Lex the Lexicon Artist is an emcee from the Bay Area who made a splash last June, when she released her debut album, Raging Ego. She starts off 2019 on a slightly different note, releasing an anime-inspired EP, Special: A Mob Psycho 100 EP.

When an artist makes a project like this, it can generally go one of two ways. In one direction, it can be very myopic and only appeal to hardcore fans of the source material, because the payoff comes in the references. In the other direction, the artist can use the source material as inspiration, and then get inside the heads of the characters or get at issues addressed within the material that resonated emotionally or intellectually. The point is that while fans of the anime Mob Psycho 100 will surely love this EP, as someone who has never watched the show, Lex did enough work to make this an EP full of songs that up on their own, regardless of source material. It doesn’t hurt that she gets some banging beats from Vince Vandal, Richie Branson, and RoboRob, or guest appearances from Schaffer the Darklord and None Like Joshua, but it’s really Lex and her intelligent and emotional lyricism that lead the way. That’s because she’s not just making in-jokes to other fans but putting herself in the head of the main character and getting to the core of what made the show appealing to her in the first place – the philosophical and hypothetical questions raised by a young boy discovering he had special powers that made him different. Nowhere does this become more apparent than on “In Order To Grow Up,” which if you take out of context, just becomes a really sweet song about coming to terms with the relationship you have with a sibling.

Special: A Mob Psycho 100 EP could have been an inconspicuous release that would only appeal to a small cross-section of Lex’s listeners. Instead, she dug deep and delivered some really great hip hop that just happened to be inspired by an anime series. I don’t know what else Lex has in store for 2019, but she’s off to a great start.