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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Tried and true

Ryan Caraveo creates his most personal album yet.

Seattle rapper Ryan Caraveo released his latest album, “At Least I Tried,” on Feb. 12.

Covering many personal issues he has struggled with throughout his life, the 25-year-old singer has arguably devised his most impressive album yet, with time and potential to become even better.

Creating a name for himself with the help of social media, Caraveo’s first record, “Swings,” released in 2014, illustrates the reality of excessive partying and drug use, that it is not all fun and games. His combination of warm, up-tempo beats mixed with dark, unsettling messages would seem as an unlikely pair on paper, but he  is able to mesh them together to formulate something memorable.

Two years later, Caraveo became more personal with his second full length release, “Maybe They Were Wrong,” detailing how he was ostracized by his peers for being different, the struggles he had to overcome at home and how he suffered from depression. The preference for dark thoughts and happy melodies is prevalent once again, as Caraveo seemed to have found the comfort zone for his work.

According to his Facebook and Instagram posts the day before “At Least I Tried” was released, Caraveo  mentioned this album is meant to give listeners the answers to the source of his inner demons and conflicts, making me wonder if there was more to him that he had not mentioned yet. While I was wrong in this regard, I was still impressed with the final product.

With the production made possible by Teal Douville, Caraveo switches his flow and demeanor with each new track, each song vastly different from the next. With a variety of topics to cover in a short 48 minutes, Caraveo spreads them out, and then jumps back into it a few songs later. Having this sort of structure seems a bit unorganized and confusing, while throwing off the album’s pacing.

When past relationships were previously brought up in Caraveo’s music, they were never positive and normally ended feeling disconnected or fake. With “Pumpkin Pie,” he finally connects with another who struggled in her own relationships, which is something he knows all too well himself. His crooning paired with the slow instrumental is an emotional side that had never been explored, and it is very refreshing to hear.

“In My Own Skin” is possibly the most personal, and best, track on this record, as Caraveo reveals his vulnerability as he struggles with his identity. Hearing the sustained guitar chords as he raps about the complicated history of his family and how he feels unfit with what he has become is an oddly soothing backdrop to such an intimate topic.

Most of the songs on this album are melodic and gloomy, which leaves “Patient” as one of the biggest outliers of the 15 tracks. It sounds like he wanted to switch things up and try something new, with a very hyped beat as Caraveo angrily raps. While the track is well produced, and the change of style is welcomed, it does not fit in with the rest of the album.

“At Least I Tried” is a step in a promising direction for Caraveo, and it will be interesting to see where he will go from here. Although there has already been a plethora of other great rap albums released so far this year, this is one that will undoubtedly fly under the radar.

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