One of my LEAST favorite phrases in the music business is “Highly Anticipated.” That phrase is used by every wannabe artist and is the true measure of a lame press kit. But for the first time I can personally remember it fitting an album, the new Gawvi EP does indeed earn the use of those two words. Those of us who have watched him since he came on the scene as the musical tour-de-force behind Rhema Soul, the four-song EP “Lost in Hue” launches Gawvi’s first official EP as a solo artist, not just producer, for Reach Records.
For the first time since “Dope Beats Good News Volume 2” from Rhema Soul (a true hit sleeper album if there ever was one), we hear Gawvi singing lines on top of his futuristic producing style. As if we needed a reminder that Gawvi is a legendary hitmaker, these tracks seem so effortless for him. You can hear the influences (noted below), but they also have the soft-synth and beat mastery that Gawvi is known for. Clearly, these electronica tracks can hang with DeadMau5, David Guetta, Timbaland, and will.i.am. The EDM genre is something the Christian music-industry-complex has shied away from since it’s not popular with the 40-year old mom. The only other group that is in this category is Capitol Kings, and they are more peers than influences for Gawvi; however, the track “You Are” could break ground into Christian home turf.
The lyrics are somewhat spiritually vague across the EP, but “You Are” is the most overtly Christian of the bunch. Reach Records is showcasing Gawvi’s producing prowess and highlighting his newly produced vocal sound, probably for a secular market entrance. Reach’s plan for Gawvi is following the Lecrae strategy of creating great music first, and not worrying about what “market” it falls into by pigeon-holing it with certain lyrical content. Some may see this as good, others as not-so-good. Will there be a lyrical “Jesus” bomb here? Probably not. The songs can be interpreted as spiritual, but the spiritually averse may not get the message.
Production-wise, “Late Nights” feels like something you’d hear at a “late night” Vegas hotel lobby or pool party, but in a good way. It starts with the vocal riff, and then explodes into a house beat with complex vocal edits, followed by a breakdown section, and back into the dance groove. As far as we can tell this is indeed Gawvi singing the riffs, alongside “In the Water”, the only other track with his vocal on it. But “Late Nights” is a melodic dance cut that can hang with the best producers in the EDM genre.
“You Are” is a testimony of how Gawvi feels about God, and the the track is most reminiscent of something Capitol Kings might sing, but that you might also hear on secular radio. This track could make it onto the super-narrow playlists of Christian radio stations. If that happens, my hat would tip in deep respect as Reach would be helping make Christian radio relevant again, reaching the current generation, not the moms of it.
“Out of My Mind” is a more straightforward love song, along the lines of something that Demi Lovato or Shakira would track. Singable, catchy, modern. Songs like this are the ones that have given Gawvi his gawvigetem hashtag – crowdpleasers that make his fans proud, cheering him onto new heights.
“In the Water” is definitely reminiscent of Justin Bieber, again highly current-sounding alongside anything the best artists and producers are putting out today. A touch of soul, with an EDM core, crossing boundaries yet highly pop. more. of. this. please.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable EP that challenges both the secular and Christian music industry. Gawvi and Lecrae and the other partners in crime at Reach are showing how great music crosses lines, infects the fabric of culture, and sets the path forward. Reach and Gawvi are doing that with light, understandable lyrics, and relevant music production that anyone can listen to. Give us more Gawvi. And go get ’em.