'Since You Asked,' Jxdece's Debut is Mellow & Melodic Poetry for any Season

 Evan Dale // Dec 3, 2020 

It’s rare that a project can touch a listener at every point of their emotional spectrum. It’s rare that every point of a project can likewise wield that power. It’s rarer still that project is an artist’s debut, but nothing about Jxdece’s SYA brims with the mark of a novice, an amateur, or anyone poised to present their first work to the world. Such is the dominant mark of Nashville these days. Irreplicable small-market professionalism and ultimate confidence in a personal aesthetic that sounds like no one else’s reads signature across myriad presentations – debuts at that – from the city’s hip-hop and R&B underground in 2020. It’s been a common theme all year – undoubtedly the storyline that has driven the greater expanse of our journalistic intrigue. And something about Jxdece’s debut feels penultimate to that theme at large.


For those that don’t know, Nashville’s heat is greatly sourced from the furnace of collaborative growth. The city and the scenes work together, grow together, and support unapologetically. Within the macro, the micro breaks down into subsequent collaborative hotbeds, of which multidisciplined creative collective Third Eye & Co. has proven top shelf in dynamism, ubiquity, and uniqueness. First, JORDAN Xx, released his Springtime debut, Surfing: Highs N Lows – a coming of age hip-hop novella speaking on the truth of Nashville culture, upbringing, and the rising hip-hop prowess of an artist native to both. Next came Ron Obasi’s Sun Tapes – an experimentalist, rasp-ridden push towards the thought-provoking and emotionally immersive. Then came Chuck Indigo’s No Moor Bad Days – a seasoned glimpse into the rapped-sung transcendentalism so fervent not only in Nashville, but across hip-hop at large. Every moment was likewise captured by team camera and hip-hop visionary wunderkind, SECK – one of music’s most prolific emerging videographers.


And now, SYA (Since You Asked).


Texturally, Jxdece is vividly differentiated from his pack. The same can be said for the rest of Third Eye & Co. who have dynamically built their team with an outright celebration of independence and invention. To say that Jxdece passes the same test would be an understatement. To say that he instead is organically redressing the boundaries of hip-hop, its spectral tones of R&B, and the boundlessness both find in Nashville would be more accurate. SYA is that broad.


Through the breadth, from track to track, SYA’s tether of consistency, as it should be, is Jxdece. More so, it’s the calming tone of his deep voice. Like many in music today, the young Nashville figure is a conglomerate creative who wistfully transcends his melody, his flow, and his lyricism. Like so many from Nashville today, he does so over timeless production bookended by the bass-heavy chopped & screwed and the jazz-oriented instrumental. In combination, the auditory aesthetic that ensues could have been so many things, but Jxdece’s fluid incorporation of raw emotion into every corner of his artistry dictates SYA’s direction and instills it with heart and relatability at every turn. His voice, though, keeps it all grounded and consistent, even while so many other unique voices – Chuck Indigo’s signature high tones, Brian Brown’s undeniable draw, and RyAnne’s soothing melody – lend their aesthetics to his project.


That consistency amongst the wavering creativity of SYA’s production, instrumentals, and features is the key. From the meditative, mellow Southern signature that is MISUNDERSTOOD to the emotionally immersive anthem that is BLIND LETTERS, SYA is denoted by Jxdece’s balanced appeals to emotion and invention. Each track on the project adheres, first, to those two tenets of a modern melodic poet. And truthfully, that’s really where Jxdece becomes defined. His strongest moments – and really all of SYA – come when he’s knee-deep in sentiment while pushing through the pain to deliver his evocative lyricism. It’s here that any fan of hip-hop, R&B, spoken word, and the ambient cool that underlines SYA’s entirety feels at home, albeit in a new sonic space. It’s here, that even as Jxdece and SYA meander and take risks, both are somehow consistent and tethered akin.


The hip-hop heads should look towards GOOD LIVING, MISUNDERSTOOD, and i(VENT II). The melodic hip-hop transcendentalists should look towards SOUL ON FIRE, BLIND LETTERS, and MY FAVORITE SONG. And then all should meet in the middle, realizing that the entirety of SYA is a mosaic crafted from the roots of both lanes, and turned into something new and never heard before at the hands of Nashville’s melodic poet.