Mark Asari makes his solo debut with the mixtape, Mark My Words. The London singer, formerly of R&B group Encore, offers a selection of solid soulful cuts, featuring appearances from some of the UK’s freshest emerging artists and producers. The 8-track collection takes a look at the idea of personal aspirations, ranging from superficial desires, to a more deeply rooted pursuit of ones dreams. Musically, the mixtape has classic R&B flavour; there are obvious nods to the popular R&B sounds of the 80s and 90s.
The Wizzy Wow produced, “Clockwork” is a smooth track with a dense, murky bassline perfect for the club, or the car (or indeed the car-ride to the club).The song is a depiction of the relentless pursuit of money, fame, and all the material trappings of success. It features sound vocals from Asari, and an appearance from up-and-coming south London rapper Yungen. With its pretty girls and fast cars lyrics, “Clockwork” revisits the R&B sounds made famous by artists like 112 and Joe in the late 90s and early 2000s. The song introduces the mixtape’s overall US flavour.
While tracks like “Clockwork” focus on the material rewards of success, other songs on Mark My Words touch upon the complicated web of emotions brought about by the reality of striving to succeed. There is the triumphant, disposition of “Winner”, but also the acute despair of “Circles”. And on the song, “She Said”, Asari looks at the difficulty of chasing dreams without the full support of loved ones. The Jay Weathers-produced track stands out as one that’s musically different from the others on the mixtape. The stripped down, guitar driven melody and simple lyrics are instantly engaging, and Asari’s poignant delivery makes “She Said” a particularly refreshing addition.
Of course, no R&B album worth its salt would be complete without an outstanding slow jam. Thankfully, Asari does not disappoint with the immaculate, “Fire”. He once again demonstrates his first-rate vocal talents on this sultry track, which features production from budding, London-based producer, Jay Weathers; plus the soaring, ad-libs from Wiley’s protégé, Ms D. All these elements come together to make “Fire” a brilliantly executed track; it’s a superbly slick, slow jam, with a brooding street edge.
The track, “Never Had Your Love” is another highlight of Mark My Words. Co-written and produced by multi-talented South Londoner, Slic Vic, the 80’s flavour of this song is just irresistible. Everything, from the lyrical style to the use of the synths, and the keys give this song its gorgeous 80’s polish. It almost instantly makes you think of Jheri curls, hi-top fade haircuts, and Alexander O’Neal. Asari’s voice lends itself so amazingly well to the Summery, soulful vibe of the song. “Never Had Your Love” is a joy to listen to; it’s a song with such understated charm, that it might take one or two listens to fully realize the retro genius of the track.
Mark My Words is a compilation of very listenable songs. The title is a clever play on words, which can be interpreted in two ways: one describes the fact that the self-penned mixtape is Mark Asari’s experiences in his own words; the other, is gentle instruction to listen attentively – to pay attention – to mark the words i.e. music. In terms of style, this mixtape pays homage to R&B of old; it successfully blends elements from the 80s, 90s, and beyond. With this mixtape, Asari offers today’s lovers of classic R&B a rare treat: accessible songs, quality production, and velvety smooth vocals. Mark My Words is a solid debut from this rising talent.
Download: Mark Asari – Mark My Words (Mixtape)