Three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), a new artist is featured on XXLMag.com’s The Break. An ideal destination for fans, artists, and industry members, The Break showcases up and coming talent, giving a brief introduction on the artist or group, and highlighting some of their standout music. Each month, industry insiders will team with XXL to rate and comment on the submissions.
For the month of April, social media maven Karen Civil—who will serve as one of three judges—checked out the section to see what yesterday’s talent (Julian Stephen) had to offer. Check out her comments below.
Julian Stephen “Enrollment” (to see more from Julian Stephen, click here)
Predicting career paths in music, especially a genre constantly altering it’s appearance like hip-hop, is almost comparable to being a scout of any professional sport. There’s potential. There are hidden gems. There are artists (players) you expect to achieve noteworthy achievements who ultimately fall flat on their face. And then there are those who have solid, but not great, careers. Whatever umbrella Julian Stephen falls under remains to be seen, yet here’s one piece of advice— check out his video for the track “Enrollment.” While it starts off slow, the Queens MC quickly finds his groove as he laments on real life situations ranging from intimate relationships, to wondering where his next dollar will arise to drinking and smoking the stresses of life away.
It sounds like a dated topic, but one that always appears fresh when executed correctly from a new voice. And speaking of his voice, it is unique to say the least. His high pitched near-squeals at times work well as he is very articulate on the microphone. Moving ahead, his story telling on the lightweight comical “Blind Date” provides for an entertaining listen, if for nothing else, to see how the date turns out. That being said, Julian and Jiggy’s exercise over Meek Mill and Young Chris’ “House Party” serves as the most skip-worthy of the trio. Nowadays, as is the culture in Hip-Hop, jumping over an already popular instrumental requires a person basically recreate the entire mood of the record and make it his/her own. I can’t say Stephen does that here.
To sum it all up, Julian has potential. I’d listen to a tape by him in order to determine if “Enrollment” and “Blind Date” are previews for a doper, much heftier catalog or merely the best thing he has to offer. However, given the way Queens has been represented this past week, Julian’s music was somewhat of a breath of fresh air.