“Two-thirty baby won’t you meet me by The Bean / Too early, maybe later you can show me things.” These pleading lines from Giveon served as his head-turning introduction to the mainstream world. Appearing alongside Drake, “Chicago Freestyle” arrived during a cold Saturday night in February, a timely release for a track that sought warmth from an unrequited love just as much of the world did amid their weekend unwind. Giveon’s baritone voice lays like a soothing blanket to the ears of listeners, perfect for the love ballads he would deliver in the ensuing months. 2020 is the year Giveon planned to open his heart to the world, and despite this very world closing its door for much of the year, the Long Beach singer found a way to succeed in his endeavors.
Giveon introduced himself to a small part of the world as the opening act on Snoh Aalegra’s 2019 tour, ‘Ugh, A Mini Tour Again.’ Here he graced fans with eyebrow-raising performances of songs like “Garden Kisses” and “Like I Want You” and left his newfound supporters to declare him as their “crush” and request he sing at their wedding reception. His run continued on March 27 with the arrival of Take Time, his debut solo project. This 8-track body of work that clocks in at 24 minutes solidified the Long Beach singer’s position in the music world while giving his fans a package of pristine songs to enjoy until he returned. The experience that is Take Time begins with “The Beach,” a heartfelt ode to the city that raised him and the woman in his life who loves the city — despite being an outsider — for making Giveon the man he is. The heavy doses of appreciation are woven in his falsetto runs throughout the song and his love for the woman is delivered with a fiery passion of baritone-confidence on the song’s chorus. Some sing from the heart, but Giveon digs deeper and lets his proclamations of love rise up from his diaphragm, and it arrives with such a force and weight that its impact is undeniable.
The mastery of Giveon’s Take Time continues on “Favorite Mistake.” The emotive ballad presents the singer on the toxic side of the world as he rummages through his collection of persuasive proclamations to capture the thrill of infidelity. A night with his mistress is declared as his “favorite mistake,” and although they “both know it’s wrong,” the immorality of the situation is just a mere obstacle in the way of their mischievous getaway. Take Time also proves all the emotions — both good and bad — that the singer experiences at a given moment are delivered to its fullest and truest experience. ”Like I Want You” and “Heartbreak Anniversary” both capture the waning presence of love to the point where it no longer exists and leaves him in a state of sadness to reflect on what could’ve been.
Take Time resides in the realm of patience; having it, using it, and finding it. In Giveon’s world, young love with a solid dose of maturity reigns supreme, but he still flashes some of the naivety that many have fallen victim to in an attempt at love. That’s what made his debut so enjoyable: it was relatable in so many ways. From its growing presence to its complete erasure, love came and went with the wind for Giveon, just like it did during the heartbreak era of our lives.
When Take Time arrived, the world was a real-life ghost town, much different than the society Giveon envisioned on “World We Created.” The coronavirus pandemic had settled in to disrupt the normal life we once knew. Lockdowns were put in place and a work from home status was initiated for the better part of the employed community. However, the quarantine seemed to benefit the Long Beach singer as his growing fan base was granted the opportunity to sit with his music and digest it like it was meant to be. As a result, new fans of Giveon began to uproot from the soil as their time in solitary confinement grew from weeks to months. The stories that made up the project gave listeners a place to escape in the confinements of their quarantine. “The hardest part is writing a song as a story,” Giveon said in an interview with Vice. “A song is so short and there are only so many words that every line has to hit. The words have to flow.” By the looks of it, every line indeed hit.
Giveon’s debut project is just one reason to appreciate him. It’s a well-crafted body of work that highlights his enchanting voice while honing in on his ability as a songwriter. However, an overlooked quality from the singer is his ability to adjust to the times, something he showed on his sophomore EP, When It’s All Said And Done which arrived in October. The 4-track effort presented his heart as the new normal that we all experienced throughout the country and in most corners of the world at its September release: closed and resistant to the new normal that stands before him.
When It’s All Said And Done is a continuation of Take Time with a change in direction. Giveon is no longer the sweet lover we were introduced to on his debut. Instead, the light dose of toxicity that led the way on “Favorite Mistake” is now the palette he takes colors from for the new EP. The love that once was on his debut no longer exists, and while he’s aware of this, his actions prove otherwise. “Still Your Best” is loaded with sheer disgust and discomfort towards a former lover who sought “better” with a new partner. Art is subjective and the attractiveness of another person is as well, but the way Giveon presents it, there’s no doubt his ex failed to step their game up. Jealousy is quickly wiped away by confidence and reassurance that at the end of the day, the singer is the best they’ve ever had, so they’ll know where to find him when they regain their senses.
The toxicity continues on “Last Time” with Snoh Aalegra, where Giveon promises to cease all physical interactions with his former lover, a promise that the Long Beach native knows holds as much weight as a Kleenex, and we as listeners know Giveon’s claims are just smoke and mirrors. Deep down, he wants the sneaky links with his quaran-ting to continue but it’s the shame of falling into his uncommitted love interest’s traps that cause him to deny a future instance of it, that is until the EP’s closer. “Stuck On You” is essentially Giveon’s “it is what it is” realization towards the situation at hand. Is this woman bad for him? Yes. Does he deserve better? Yes. Will he go and find better though? Nope. The singer and his ill sentiments crawl back into bed with this partner simply to forget what his frustrations were in the first place. He recognizes that he may never leave them and the current situation will just have to run its course.
In the realm of love, pride leads the way for Giveon on Take Time and When It’s All Said And Done. It causes him to point fingers in situations he’s also at fault for, hold back from relaying his true feelings, talk down on a former lover, and deny the obvious truths of a situation. Haven’t we all though? Love has never been some fairytale endeavor that transitions from highlight moment to highlight moment. Giveon has his flaws but in creating music that’s damn near flawless, it’s easy to get caught up in the feel of it before its inner workings are examined.
Giveon couldn’t have picked a worse year for his mainstream arrival, but at the same time, he couldn’t have picked a better year. The absolute chaos that we’ve watched unfold over the past nine months was enough for some artists to keep their upcoming releases within the confinements of their hard drive for the next year or so. Others ran into the dust cloud and hoped for the best and that’s what Giveon did. He took the good moments of normalcy with Take Time and the bad moments that came with an internal struggle on When It’s All Said And Done to create a portfolio of music that very much emulated the rise and fall that is 2020. And as the calendar flips to what is hopefully a better year for the world at large, it’s comforting to know that the Long Beach native is here to stay.