McKinley Dixon
Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?

(City Slang)


Named after the trilogy of novels from Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? is McKinley Dixon taking a beat, and a breath, after his intense, complex studio debut For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her.

On first listens, Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? can feel like another rich, busy-sounding album, but repeat listens showcase the progressive intent Dixon wanted to demonstrate this time around. “I was making these really dense and chaotic songs, stuffing whatever thought I had into five-and-a-half minutes,” he shares in the release notes. 

In Loud And Quiet’s review of that debut, we said that Dixon was “a string quartet away from baroque pop bedlam”. But here he is, organizing a fleet of live instrumentation (from keys to strings to gentle bass) with a focus that refines and complements his powerful lyrical energy. 

‘Sun, I Rise’ has the orchestral swells alongside Angelica Garcia’s deep, lustrous vocal but Dixon’s biting narration keeps it hard-hitting. ‘Mezzanine Trippin’ is more chaotic and desperate with a jagged staccato beat adding a Tyler the Creator ‘Yonkers’-era intensity. And ‘Run Run Run’ burns a bit brighter with crisp boom-bap percussion and twinkling piano lending the track a musical lightness that almost belies the seriousness of its gun crime commentary.

At this point, Dixon isn’t just an increasingly vital lyricist, he’s a conductor, arranger, and vivid storyteller who wonders and wanders but locks in with an instant, metronomic click. He might have been more selective here but his stories aren’t diminished for it.