$tevo – My Adolescence

 $tevo – My Adolescence

$tevo – My Adolescence – EP Review

I ain’t here to compete, I’m here to take over.

If that doesn’t make the intentions clear, what else could?  We were introduced to this player from the rap game at the end of last month, with the $tevo single “Angels With Dirty Faces” that we posted up here at the page – as it turns out, there’s a whole horde of talent that’s surrounding this emcee as well.  Shout-outs to the entire posse, known as the Minnesota Misfits, who also proudly present the My Adolescence EP from $tevo, fueled by the beats produced by DJ Minnett, another talented member of their crew.  Skills roll deep over there in Minnesota apparently…that’s a nice problem to have.

$tevo starts out the record with an inviting vibe that begins with a solid example of this emcee finding the right energy to match the music on “Ten-Thirty AM.”  It’s got a sleepy/dreamy sound to it – and $tevo’s got a trance-like rhythm floating through the mic, starting out like he’s just waking up for the day and sharpening-up as he starts to focus & flow through the words.  The low-end is huge…no doubt that DJ Minnett is doing his best to wrestle it into the mix here and almost no question it’ll send the subs of many people out there into a frenzy of rattles & shakes.  For myself, it was actually the lighter elements of the music that seemed to bring something different to this vibe…”Ten Thirty AM” isn’t a typical cut and I dig that.  Seemed to get stronger with each passing second and by the end, $tevo’s shaken off the sandman & sounds fully ready to roll forward.  “Ten Thirty AM” is a great cut to start with that allows this EP a lot of room to grow & expand from there, while still offering a glimpse into the skills that will fuel the cuts to follow.

No denying the power of the hooks & sound of “The Agenda” featuring an electrifying performance from Aether Haze on the mic, delivering serious doses of character & personality into the opening bars.  $tevo takes over confidently with his signature flow, rolling fiercely through the verbal equivalent of the entire dictionary with his high-speed delivery keeping the words coming rapid-fire.  They both bring something different to this cut, which is always an asset in a collaboration as far as Hip-Hop/Rap are concerned…no point in passing the mic off to a homie that’s basically got the same sound as you right?  Aether Haze and $tevo are nearly polar opposites in style, but together, they combine to create killer energy and deliver the goods on “The Agenda.”  At less than two-minutes long…I could have used another ten minutes of this cut – I think the mix is spot-on…the music is perfection with the gentle acoustic sample meeting the deep low-end.  Aether Haze delivers some of the most memorable bars on this entire EP with his inspired sound & charismatic performance leading the way on “The Agenda.”

“Workin” was probably the toughest song to absorb…the contrast between the light-sound of the music and intensity of the flow seemed to have a harder time finding the right energy & balance to make this idea fully pay off.  The hooks come out sounding a bit lethargic…I dig the verses, but they’re also mixed pretty deep into the music of this cut and the low-end keeps’em more masked than I think we’re looking for on the verses.  They’re in the right spot on the hooks…but I’ll admit, $tevo & $emi Ghost sound like they’re half-in on this one…especially with the vibrant performances that take place on “The Agenda” before it and “Victim” right afterwards.  Put it to you this way…the verses are likely the most stand-out part of this cut and they’re the hardest to get to as a listener…but on a performance-level, you can hear that these emcees are giving it the best they got with what they have.  I would have thought this would be a tough beat to work with and “Workin” proves to be a worthy adversary for these emcees.

“Victim” is a complete standout.  DJ Minnett is cutting up the gold here with a brilliant mix on a muted low-end sound that absolutely hits the mark.  Just the right amount of added elements in the sound surrounding it, but overall, just an absolutely incredible use of that low-end that keeps this cut movin’ & groovin’ in a remarkably subtle way, setting the stage for $tevo to make his impact on the mic.  Clearly feeling the energy and the vibe, the emcee goes on a rhythmic-roll that would stretch out a mile long if it was all printed on paper…dude strings words together so tightly and releases them with such precision, you gotta admire this guy’s talent when he’s at his most focused like this.  And if you get right into the words of this cut, you’ll hear a ton of the reasons and motivations that $tevo has to make this career happen.  That determination can lead to incredibly successful results, just like he experiences on “Victim” – likely the result of keeping the material more connected to him personally, you get great insight into what $tevo is all about on a fundamental level here…the man’s clearly got good intentions.  There’s no doubt he’s got attitude and there’s a good chance you’d want to cross the street if you saw $tevo coming at ya and you’d somehow gotten on the wrong side of the guy – but there are subtle hints within the lyrics that’ll point you to what’s real, which is that there’s a pretty damn good guy residing underneath all the venom in his vocals.  Completely badass track from beginning to end – “Victim” was a huge highlight in the first four cuts on My Adolescence.

Really dig the music & vibe on “The Code” as well…that was the standout part for me here.  Part of me was stoked on the continual flow & knowledge-bombs dropped by $tevo along the way, other parts of me suspect he’s also gotta really examine the atmosphere of a song and being willing to explore it more for the potential it offers.  There’s no question about his talent or abilities…the man has a gripping flow and knows how to keep the words coming fast & furious from bar-to-bar…the best way I can put it, is that on “The Code,” in the chorus, he’s using what I’m getting at to his advantage.  It’s all about finding that balance between what you want to say and how to express it within the environment that’s presented; essentially, we can all find the beat of a track, but stylistically speaking, there’s a massive benefit of being adaptable to the sound of the music surrounding the vocals.  Believe me, when it comes to rapping, there isn’t much $tevo can do to improve on the natural skillset he’s already working with – so for him, that next evolution is finding that matching energy each and every time.  He’s got that goin’ on in most of these cuts and brings something new to a lot of these cuts, but there’s still work that can be done in that department and that connection might be missing a bit on “The Code,” even though on a surface-level, it still comes out strong enough to want to repeat it.  I don’t wanna tell this guy to slow his roll, but kinda, know what I’m sayin’?  I think that, even though I wasn’t huge on the hooks of the chorus, I still think that finding that unique energy that really meshes with the vibe becomes a huge asset in this part of “The Code” and memorable, like it or not.  On the verses, a bit more flexibility in his pace might pay off for this emcee…there’s no doubt that $tevo dials-back the energy a bit, but I’m saying there’s still more room for him to really get right into the atmosphere of the music around him.

Of course, I make a comment like the potential benefits of slowing down, and what does $tevo do?  He goes and cranks up the tempo on his rhymes like never before on “Still Moving” with $emi Ghost back on the mic as well – and together they can claim redemption for their potential on this second collaboration between them.  DJ Minnett is crushing it once again with something wickedly unique and incredible to listen to…and even though I still think a lot of what I mentioned in talking about “The Code” still applies here on “Still Moving” as well – there’s a hypnotic vibe that gets completely established in the loop of the music that seems to make this cut work.  Could it benefit from a slower flow or something that might thread its way into the atmosphere of the music more cohesively?  Sure.  But I ain’t knocking this one…I still felt like “Still Moving” came out solidly enough to entertain and there’s no doubt that the emcees can spit with speed & skill.  It comes down to that difference DJ Minnett can make and the potential it has to help separate these emcees from the rest of what’s going down out there right now in Hip-Hop & Rap…and it’s because of that versatility that the opportunity continually presents itself for $tevo & his guests to bring something new to each cut.  On some of these cuts, this opportunity is maximized…others reveal the opportunity to strengthen that connection & diversify the flow even more to make an even bigger impact.

DJ Minnett definitely deserves his props for keeping the beats & music so diverse & straight-up interesting to listen to throughout this record.  I dig ideas like what you hear on “The Conclusion” – it’s subtle & minimalist in many ways, but those subtle choices & transitions being made in the piano-sample show you he’s alive & in control, not just letting a beat do what it does, know what I mean?  I think he’s absolutely nuts for his choice of low-end sound to match this cut…there’s no doubt about the jarring nature of those two sounds combined and it’s definitely the strangest choice I’ve heard him make so far and a move that I’d question for sure…but I think you’ve also kind of gotta seriously be listening close to the relationship between the two sides of the sound here and how they interact to really hear it.  So…essentially, it might not be something that listeners notice…musicians, artists, & his fellow producers out there will though.  There’s definitely a risk being taken here in pursuit of a new style of combination in sound…and just like too many ingredients in a recipe or one-step too far, the original intentions or desired results might have gotten away from this collaboration here.  Regardless of the results, I’ve been impressed with the amount of imagination that’s been put into each of these cuts.  I dig $tevo’s smooth vibe and flow on “The Conclusion,” you can hear the weight of the thoughts on his mind through his tone of voice, like he’s considering his each and every word of the lyrics on this track.  The final switch in slowing down the entire sound like an audio-cassette that’s melting in the sun created a wicked & memorable ending to “The Conclusion” – but wait!  There’s more…

Looooooooooky here!  Every so often this happens to a music-reviewer, though I couldn’t tell you WHY that is or why we never really seem to ever get a heads-up on this…but wouldn’t ya know it, this EP actually GREW during the process of checking it out this past week!  Overnight at one point, an eighth-track appeared…which…on one hand certainly adds a killer cut to the record with “Adolescence” at the end…on the other hand…I might have actually waited on this one or released it as a single as opposed to adding it to this particular set.  For the same reason I think that, it can also work…lemme explain…

Like many artists/bands out there, the current work can reflect the best in what we do.  There’s a noticeable leap being made at the end of this record…both in DJ Minnett’s production and the quality of energy in the song overall…”Adolescence” actually has a stunning & remarkably more mature sound.  Essentially, this late addition to the record also becomes the best cut on the EP as a result, which might end up potentially taking away from the other songs before it, OR, it could leave you on what could be a strong nod to what’s to come in the future as the stakes are raised.  Everything is going right for these reps of the Minnesota Misfits on this finale…the low-end infused vibe meeting that bright piano sound & gentle beat leads the music on this last cut in all the right directions…adding in that extra ambience, which you’ll notice most towards the end, was a brilliant move and genuine highlight to leave us on.  The confident rhythm of $tevo on the mic sounds better than ever before, that hint of reverb adds a gigantic feeling to the atmosphere, and the words are personal, real, and spit like they really mean something to this emcee, because they truly do.  In many ways, this last track helps you get to know the real $tevo like he’s right there on your couch, telling you his life story over beers & blunts…and that added touch of more grounded reality comes across in remarkably relatable ways here.  At the end of listening to this statement-cut from the My Adolescence EP, there’s no question that it belongs here thematically…it’s pretty much exactly what’s he’s been looking to say all along throughout this record, wrapped up tightly right here in this last track.  But to the ears, there’s no question about the freshness in this sound & vibe either…there are noticeable improvements that have been made to this final cut that are bound to stand-out to anyone listening for all the right reasons.  Could definitely be a sign of even greater things to come, but there’s no doubt that $tevo & DJ Minnett have already given you plenty of reasons to keep on listening with the innovative mix of sounds & songs on My Adolescence.

Find more music by DJ Minnett at Soundcloud here:  https://soundcloud.com/minnet

Find more music from $tevo at YouTube here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoQRbrAAFCBah5wBPsIhkhA

Or play My Adolescence from YouTube at this link:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1ufije3UysNI_GxVzs9qs6R2oGS2OMmO

& subscribe to DJ Minnett’s channel & all that here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyeIL-UcstItFBan9-lGUEg

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