Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jevin the Dude

Okay, here's an interesting EP by somebody entirely new. "Entirely new" meaning none of the other blogs have even discovered this guy yet. And sure, usually when I find myself checking out an artist none of the other blogs have ever featured, it's because they're terrible and I've gone far too deep down the rabbit hole of the internet. But no no, this guy hasn't been discovered yet, and his EP is actually pretty good. I mean, I'm not predicting he's gonna blow up and be huge... Because if I was going to seriously predict who's going to blow up, I'd put on my cynical hat and guess that, now that Kreayshawn's pregnant, her team's just going to take that girl who looked exactly like her in that music video and slide her into her spot like they're interchangeable mannequins.* But I at least expect to see this guy on NahRight, 2DopeBoyz and more of my Feedly list in future.

I'm talking about There Can Only Be One, the debut EP from Front Ground Entertainment by Jevin June, produced by somebody named Mad Knocks. Mad Knocks isn't credited anywhere on here; I had to do some internet sleuthing to figure out who actually made these beats. But he definitely recognition for this, since it's really the pairing that makes this EP work. Their styles really fit together.

It opens with "The One," which isn't the strongest song, but makes for a good intro with its big, royal horn sounds. I'm a sucker for those lush openers, going all the way back to "The Ruler's Back." Sure it's over-selling, but it's a lot of fun. "The Theory" hits the chipmunk soul button a little hard, but I can't deny that it sounds good. A couple of the other songs don't work quite as well, but everything here is at least interesting. The stand out track is "Knights With the King," and clearly Jevin realized this as well, as it's the one he shot a video for

And Jevin's got one of those flows that just makes everything sound easy, sounding very natural on the track like he belongs there. And lyrically, he's got a nice rhyme pattern. But here's where the road gets bumpy. He's got the voice, the structure, the flow - especially for a young cat - but the actual content of his lyrics are kind of a mess. And that might be fine for him, career-wise, since pop audiences clearly don't pay any attention into what's being said in the music they listen to anyway. But discriminating listeners are going to have some questions.

I mean, it's mostly just a lot of cliches strung together. He's "far from pop," "ran through your bitch," "so clairvoyant I can see you haters comin'," "pops champagne," "walked on the sun," "needs more money to cop these black Porches," etc etc. And I just took those all from the first song. There's never any clever lines, which is actually fine; because I think punchline rappers have worn out their welcome anyway. But there's nothing else interesting to take its place either. And it sounds alright because he has some nice multiple rhymes; but in terms substance, it's like you could write these songs with a randomizing computer program.

And sometimes it gets more awkward, like where he says, "Notorious, see me: the illest since B.I.G. No disrespect to the late great Wallace." Like why are you even bringing his name up if you're just going to put yourself on his level and then immediately backpedal? Just cut the line. And he constantly makes these non-sequitur sex references. "I need some bad brain," is a line from the first song. "I need me a freak, I need me a freak, some thorough bitches that suck vicious, that's addicted to fellatio feelings," is from his second. "My thoughts spillin', I so want you: sexy beast in high heels," is from his third - although to be fair, it actually fits the theme and context of the rest of the song in that case.  On four he says, "I need an orgy, sexual exploratory, got some stallions waitin' for me," And in the fifth, he says he needs, "a thick chick who takes a slow ride on the P. When she's done, she smiles and calls me God." That's every single song on this EP; and does anyone really want to hear that? Maybe save this stuff for your PlentyOfFish profile. They just sound like thoughts he should've kept in his subconscious. And you could argue that that's a potentially good way for a rapper to go, voicing the ideas that most people are afraid to; the unspoken, suppressed truths of the id. But there's nothing "Fight the Power" about throwing in an uncomfortable remark about who he wants to have touch his penis on every song.

But I'ma stop because I'm zeroing in on all the weakest points here. Honestly, most of his verses are just fine. Unremarkable, but also nothing wrong with them. And when combined with all of the other elements that he's got mastered, it still makes for a good listen. Especially if you don't pay super close attention.

I've got a CD here, but I'm not sure where any of you reading this could get a copy outside of probably a merch table at one of his shows. The push here seems to be to send you to just download this for free (it's available here), which is about right. Because I don't recommend this for a purchase, but I do for a free listen online. Especially since then you can just focus on the best songs, and those really do sound good. Honestly, that "Knights With the King" video should really get some blog attention, and I think both Jevin and Mad have the potential to advance a lot further in the industry. Especially if Jevin is willing to start going through his rhyme books for one last editorial pass.

*Oops, too late. That already happened.

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