S-Trill – On the Phone

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/2wfltrelIbeRNIAzNdSuqF

It either comes natural or else it stands out like a swollen thumb. S-Trill doesn’t come on with his song “On the Phone” pretending to be anything he isn’t and the confidence you hear permeating this track is born from a young artist who believes in what he’s doing and doesn’t have to fake it for anyone. S-Trill’s early life is shaped by the tragedy of losing his dad at the age of seven, but it’s obvious that his attitude is to make lemonade when life hands off some lemons. He embraces the right influences for his early work like this and they come through loud and clear in his music, but there’s never any sense that he’s just some shoddy imitator looking for a piece of the pie – instead, he comes across as someone informed by certain styles of music and possessing the necessary talents to take things in his own direction. S-Trill’s already landed in a big way and his impact will grow even deeper thanks to the single “On the Phone”.

It’s a complete performance. “On the Phone” isn’t a track carried solely by S-Trill’s vocals with the music serving as a half-conceived vocal intended for nothing else but getting him over. The interplay between the vocals, more than just S-Trill’s hip hop delivery, and the music is near perfect and both elements hold the audience’s attention from the first. The lyrics don’t re-invent the wheel, but there’s little question that S-Trill’s talents extend to dramatizing his life in words that are, as well, ideally tailored to the musical accompaniment. He never goes in for being too verbose and it serves the song as well. His vocal style is far beyond his years and, while the statement risks cliché, it clearly bears out with even a cursory listen to the song. S-Trill never comes off as a performer who needs to beat his chest and announce his presence but, instead, gets his message across with listeners without ever pushing too hard or sounding overwrought.

The musical backing is on point. The imaginative use of piano, some string instruments, and different synth sounds comes together without any dissonance and forms a thick block of music that, nevertheless, maintains a light touch throughout. The melodic elements brought into the song by his use of piano mitigate the hard-edge of his rhythms and the varying styles, taken as one, help make the song stand out even more. It’s astonishing to hear how adeptly he handles such disparate elements – they never sound ram-rodded together or sound uneasy. Instead, there isn’t a single identifiable moment in “On the Phone” when S-Trill sounds anything less than fully engaged with his material and ready to provide listeners with an experience they won’t so forget. It’s this quality, among others, that helps S-Trill’s latest single stand out as one of the year’s most important hip hop releases.

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Shannon Cowden

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