He couldn’t bring it back to life because there was nothing to revive. The Renaissance was a sparkling cultural rebirth of architecture, art, and intellect between the 14th and 16th centuries. It gifted European society with people like Leonardo Da Vinci, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Tallis who revived the vastly depressed, post-Bubonic Plague era and set the standards for the definition of Renaissance. My question for Devvon Terrell is: what should dazzle us about his version of The Renaissance and what is he reviving?
The “Intro”, lasting a meager 22 seconds informs listeners that “If you are listening, know this/You are not like them/ Your very existence floods fear through their veins and we shall no longer hide”. Not sure if he was going for cryptic or if that was supposed to be the innovative way to make R&B great again. Nonetheless, Terrell struggled with originality in music decisions, while thriving in lyricism.
One aspect of hip-hop and R&B that usually troubles me is the diction. Constantly, I’ll hear mumbling while picking out the occasional chorus, but Terrell actually has some of the crispest annunciation that I’ve listened to. In fact, I’d be surprised to hear another artist that can so clearly annunciate profanity while sneaking it in with positive messages like Terrell. The lyricism in “Y’all Here Me Now” emphatically echoes the desire to be heard with a combination of a trumpet, a hefty volume of synthesizing, and a healthy dose of recommended parental advisory. Terrell’s style is actually unique in terms of the use of the trumpet, but he still failed to revive anything in regards of other instrumental components. A similar case appears in “Why So Serious”. This was my personal favorite song in the album, however, it still wasn’t reviving my taste in R&B. Terrell’s message of needing to relax more in our lives is such a valid struggle that millions tangle with everyday. Unfortunately, his on-again-off-again background snapping, keyboard chord hits, and echoing is just not a rebirth of rap. It’s an album of beautiful lyricism, but basic and overdone instrumental components.
Terrell also struggles in “Enemies and Friends”. This two minute piece is coated with the stereotypical synthesized beat boxing and allusion making elements of rap that hundreds of previous artists have produced before. Furthermore, this third song is also arguably the emptiest of all in terms of having congruent messages and relations with our society, which further detracts from the song having lasting effects on listeners (if you buy the album, don’t get this one). “Know No Better” is a conundrum of all sorts and is the final song of the nine that I will flavorfully scrutinize. To call his album, The Renaissance, he should know better to develop some sort of rebirth or revival in R&B or soul. This eighth song is the only time in the album where his diction is just as sloppy as Birdman, Bizarre, or Soulja Boy. Furthermore, the accompaniment of a deep bass voice in the back just takes away from Terrell’s consistency of flying solo in nearly all of his songs.
“One of Them Days” is without a doubt the most evident soul song in this album and it contains variations of R&B that contrasts with other artists like Drake, Chris Brown, Kehlani, and others. Terrell begins this three minute message in a lower register of his voice and with much less effort and power than his others. His vocal style here also parallels the mood of the song as well as the message of having to acknowledge that not everyday will give you energy and joy. By providing listeners with congruent elements and by suppressing his power, Terrell actually veers away from typical R&B/soul and thus creates a miniature boundary. Finally, his seventh number, “So Proud”, incorporates a mixture of love’s soul with the radiant spark of hip-hop which is definitely unique to the R&B industry. The precise emphasis on certain sounds like the drum and snares in the chorus to the bass kicks and keyboard chimes in the verses creates a distinct division from the hip-hop/ rap to the entering of the soul component.
Devvon Terrell came up short of reviving R&B/soul music with The Renaissance, however , he did produce music the potential to do so. His crisp diction is a pleasure for any listener because who wouldn’t enjoy understanding every word to a song? The region where Terrell falls short is in the music category. Repetition of the same old song and dance beat boxing, profanity, etc. isn’t going to amplify a new cultural development in his field. Despite some same old tune different tuner aspect of this album, Terrell’s lyricism is as sharp and deep as some of the best poets could produce and his messages can leave a lasting legacy that just may spark a twenty-first century Renaissance.
R&B/Soul l Devvon Terrell, LLC