Magna Carda is a group out of Austin that has been going strong for the better part of this decade. Starting with 2014’s Van Geaux, they’ve been on a steady roll of really creative and soulful hip hop albums. We last heard from them in December of 2017, when they released their Coffee Table Talk Vol. One EP. Now they come back with a new EP for Valentine’s Day, Ladee.

While they’ve made their name as a live band, the through line across this whole trip has been the duo of keyboardist/producer Dougie Do and emcee/producer Megz Kelli. On this EP, the focus is still on the duo, but we also get contributions from Ari Burns on trumpet, Xavier Davis on piano, and Marshall Skeeters on guitar, as well as additional vocals from M3CCA and Jay Luse, so you do get a bit of a live feel to the EP. There’s just a certain energy that comes through on each Magna Carda release. Most importantly, though, you get the most romantic Magna Carda release to date with Ladee. The group has always worked in an intimate jazz-and-R&B influenced style of hip hop, so it’s not a huge stretch for them, but it wasn’t until I heard this EP that I realized what I’d been missing. Musically, it’s more a matter of just tweaking a few things here and there, maybe emphasize a warm, smooth bass line here and add nice vocal sample from an old soul song there. It’s really when Kelli takes the mic and you hear her rhyme about her romantic relationships and really starts to open up and get intimate with her lyricism that you realize how just how hot under the collar Magna Carda can get you. It’s a steamy five-song collection that shows another side of the very talented group.

One of the great things about a group like Magna Carda is that they’re still pushing themselves and evolving. Ladee is yet another different and welcome look for the group, and a great Valentine’s Day treat.