Bar Exam: Steven Malcolm – All Is True EP (First Listen Review)
I’ve said it before, but I really feel like Steven Malcolm has been one of the more consistent creators within Christian Rap. He is comfortable using any sound, can sing well, and can really rap. Let’s dive into his new project All Is True.
For those of you unfamiliar with my bar exams, I am sharing all of my notes from my true first listen to the project. I provide in-depth thoughts and commentary on anything from flows, rhymes, beats, creative direction, track placement, and concepts.
After taking these things into consideration, I rate the project on a three-point scale. “Below the Bar” is something that needs help and doesn’t keep my attention throughout. “At the Bar” is the middle of the line and just okay, not really moving the needle any certain way. “Above the Bar” is something that sets a new precedent for the artist and is a tremendous accomplishment altogether.
All Is True – A vocal loop brings in Steven’s voice. “At the age of 12 momma ran away from home/broken and alone.” He’s talking about how he was brought up. The last time he saw his dad he was 9-years-old. His examples/heroes were Kobe and Jordan. This is a deep track to start things off. Learning a lot about Steven as a person.
We Goin’ Up – Really big bass and siren-like high pitched sample in the beat. Starts off the flow with token bars about putting on for my city, going out and getting it, being on the grind. This is a really energetic song. The transition from the last song is a bit jarring. His second verse is a little deeper, and better rhymes. His flow is effortless. He’s not breathless in these fast-paced tempos. He’s a natural with how he maneuvers the music. Altogether this song isn’t hitting for me though.
Ándale – “Pride is the road to destruction…” It’s a different vibe than the last. He’s relying on melodies at the top here. The beat is really nice. Ad-libs everywhere. His confidence in what he’s doing is top-notch. Three songs, three different feels. It’s like a sampler of what he can do.
“Like the dream came right away/got the drive, I took off I had the right of way/boss em up then after that I had to isolate/she say she looking for the wave and I’m a tidal wave/going down in history you know like Michael J”
He’s tossing himself against the beat, and singing smoothly while painting pictures with his lyrics. There’s momentum to this track. He obviously was going for that, coining the title the way he did. Let’s go.
Autopilot – Was that gun shots at the top? I feel like he’s really good at making these uptempo hyped-up tracks. The ones that make you want to go for a run or the stuff you like to listen to when you work out. What I’ve witnessed on this project so far is his willingness to go a little deeper. I love the hook on this track, maybe it’s the timeliness of the Giannis line, but it’s really knocking. This track is a fun listen. He’s switching styles throughout. Sharing about his cousin who has cancer, but at the same time just really charismatic with the bars. This is the best tune so far.
“They don’t wanna see me up like Giannis so I gotta ask em/How you gonna hate when I’m gettin to the bucks while he used to be bread crumbs/Midwest living that way, they got me gassed up like Exxon/Making investments I get it I get it then on to the next one.”
Glory On Me – Childish Major crooning at the top. It’s a pop banger. His switch to his head voice, then the second switch to falsetto is super dope. I want this section to last longer. Steven telling his story starting in 2009. Steven follows Childish Major’s lead and switches his vocal pitch as well. The performance is intentional and meaningful. The features here are solid, and this is a great way to finish out the project.
In conclusion, it’s really hard to give a bar exam to smaller projects. In baseball jargon, I would liken this to someone batting .750 over the first two weeks of the season. I’d consider this a “small sample size,” but on the other hand, it’s really got something for everyone here. Track 2 wasn’t it for me, but maybe that was just me. That song sounded fine, but I felt the first verse was cliche. Besides that, I’d say this is the trajectory that Steven should stay on. Keeping the listener guessing, baffling them with bars, melodies, and having fun while doing it.