Arts & Entertainment Editor
At only 18, rapper-producer redveil (stylized in lowercase) is still finding his way through the vast seas of the music industry. His sophomore album learn 2 swim reflects his shifting mind state and the torrent of changing surroundings he faces as his career rises.
With his rapping style sounding like a blend of Earl Sweatshirt, Baby Keem, and Tyler, the Creator, redveil wears his influences on his sleeve but still combines the styles of different artists to have a distinct sound. Production-wise, redveil likes to make use of vocal samples, trap beats, and the occasional horn for a style that sounds sharp, dramatic, and modern. To have created a unique sound at such a young age is impressive in its own right, but for it to be as enjoyable as redveil’s is an even greater feat.
To start, the catchy chorus of “diving board” makes it stand out, not to mention its lyrics. “Said we was pressing through the shine, now we here / And we ain’t got the time, we can’t revel in fear / Need to hold my nose, my nose, my nose” reveals his changing mindset. He knows looking back and worrying about the past are both useless, and he has no choice but to continue his blind dive into his career.
“diving board” is one of the many, if not the majority, of the album’s tracks that focus on his mentality amidst new success. However, many songs could also be seen as spokes stemming from the hub of his current surroundings in contrast with redveil’s own past. He sometimes does this to great effect: the fluid and extensive use of water metaphors in “together” paints a picture of his rise, and the verse “I’m on that I’m alive, can’t complain these days” is one of the most compelling lines on the album.
“pg baby,” on the other hand, focuses on his success from the perspective of his identity and his old neighborhood. Though it is one of the most enjoyable tracks, it sadly only has one verse.
An unfortunate recurring theme is redveil’s tendency to use long refrains and choruses to make up for how relatively few his verses are. Only half of the tracks witness him delivering more than one verse. Like so many songs made by and for users of TikTok, less than half of the songs make it past the three-minute mark. Short songs are not inherently bad, but when an album carries songs that all use a similar structure — multiple choruses, a bridge, and an outro — the tracks can get boring fast.
The briefness of “sky” is especially unfortunate, given that it is the only track more focused on issues other than redveil’s come-up. redveil makes another catchy chorus, rapping about his relationship with his hair as part of his Black identity. The artist’s display of whimsical pride and self-esteem in the face of discrimination makes a fun, positive, catchy song out of a serious issue.
In “home” and “mars,” the Earl Sweatshirt influences ring just a tad too loudly and redveil goes from sounding like a talented, inspired youth to a less articulate copy of his most treasured idol. Yet, redveil’s signature style leaves little wiggle room for variation in sound between songs. Even after multiple listens, most of the tracks are hard to differentiate even by a metric, other than the chorus. As a result, the album is unfortunately easy to get tired of.
Though the album as a whole may not be ideal for multiple consecutive listens, it has plenty of playlist-able bangers, and its reflection of redveil’s current state will make it a memorable piece of his discography for years to come. Regardless of his age, redveil’s ability to combine relatively abstract lyrics with an overall commercial-friendly sound and attitude makes for a fresh style that is worth checking out. Those looking for up-and-coming artists should keep an eye on reveal as he continues learning to swim.