Blvck Svm and PilotKid’s ‘jetsvm’ is an Understated, Contemplative Exhibition of Refined Beatmaking and Detail-Oriented Poetics
Evan Dale // Dec 16, 2023
jet • sam (noun) - material or goods that have been deliberately thrown overboard by the crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the vessel.
It can be hard to imagine the heavy lives of those whose art we admire and listen to. Even through the pain they often spell out in their creations, consumers have a tendency to ignore the mouth from where the message spouts, and instead imagine the glitzy, glamorous lives of an artist. And with a lyricist like Florida-rooted, Chicago-based Blvck Svm – who paints vividly poetic about everything fine dining and high fashion from squid ink and omakase to Yamamoto and Prada – it’s a consumer tendency founded in reason. But there’s more to the man than only the art.
‘That's what this project embodies. The premise of writing and releasing a bunch of songs during the most turbulent stretch of my personal life in an attempt to lighten the load I've been carrying is analogous to what a ship's crew does during a bad storm to prevent their vessel from sinking.’
Solus understatedly underlines jetsvm, drenched in cool tones and a subtle melancholia that leaves the EP energetically grounded, while simultaneously lyrically high-minded to a level unparalleled elsewhere in the modern scene. Blvck Svm’s defining ornamentation has always been that of the overtly lyrical. His ability to pen a punchline with such meticulous detail sometimes feels like a post-graduate thesis. And yet, his last project – 2022’s mangalica mink – brimmed equally with some bass-thudding braggadocio that underlined the whole thing with more rap-traditional machismo than seems implemented here, in 2023. Instead, his new project opts for mellow throughlines, and special attention allotted to the words. Much of that has to do with who’s behind the curtain.
‘jetsvm is entirely produced by Pilotkid, who over the past year has not only become one of my favorite producers on the planet, which is a very cool thing, but also my friend in real life, which is an even cooler thing. I first stumbled across his production back in September 2020, a YouTube beat that went on to become supercomputer, which still is a very important song to me despite having since been tossed into the ether, because it marks my introduction to one of the most talented people I know.’
There’s an apparent balance between the two. Blvck Svm’s deadpan flow and understated delivery open vast spaces to really absorb the detail of PilotKid’s keystrokes, instrumentals, samplings, and overarching punctiliousness. Likewise, PilotKid’s abstinence from attention-seeking grandioso provides Blvck Svm the ample space to organically craft immersive bars without the need to expend his energy fighting the beat or trying to craft a cliché banger.
'I didn't think much of what more we could accomplish together until December 2021 when he sent me a beat that eventually became my current most popular song, hyogo: as soon as I finished writing it I knew we had created something significant. I hesitated to release it because I knew it would be a huge song if pushed properly, and at the time I wasn't confident that the company distributing my music would be able to do that. So I threw it in the vault and waited. In August 2022 the dust settled, I signed a distribution deal with EMPIRE, and it finally felt like the right time to release it. I made hyogo the second single off my December 2022 project titled mangalica mink, and it blew up like I thought it would.'
This time around, it was cueto – released at the end of October – that led Blvck Svm and PilotKid’s way release bound. A jazzy beat dripping with half-muted brass and some delicate, waterfalling chimes bleed in and out of a cascade of poeticism that would leave any other rapper tongue-tied, but feel sleepily handed over by Svm.
'I’m at RPM, carefully crafting a manifesto.
Ravioli looking like Michael Phelps in the pesto.
It’s not on the menu, I’m cool with paying the extra.
Carats in the cutlery conjure a different spectrum.'
Blvck Svm’s ability to infuse his rhymes with high culinary reference is so well-documented at this point, and yet every new example reads like the at-first jarring and then world-opening bite into a new course on a progressive menu.
Rancic, Psaltis, Melman – look it up.
'A few weeks after mangalica mink dropped, Pilotkid asked me if I'd be interested in doing a collab project with him. For me it was a no-brainer.'
oxtailgravy – November 3 – kept the train moving forward. Bubbling over with more balance and more bars, this time PilotKid wove a dreamwave guitar riff into the beat, and Svm spun more impossibly vivid allegory.
And komotobelt – December 1 – tied together the string of pre-release singles, tying back, too, culturally, thematically, and collaboratively to the special moment where hyogo cemented the pair’s working relationship.
'Over the next few months we talked themes and concepts, he sent a bunch of beats, I sent a bunch of demos, we exchanged [flame emojis] and all-caps compliments, we exchanged critiques and edit requests, we octuple-texted, we sent long-winded voice messages, we got on calls, we checked in with each other on a personal level, and we kept our feet on the gas until we felt our tanks were empty. And when the skeleton began to grow flesh it really felt like we were making something special.'
Now, that something special is jetsvm. With the addition of four more tracks, tethered beginning to end with the throughlines of an instrumentally-founded, delicately detailed beatpack from PilotKid and the thought-provoking, landscape-painting lyrical dynamism of Blvck Svm, the project reads enigmatically understated and contemplative at a time when rap at large has struggled to pull itself from trap-laden, high-fidelity pop adjacency.
‘jetsvm represents how suddenly a clear Miami sky can turn into an ominous swarm of swollen clouds, a calm current into a churning broth. And that represents how my brain has been working these past couple years. I've found the best way to weather those storms is to lighten the load. And I just wanna thank PK and my whole crew for helping me throw these tracks overboard.’