GIVĒON is known to wear his heart on his sleeve, no matter how much it hurts him in the end. Preceding his magnetic EP, Take Time, in 2020, the Long Beach native has arguably had the best start to a career any artist could ask for.
Although actively releasing music before his breakout hit on Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle,” his run has been virtually unstoppable since that moment. After receiving a handful of GRAMMY nominations for Take Time, and its chart-topping single “Heartbreak Anniversary,” fans know that he’s more than capable of maintaining this level of recognition for many years to come. His awe-inspiring voice and immersive, love-torn narratives are just a teaser for the major feature, as GIVĒON not only proves he’s worth 10 times that of a Drake stimulus, but wows once more on his proper debut album Give Or Take.
By now, fans of GIVĒON know how much love he has for his mother, and how fundamental she is to his psyche. Both raising him and crafting his musical ear, it seems as though she gives him the confidence to use his voice as an instrument in itself. Echoing throughout GIVĒON’s discography, Give Or Take opens with a phone conversation between him and his mother — praising him for all success he’s seen over the past few years. “I really feel like this is a dream, and I’ll tell you ’bout it when I wake up” she says, full of gratitude and joy for the star that her son has become.
With Take Time and his 2021 double EP When It’s All Said And Done both being centered around falling in love, dealing with heartbreak and the aftermath of it all, Give or Take offers the approach of GIVĒON being so infatuated with love, but is afraid to fall again due to his troubled past and issues dealing with his own emotions. The opening track, “Let Me Go,” is GIVĒON realizing that his lover wants nothing more to do with him, but still tries his luck anyways.
“Slide, slide through (Slide)
Decide if I am worth the time I caused you
Let me know or let me go
Try, try to
To find if I am worth the time I caused you
Let me know or let me go
Let me go”GIVĒON — “Let Me Go”
Finally coming to terms with the idea of having to move on, another turning point in the album comes from “dec 11th” and “This Will Do.” On the former, GIVĒON tells the story about a woman he sees in the crowd at one of his shows in Houston. The mystery woman he locked eyes with left GIVĒON speechless — setting the tone as the introduction for the latter cut.
On “This Will Do,” GIVĒON speaks about him being at a point in his life where he is finally out of a relationship and experiencing what a “love at first sight” feeling is truly like. While he knows that this is a woman he just met — and probably is only infatuated with her beauty — he is confused as to whether or not this is real love or lust for the night.
“For Tonight” calls back on this wavering motif. The album’s 2021 lead single hears him crooning “We’ve been done, long before it all began” right at the start of the track, further falling back into the throes — and apparent comfort — of a toxic love. However, for the first time in his life, GIVĒON is a bachelor. While many may look at this as one of the advantages to being a superstar singer, he is human — left dazed, confused and is still getting used to feeling out of place.
“Lost Me” is perhaps the climax of the album where GIVĒON realizes that life is coming at him too fast. Trying to hit the breaks before he falls into another trap of love — admittedly putting himself first — GIVĒON knows that he has to remain selfish and protect his heart to avoid starting all over.
“I’m not lookin’ for the one
Later, but for now I’m havin’ fun
I’m done ’cause I always get hurt
Won’t be here for long
Baby, you can hate me if you want
But now, I gotta put myself first”GIVĒON — “Lost Me”
On the second promotional track “Lie Again,” he unfolds a moment in time with yet another specific “love interest.” While this unnamed flame may not be best person for him, he implores them to say everything he wants to hear — even if it’s not the truth.
I, I pretend no one has had you like I did
I don’t need the truth, baby
So lie (Lie), lie again, no one has had you like I did (Ooh, woah, oh)
I don’t need the truth, baby, no (Ooh-woah, ooh-woah, ooh-woah)GIVĒON — “Lie Again”
The context of “Lie Again” is a full circle moment on the record — making the most sense when listening to Give Or Take in chronological order. It’s a tumultuous, love-torn tale from beginning to end, as GIVĒON pens his personal experiences within the pages of his conscious. Balancing both what’s right and wrong for him, in this moment, he knows that this person isn’t here for him and may never have his best interest at heart. However, he doesn’t seem to care. He wants this person to lie to him and tell him everything he wants to hear, regardless of the reality. Anything to take his mind off of what the truth is, is enough for GIVĒON.
While the phrase “give or take” is normally used as a placeholder for the word “approximately,” the theme surrounding the album’s title is certainly more profound. It’s apparent that GIVĒON is a giver (no pun intended). He has no issue with wearing showing his emotions for all to see; because after dealing with heartbreak time and time again — and the aftermath of it all — GIVĒON realizes that he has to put himself first. Taking what’s best for him and looking out for his own well-being, he strives to come to terms with his emotions in order to protect his own happiness. Right now, it’s all about GIVĒON, proving that it isn’t always selfish to be selfish.
Check out GIVĒON’s debut album ‘Give or Take’ below!