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A Guide to Giveon

Ripe with deceit, heartbreak and regret, we break down some of the best tracks off the artist’s latest album When it’s all said and done...Take Time

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In a time post ‘Ushers’ and ‘Ne-yos’ (aka the R&B croon boys of the 2000’s), rising star of 2020/21, Giveon, has popularly been crowned as a musician who is helping to revive R&B from it’s slow 15-year descent into genre-graveyard. This is no surprise considering the consistent quality of his music, one that saw Tik Tokers from around the globe jump on his quick-moving bandwagon, infiltrating their profiles with his standout single ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’. 

However, from his breakout feature on Drake’s ‘Chicago Freestyle’, to his standout debut EP Take Time, to his latest Grammy nomination for best R&B album of 2020, the 26-year-old artist’s talents are a far cry from just being another Tik Tok viral hit.  

His most recent output, a conglomerated album of his first two EPs released last year, titled When it’s all said and done…Take Time, is a shining example. Conceptually driven, the 13-track release documents, for Giveon, the end of a chapter surrounding one potent relationship. From ‘The Beach’, the first track of the album, to ‘All To Me’, the last, Giveon documents, through lilting vocals and slow-building instrumentation, the beginning, the middle, the breakdown, the end, and the lingering effects of a romance. Introspective, and in-depth in its content, it’s a true testament to musical storytelling.

In celebration of the release, we did a quick deep dive on some of our favourite tracks, picking out some perfect future additions to your heartbreak playlist.

Follow Giveon here for more and check out the list below.

01. THE BEACH

‘The Beach’ is an obvious place to start. It’s the beginning of the story. A phone message from Giveon’s mother starts the track, ‘Giveon/ I don’t know if it’s fireworks or gunshots/ but the birds is in the air’. Referring to the constant danger of Giveon’s hometown, Long Beach (birds slang for helicopters), the artist sings of showing his girl around the area for the first time, hesitant to expose her to his world ‘Your mum told you about this side/ it can get ugly’. With Thundercat-like bass, soft almost-pleading vocals and wavy synths, the track sets the pace for the rest of the release, depicting quite hesitantly the blossoming of the record’s romance.

02. FAVOURITE MISTAKE

Following tracks 2 and 3, ‘World We Created’ and ‘Take Time’ respectively, tracks that drift through an idealistic and euphoric period of the relationship, we’re introduced to Track 4, ‘Favourite Mistake’. The beginning of the end, this is when things start to break down. Through haunting backing vocals and a bassline that plays like a thudding heartbeat, Giveon sings of an illicit relationship to another woman, ‘Is my secret safe?/ Safe with just you and me/ We can’t leave a trace/ This is my favorite mistake’. Giveon’s voice is doused in lust and guilt yet there’s also an element of desperation, one for this new woman, and one accentuated by the simplistic yet trepid backing track. 

03. HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY

‘Heartbreak Anniversary’, Giveon’s most popular track and song 6, is the slowest, most melancholy release on the album. With soaring vocals across the chorus, Giveon depicts an unmistakable regret stemming from his ‘favourite mistake’, ‘It’s cold outside/ Like when you walked out my life/ Why you walked out my life?/ I get like this every time/ On these days that feel like you and me/ Heartbreak anniversary’. With a relationship now withered away, Giveon enters a period of reflection and introspection, wondering if she’ll come back, calling himself ‘foolishly patient’ in the process.

04. STILL YOUR BEST

She’s in a new relationship, and Giveon, opening with ‘Are you serious?/ Are you kidding me?/ What’s the deal?/ Oh no no/ This the one you talking ‘bout that’s s’pose to take my place? / Is this for real?’, questions the validity of his ex-girlfriend’s new relationship. Ego plays into this song, singing ‘that’s a downgrade and you know it…still your best’, yet it’s not an ego stemming from a true belief that he’s better, it’s one from hurt, rejection and not getting what he wanted; a petty reaction. With slow guitar chords carrying the song’s melody, ‘Still Your Best’ sits closest to the classic R&B anthems of the 2000’s.

05. ALL OF ME

‘All Of Me’ is the newest addition to the album, appearing on neither When it’s all said and done nor Take Time. In a sensually slow manner, the track seems to depict a reunification of Giveon and his love, running back to him after being unfulfilled in her current relationship, ‘He lost your touch…all to me’. Alluding to his future projects and in his own words, “the end of a chapter means the start of a new one”, Giveon suggests that the track is the opening to the latest portion of his life, giving fans a sonic taste of what’s to come.