Bar Exam: Steven Malcolm – The Second City Part 1 (EP)
Steven Malcolm – The Second City ‘A One Listen Review’
Today I’ll be reviewing Steven Malcolm’s “The Second City: Part 1.” This is the first artist for me to review this year who also appeared in my 2017 Year In Review. Steven’s project from last year was terrific, and here almost exactly a year later he brings more tunes for us to consume.
This four track project starts off with an incredible vocal performance from Taylor Hill on “Not To Us/Good Love. We previously heard Taylor on Trip Lee’s “Billion Years.” “Not to us but to Your Name we give glory Lord.” There’s a bit of a channel or an interlude with some more hyped up singing (I think it’s Steven) and then we get into the flow. I love how this track progresses, and Steven gives us what we want right here at the top. This is a worshipful moment that slowly crescendos to a big performance with the beat turned up a notch. We end this opener a little more low-key then we hear the main hook once more. Great start.
Watch is the second track here, the main single from the project. This song has a modern sound to it, and Steven lights it up. Topically he’s giving an overview of his past and boasting in Christ who brought him out of it. “Real recognize real, tell them all they better watch.” I really appreciate the decisions Steven makes when he approaches a beat. He switches his flow up easily and almost never brings the same feel to you more than once in a song.
Switching The Style
Speaking of switching textures and styles, Rodeo is a hard left turn from the fire we heard on the last two tracks. This song has a Reggae/island vibe to it with percussive drums and acoustic guitar. Steven once again shows his versatility, and that he can sing a little bit. The hook is really nice, and Taylor Hill once again adds some above the bar vocals. Musically I really dig this track, and rate it just above the bar over all.
The last track here is called “Fadeaway,” and once again is very melodic. Beat is futuristic with strings and a busy hi hat. I slumped on this track and found the lead vocals to be tucked back a little bit in the mix. I usually dig Zauntee, but I felt he was just alright here and nothing stuck out to me about his performance. The song ends with a (random) 8 bar electric guitar solo.
Finally, I think this release did exactly what it was supposed to. Steven Malcolm is an exceptionally talented artist who has many sides to what he can do. On this part one of four, we experience the full spectrum of his abilities which only makes us hunger for more. One thing I have to mention is that you can never know what to expect when it comes to current trends in hip-hop. Steven has such a tight flow, which is rare in this current culture. While versatility can help with reaching a larger audience, I hope the decisions made in the coming projects would be similar to what we hear here. Diversity captivates the listener, but in moderation. I would be hesitant to say that I’d agree with the idea of Steven becoming a full-on singer. All in all, for me this release is Above The Bar.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar