Bar Exam: Steven Malcolm – The Second City Pt. 2 (Album)
A One Listen Album Review
Yo, I’m so stoked today to be able to review this project. Steven Malcolm has become one of the most consistent creators in CHH, and Pt. 1 of this Second City series was terrific. On that first installment he was able to fuse worshipful sounds, melodies, and rapid fire bars together in an exceptional way. It made the four track EP feel like a deeper journey than the similar projects you’re used to. Let’s take a listen to all that’s in store on Steven Malcolm’s “The Second City, Pt. 2.”
Once more, the first track features a strong worshipful introduction. This slowly fades into an island/reggae vibe. Steven’s inflections in his voice and his tone fit perfectly within the construct of this atmosphere. No big deal, he nonchalantly rips off a few bars in the middle of a hot first verse.
“Free by the blood of the most high/Even when me gone know me won’t die/Living on the side we nah come light/Big tune elevate we nah tell lie/Where we lion wit pride/And we ride tell’ em what be the price/Know we came wit the Christ/Who done given up life for the brethren/A blessing tell old me goodbye”
It’s crazy because the sonic theme of this particular track isn’t something I’d necessarily vibe with, but Steven owns the flavor in a way I’m not sure most people can, and it’s very appealing. I know that the idea of “Second City” is a reference to Jamaica, yet also alludes to the idea that this place is not our actual home. Topically it’s not just all fun and games either. He’s speaking about his personal growth and fight to keep Christ at the center of his life. All around this is an incredibly strong track.
For “Fuego” there’s a lot of mandolin beds throughout. The bass line is intricate but it’s tucked back, keeping the samples and the mandos the main focus of the instrumental. Another strong and melodic singing performance here on the hook. The direction of this song fits everything that’s happening. The concepts that were present in the first track hand off to this track quite well, making the project not feel disjointed and like this song is out of nowhere. The only key here is that where there was an island feel to the first track, there’s obviously Spanish influence here. I’ve spoken before of how Steven is able to switch up flows masterfully. This song is no different, I especially like his triplet feel on the second verse.
“All in the atmosphere like yo what happened here/Just me I’m sorry yet I do not not care/Look in the sky like that’s me you see there/If no weapon prosper then I shall not fear/This here the Second City for those who thinking/ We do not got it on lock/With no key/We are the prodigy/We are the anomaly/Strength in the outnumbered/ We are IVAV/We are slightly crazy/We are Patrick Swayze”
We get into “On Ten” after a bit of a shaggy outro with an instrumental that sounds like it belongs on Steven’s self-titled project from last year. It’s got a synth sample on loop just before the beat comes in. This is the sound that made me a fan. This hook is a bit more laid back for how hyped this music is, but it works. I find the construction of this song to be interesting. The second verse begins with the words “First off…” which seems to be counterintuitive to the direction of the song if you take it literally. That second verse is legitimately the second set of ideas presented in the song. It’s still a great song to hype you up, I’m just not sure there was much intention put into the order of the verses.
The main thing that turns people off to the idea of Christianity is the idea that we’ve all got things figured out. “Been There” is Steven’s take on this mentality. He’s being real about his struggles, where he’s been. It goes to show that if you are vulnerable and honest with your struggle you find a way to meet people where they are. This is an artist who gets it. I also know that he’s got a worship ministry background, which seems to be heavily influential on the sound he brings. It’s all worshipful and edifying. This song is relevant, real, and way above the bar.
Closing out this installment of “The Second City,” Steven taps Leeland Mooring and numerous additional vocalists to bring down the house.
“Even if the drum stops beating/My soul will keep on singing/Even louder, even louder/Even when my eyes can’t see it/I will sing till I believe it/Even louder, even louder”
This is a big track. Lately in CHH I’ve been witness to some largely worshipful moments and it’s tremendous. A moment like this on Steven’s project shows someone who is comfortable with who he is in Christ, and also shows to me that he won’t waste the platform that Jesus has given to him. This song is evidence to me that Steven’s not here to just play music, he’s here to minister to people who need to hear about Jesus. I have nothing more to add.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar