ATL Untrapped: Marsofyouth’s big picture
The rising Atlanta rapper infuses cinematic culture with music
Marsofyouth, one-half of hip-hop duo TheYouth!, understands that great music deserves an equally impressive rollout. This is why Atlanta’s low-key auto-crooner has been preparing listeners for his as yet untitled debut album since November 2018 — even though it won’t arrive until early 2020. On the verge of releasing new material this summer, Mars details his vision for the drawn-out release: treating his debut album like a feature film, Mars, born Mars Smith, has adopted a cinematic strategy and structured his rollout with three distinct phases: the teaser, the full trailer, and the premiere. The teaser arrived in the form of Previews, a 20-minute EP that houses songs such as “FAV” and “The Sopranos.” The EP offers a solid display of his talents and originated from a place of frustration that ultimately laid the foundation for Mars’ plan.
“At the time, I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do, promotion-wise or content-wise, but I wanted to drop something,” Mars says. “Previews just had songs that I liked sonically.”
The Atlanta transplant was raised in a military family and lived in California, Alaska, Colorado, and South Korea before settling into Valdosta in fifth grade. There, he met his close friend 3 aka Trefecta the other half of TheYouth!, with whom he also attended Georgia State University.
After a tumultuous freshman year, Mars moved once again, to Charleston, South Carolina, where he recorded his debut mixtape, Tomorrow . Previews marked Mars’ return to Atlanta, but he still had one leg in Charleston, where he recorded “The Sopranos.”
Now, he’s gearing up for the second phase of his launch with Previews 2, his first project recorded entirely in the city. Slated for a July release, it serves as a fleshed-out sequel to November’s Previews and the final primer before the album debuts next year. Mars describes the EP as more genre fluid and introspective than any of his work so far and confirms that it will feature at least 10 songs.
“Even if it’s heavy content, it will be something your ear will catch on to,” Mars says. “There may be one line that really gets you thinking, but the whole song might just be on some catchy shit.”
While he typically shies from divulging personal information, Mars is no stranger to weaving emotional content throughout lighthearted material. On Tomorrow, he saves the existential concepts for the skits, and frees the music from any thematic crutches. Melodies drive the concepts without bogging down the listening experience.
“I’m a big thinker and a deep thinker,” he says. “I want to get my message across subtly while making music you can vibe to.”
In a culture that thirsts for trailers almost as much as the movies themselves, Mars’s album rollout is a product of the times. This year alone, droves of people have waited months for trailers from films such as Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars Episode 9. With July on the horizon, listeners must do the same for Previews 2.
As the weather heats up, so does concert season. Here’s a guide to hip-hop shows in May.
Fri., May 3
— Smino, The Buckhead Theatre
Sat., May 4
— J. Alston & Rixxky Bands, OPE Gallery
Mon., May 6
— Boogie, The Loft. Everythings For Sale, the debut album from Compton wordsmith Boogie, is one of 2019’s most acclaimed hip-hop releases. The up-and-coming Shady Records signee and LVRN affiliate hits the city for a low-profile show.
— Earl Sweatshirt, Masquerade (Heaven). After his 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Earl Sweatshirt didn’t resurface with new music until late 2018. His current tour, Some Rap Songs, is your chance to see one of the most reclusive voices in rap live.
Thurs., May 9
— Lizzo, Tabernacle. Fresh off of her latest album Cuz I Love You and recent Coachella and Jimmy Kimmel appearances, Lizzo is on fire. The quirky rapper behind the viral hit “Truth Hurts” is a renaissance woman, and her talents deserve the sold-out audience she has already garnered at the Tabernacle.
Sun., May 12
— Juice WRLD & Ski Mask the Slump God, Coca-Cola Roxy
— Wiley from Atlanta, Aisle 5. A local who regularly straddles genre lines, Wiley from Atlanta let his first full-length project, Blue Don’t Make me Cry, loose mid-April. Less than a month later he’s headlining a show at Aisle 5.
Mon., May 13
— Dizzy Wright, Masquerade (Purgatory)
— MC Lars, Smith’s Olde Bar. Hip-hop has no boundaries, and MC Lars exemplifies the fact. With KRS-One, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Kool Keith collaborations under his belt, MC Lars is a seasoned peculiarity.
Tues., May 14
— Lil Pump & Lil Skies, Coca-Cola Roxy
Thurs., May 16
— Gunna, Shy Glizzy, Lil Keed, The Tabernacle
Sun., May 19
— 88GLAM, Aisle 5. Signed to the Weeknd’s XO Records, the Canadian trapsoul duo 88Glam brings their latest project 88GLAM2.5 on the road for the Twin Turbo Tour.
Sat., May 25
— Breathers, Dot.s, the Queendom, Taves, 529
Sun., May 26
— Kari Faux, Aisle 5
Fri., May 31
— DaBaby, Center Stage. Formerly known as Baby Jesus, DaBaby has been on a hot streak lately. His debut album Baby on Baby arrived in March and scored the 25th spot on the Billboard 200.
Sun., June 2
— YBN Cordae, Vinyl
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