London-based MEI (aka Mercy Welbeck) unleashed ‘Steppin’ towards the end of 2017 and now she’s back with a lyrically charged follow up entitled ‘Pennies’, which premiered on gal-dem’s Reprezent Radio show. Releasing through Lapsang House to great acclaim from the likes of Reprezent Radio, Worldwide FM, Cool Hunting and Record Of The Day, the singer-songwriter has already garnered strong support for her very particular blend of hip-hop, afrobeat and jazz. MEI’s words cut deeper than ever on ‘Pennies’ as she relies purely on the power of spoken word for the first time. With plenty more surprises to come, the new single makes for a thrilling snapshot as she readies a full body of material for later in the year.
Inspired by the voice we often battle with in our heads, making us doubt every action to the point of self-sabotage, ‘Pennies’ is a raw yet refreshing account of MEI’s journey to trusting her own ability. The title is a spin on the old English saying, ‘a penny for your thoughts’, laying her mind bare for the listener as she searches for the truth behind a fog of doubt. A self-proclaimed ‘raucous and chaotic’ stream of consciousness, the brooding dissonance of the backdrop is mesmeric as MEI’s percussive delivery intertwines with the beat.
MEI’s was first introduced to the soul music that influences her sound when she began singing in a church choir at the age of 11, but it wasn’t until a decade later, studying music with her future collaborators, that her passion truly blossomed. Given the name MEI (Chinese for ‘beauty’) by her Mandarin teacher, unaware of the importance it would have in years to come, she went on to sing backing vocals alongside Brian Eno and Karl Hyde on Later… with Jools Holland as well as supporting Little Simz at her Roundhouse Rising Festival with LVNA last year. MEI is now taking centre stage for her latest project but with a newfound network of creators around her. From Count Counsellor’s Tiny Factory and From Concentrate collaboratives to her new label, Lapsang House, she may finally be stepping out on her own but there’s a small army of belief in her talent, eager to share her music with a new audience.
The song’s magnificence is hard to define’ – COOL HUNTING
‘MEI doesn’t feel like someone who’s just got lucky with her first couple of tracks’ – CMU
Listen/Stream Pennies below: