Devin Xo, rapper of the Give Love collective in Columbus, has just released an EP called Coming of Age.
Devin describes the work as “an introspective take on adulthood, depression, and love over cinematic and upbeat production.”
And I think he achieved this consistently throughout the six-song EP.
It has a gospel-like, soulful R&B sound with elements of jazz due to the female backup vocals, the steady drum beats, the saxophone, and piano.
Coming of Age includes formerly released song “Free Your Soul” which tells of Devin’s personal experience with the struggles that “coming of age” entails.
The first song on the EP, “Fly Away,” further illuminates the internal battles and identity crises we face when growing up. It’s not easy figuring out who you are, and there isn’t always just one answer. The song begins with the sound of kids playing and yelling in the background, as if our inner child is protesting adulthood that is right around the corner.
We’re never really ready for it. The sudden independence from our parents, the overflow of bills to pay, of debts owed. It all comes at us at the speed of light, and it can be a very lonely experience at times. But Devin wants us all to know that this doesn’t have to be the case:
“You ain’t gotta be alone / Take my hand and come along / I’m off to see a brighter day / Come with me and fly away.”
Everyone has to go through the process of coming of age, of first love, of facing the “real world” without the guidance we received in childhood. But we’re all going through it together.
The inspirational tone is backed by the groovy rhythm of the saxophone; you can’t help but be lifted up by it, which is exactly what Devin’s music is all about. Positivity is key.
Easier said than done, of course.
“Social Anxiety” starts off showcasing Devin’s sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humor; he acts as a spokesperson in a commercial about social anxiety. Considering the fact that I struggle with it myself, I got quite the kick out of it.
The song is a commentary on how debilitating anxiety can be, especially when it becomes necessary to be social and make connections when entering adulthood. Overthinking can be crippling. Devin pokes fun at those easier-said-than-done pieces of advice when he says sarcastically,
“All you gotta do is just ease your mind / And when you do that and you really just try / You can find out everything I said was a lie.”
What I took away from the song is that the best way to ease your anxiety is to just be yourself instead of trying to fit in. If you go where your passions and interests are, you will find your niche.
“You’re In Love,” which features Give Love singer Diamond Browne, and “Shower” focus on the romantic aspects of the work. These songs convey that coming of age, though difficult, isn’t all bad; falling in love is one of the greatest perks of growing up.
Giving and receiving love, that’s the real key
In the last song of the EP, “Kids At Play,” Devin reminds us to just put one foot in front of the other because then you can look back and see just how far you’ve come. He raps his encouraging words over a mellow, lullaby-like beat that really does ease the mind.
That’s what is so great about music. It helps us get through those those times of strife, those anxiety-ridden situations and feelings of loneliness. Devin’s work is all about helping the listeners to ease their minds through his hopeful lyrics and upbeat rhythms.
In this EP, Devin Xo gave me words of encouragement that I really needed to hear (especially with those exams next week). If that’s what you need in your life right now, I would definitely recommend listening to Coming of Age.
Stream it below.