Review: Cex

“Maryland Mansions”
(Jade Tree)

The party prankster known as Cex seems to have toned down his party jams and teenage anthems this time around on his latest release, “Maryland Mansions.” The album offers a rather introspective look at MC Rjyan Kidwell, (aka Cex.) From the album’s opening track, “Drive Off A Mountain,” the maturity and animosity that weren’t present on his previous albums resonate strongly, and without any candy coated drum machines this time around. With song titles like “Take Pills” and “Kill Me,” Cex seems to be taking an extremely serious stance on his music this time around.

The party anthems have been replaced by introspective songs about life in his hometown of Baltimore, and existing as the man, many simply have grown to know as Cex. With drum samples from Hella percussionist Zach Hill, “Maryland Mansions” stands out against Cex’s previous releases “Being Ridden” and “Tall Dark And Handcuffed;” not only because of the complex rhythms Hill often provides, but because this album is extremely unique against the rest of Kidwell’s discography; and the world of underground hip-hop in general. “Maryland Mansions” is definitely his most brilliant album to date. From creating songs about breaking up with his girlfriend and writing party jams about the experience, to singing the chorus, “I love work! I love success!”

Kidwell not only seems to be maturing in age, but also in skill. He unfortunately falls into the category of an overlooked MC, but his ability to straddle the fence between hip-hop and indie rock seems to be an asset that will more than likely bring Cex the credit and attention he rightfully deserves.