow” is broken into two contexts; the biblical term and also harvesting. The biblical idea of justice/injustice and the literal idea of harvesting, putting in work to receive the crop. And in this song, I made it a point to note that we might not receive the returns in monetary form but in other ways, like recognition and appreciation.
This song has one of my favourite “writtens” to date. It might not seem like it but this song gets me the most emotional."