Giveon’s ‘Give or Take’ makes heartbreak enjoyable
New York (AP) — Giveon is a hopeless romantic. That could be why his disappointment toward failed relationships has been on full display in his music and is palpable throughout his debut album, “Give or Take.”
“I just feel like the way society is going now, so many people, they just want to give up on it,” says Giveon of “At Least We Tried” from the new project. “I understand that, but we can’t have a loveless world. What does that even look like?”
In a musical climate where mainstream male R&B and rap often overlap both sonically and in subject matter with tales of partying and living in the moment, Giveon has skillfully penetrated radio rotations and playlists with stories about the mercurial nature of love.
“The moment I go through something, I’ll write a song about it and that will just make me feel a lot better,” said the singer. “When I’m happy, I’m not too much running to the studio. I’m enjoying whatever it is that’s making me happy.”
Debuting last month at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, the 15-track project is the first full-length album from the 27-year-old baritone whose hit ballad “Heartbreak Anniversary” competed for best R&B song at the Grammys this year.
A collection of saved voice notes and voicemails from his mother — unbeknownst to her — serve as a through line for the album.
“I chose no features because it’s such a personal album and just personal stories that I just can’t imagine anyone else on it besides my mom and myself,” he explained.
Led by the singles “ Lie Again ” and “ For Tonight ” in which he continues his ballad expertise, the album, which reached No. 3 on the Top R&B albums chart, features producer credits from Boi1da, Sven Thomas and Giveon himself.
On “Another Heartbreak,” the artist belts, “But my heart can’t take another blow/And that’s just why I’m scared to let you close/’Cause every time I’m in love, end up with nothing/Nothing but these songs.”
“(People say), ‘Here Giveon goes making these songs’ — I don’t want to make this. I don’t want to go through this,” he said with a laugh. “I was like let me just write a song about the paranoia of the PTSD I’ve had from a previous heartbreak that I feel like this cycle is going to repeat.”
But navigating fame hasn’t been all smooth; he went through a public breakup with songstress Justine Skye, but he insists this album isn’t reactionary — instead, it’s a culmination of romantic experiences.
“I just pull from everything. It would never just be one specific situation,” he explained. “I decided a long time ago that I’m going to keep everything as completely private as possible… I choose to express it in song form.”
Believing a music career was unattainable after his voice pitched down during puberty, Giveon regained confidence when a Grammys music education program introduced him to other famous baritones like the legendary Frank Sinatra. In 2020, the former Bubba Gump Shrimp server burst onto the R&B scene in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic with a feature on Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle.” That assist gave Giveon’s “When It’s All Said And Done” EP a huge boost, followed by his second project, “TAKE TIME.”
Recently, Giveon found himself on the pop charts when Justin Bieber tapped him and Daniel Caesar for the massive hit “Peaches” which earned four Grammy nominations, including record and song of the year. As he preps for his North American tour in August, which includes a stop at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Giveon says he’s not caught up in the present, but is positioning himself for a long future creating timeless music.
“I’ve always had the mindset of I want to be able to just drop (music) in any decade and you can’t tell when it was made,” he said. “I’m thinking 10, 20 years from now and I just feel like I’ll be a highly sampled artist, and that’s one thing that’s going to be cool.”
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