Three weeks ago artist John Givez released his sophomore album Soul Rebel. In an interview with Rapzilla, Givez said the album will challenge his listeners who dodge or shun other people based on their religious background and experiences. Givez promised something big with this album, and he delievered.
When I first got my hands on this album, I approached it with caution. In all honesty I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly with the album. About a month before the album dropped, Givez and his label KingsDream ENT released the youtube video “Get a Bar of Tha Side“. Givez showcases his ability to flow with ease, and increased the hype for the album.
I listend to the album in three different situations before sitting down to write this review:
First listen – In the first listen I sat down with my good friend Mike, and we listened to each track, from beginning to end, and stopped after each song to talk about it. What we liked, what we thought the song was talking about, and what Givez was trying to portray in the song.
Second listen – In this listen I layed down on my floor, staring at the ceiling (imagine the scene of Dr. Dre in Straight Out of Compton listening to records in his room) and let the album play from beginning to end, without any distractions.
Third listen – Again listened to the album all the way through, beginning to end, but while working (aka while distracted).
One thing I learned from each listen is that you shouldn’t play this album on shuffle. There is an intricate story woven throughout the entire album, and listening to it on shuffle takes songs out of context, and honestly distorts the message and art the song is portraying. I’m not saying you can’t listen to it on shuffle, but to get the full experience out of it listeners should start from the Intro and work their way down.
Soul Rebel starts off with “Intro (Lude)” and is a male and female voice talking about Givez, saying he will never really make it in the industry, and to choose between being a rapper and a gospel singer/rapper. At the end of the intro both speakers agree to listen to the album, followed by Givez yelling “Stop!”, leading into “Elementary Trill”, the first single released before the album. Next in line is “2004”, the second and last single to be released before the album was officially released. The first four tracks on the album have a light, reminiscing vibe to them. Givez reminisces over being in elementary school and growing up through middle school. These tracks all perfectly capture the feelings of being young, and running around with friends causing trouble. When you pay closer attention, you find that Givez is talking about very serious topics (such as his friends asking if he was a Blood or Crip at the young age of being in 4th grade), but uses the light and easy melodies to capture the freedom of childhood, not really understanding what’s going on in the real world around us at that age. If you could label these songs, they’d be the “feel good” songs on the album.
However, as you reach the middle of the album (track 5 – 9), the mood and feel of the album takes a dark turn. When I first listened to the album with my friend, we oftened couldn’t even speak on these tracks, with the mood turning dark and becoming very emotional. Givez uses these tracks to explain how empty and vain a person can feel when they strive and search after the things of this world. After talking about his first experience sleeping with a girl we can assume he is dating, Givez then follows up with feeling seperated from this girl, and having a stain on their purity. Givez then continues to go into these personal experiences and shares them with his listeners. He shows his listeners his struggle between wanting to be a “playa”/pursuing his own interests and wanting to follow God and what He has planned for Givezs. John Givez shares a very vulnerable part of his life with his listeners, and uses his experiences to show his listeners that 1) they are not alone in their experiences and 2) not evey person is perfect, even though they may be put on a specific platform simply because of their religious beliefs. Even though these handful of tracks are heavy and share a personal part of Givez’s life, it is my favorite part of the album.
As listeners reach the final few tracks of the album, the mood begins to pick up and have a lighter more hopeful tone to them. Givez talks about the comfort of leaning on God, writes a track that we can assum is for his girlfriend, and talks about seeing his homies doing well. While on a lighter note, these tracks also deal with real parts of Givez’s life, allowing fans to get a true connection to him through his music. In the “Outro (Lude)” listeners find a instrumentl of the “Intro (Lude)”. At first listen I got the mental image of heavy machinery working, the idea of a struggle taking place. However, after listening to the album several times through, I came to realized that the outro may be Givez’s way of saying that his haters can’t say anything now, he’s laid it all out on the table. Givez’s closes out the album with “Rebel Credits”, and shouts that he’ll never stop pursing what he loves, and encourages his listeners to “REBEL” against the social norms of todays culture.
These thoughts and this review are just my personal opinion. I tried to make it as unbiased as possible, and hopefully encourage you readers to listen to the album yourselfs. Overall I loved the album. I had no idea what to expect when I first bought the album, and I was completely blown away. The album was produced and mastered excellently, and Givez really opened himself up in this album. John Givez is calling for a change, and is leading by example. I highly recommend listening to this album, and hope you all love it as much as I do.
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Until next time,