Musician of the week: Giveon


Illustration by Ethan Gullett

Adrianne Kristianto, Social Media Coordinator

From collaborating with Sevn Thomas and Snoh Aalegra to being featured on Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle,” the emerging R&B singer Giveon has swooned the ears of many listeners with his ardent vocals. The California-bred vocalist recently released his latest EP, “Take Time,” on March 27, giving R&B enthusiasts something to rejoice for during self-isolation. With his baritone delivery, Giveon has mended many heartaches through songs like “HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY,” “LIKE I WANT YOU” and “VANISH.” Giving a new connotation to R&B, Giveon’s raw talent is slowly but surely garnering the recognition it deserves. 

Though his vocals are highly evocative of Sampha’s, the Long Beach singer set his music apart from most R&B/soul musicians with cavernous hums; intense, reverberated chord progressions; and, predominantly, his way of writing tainted love letters. 

When asked about his upbringing and inspirations, Giveon mentioned that, despite his constant exposure to “old school Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, and all that,” from his mother, Giveon captured much of his inspiration from Frank Sinatra. “I had an epiphany after initially hearing [Frank] Sinatra,” he stated to Okayplayer earlier this year. “It was the very first time I heard a baritone singer. I got into Bobby Caldwell and Barry White from there.” 

Separate from the artificial R&B musicians who have become comfortable sacrificing their individuality for some numbers, Giveon stated that he doesn’t find R&B interesting. 

“The ones I do find interesting are the pioneers of their version of R&B,” he said during a DJBooth interview. “Frank Ocean was the pioneer of his version of R&B. And PARTYNEXTDOOR — he pioneered his style. A lot of times, artists come along and create their own world and then they inspire other artists to make music in that same world. After that, it’s a bunch of copies.”

Though he is considered an R&B/soul artist, Giveon’s take on the state of today’s R&B naturally reflects the distinctive sound in his work, making him one of the few artists who have caught the attention of musicians like Drake, August 08, Snoh Aalegra and many others.   

Giveon’s latest EP, “TAKE TIME,” tells the story of his own love tale “that went from sweet to sour.” Comprising eight songs in total, this 24-minute long EP showcases Giveon’s fragility that can be lyrically and sonically felt as he conveys how adrift he felt in his past relationship. Dedicating the first song, “THE BEACH,” to his home state of California serves as a solid introduction, one which features angelic guitar strings. This song is followed by “WORLD WE CREATED,” in which Giveon talks about the satisfying feeling of being in love whilst the strings and light drums reverberate throughout the song. On “THIS AIN’T LOVE,” Giveon takes a trip down a memory lane of an unhealthy relationship that only felt good at the moment, the head-bopping beat coexisting with his airy vocals. Serving as singles for the EP, the emotionally charged ballads “HEARTBREAK ANNIVERSARY” and “LIKE I WANT YOU” conclude the project, along with “VANISH.” 

With an undeniable songwriting talent, Giveon is more than just an overnight sensation. His baritone voice is as mesmerizing as it is haunting, serving as more than just a sonic vehicle for his tainted love letters.