When parents first teach their infants how to swim, it’s not uncommon for them to toss them into a pool without assistance, as their instinctual treading reflexes developed in the womb allow them to stay afloat.
This is a similar sentiment conveyed on Redveil‘s newest album learn 2 swim, although the motivation for his ambitious plunge into the metaphorical deep is of his own volition and out of necessity.
The Maryland native christened his entrance into legal adulthood by dropping the project on his 18th birthday. However, at such a young age, this project demonstrates the skills and outlook of an artist wise beyond his years, continuing to hone his craft and improve upon the storied niche of hip-hop he immerses himself in.
There are two separate aspects of learn 2 swim that show elite development and talent from Veil, with the first being his production, as he asserted that every song on the album was produced by himself.
learn 2 swim spans just over half an hour, as the beats on all 12 songs mostly grasp the same format that Redveil has refined over the last few years up until this point.
Typically, he’ll open the the track with a smooth piano entrance that swiftly transitions into either a jazzy beat with woodwind and/or brass instruments or epic drums with crashing cymbals, creating a vintage, poised atmosphere for him to get his bars off. This was demonstrated the best on songs like the intro “together,” the two promotional singles “diving board” and “better” or the closer “working on it.”
When he doesn’t follow this model, he’ll also flex his muscles in the sample department, as the East Coast boom-bap inspiration he flourishes in takes over. The best examples of this on the project are the electric “you can go your own way” sample from Band of Thieves‘ 1976 song “Love Me Or Leave Me” on “pg baby,” the “oooh” harmonies from the “Reflections” by Albert Jones sample on “new info” or the sampling of the jingling chimes on the outro of Isaiah Rashad‘s 2021 single “From The Garden” with Lil Uzi Vert on “home.”
Considering that he does all the heavy lifting for every dimension of the instrumentals, Redveil’s attention to detail, creativity and confidence in his ideas are remarkable for someone who just celebrated their legality.
As for the rapping, Redveil’s awe-inspiring delivery and contemplative lyricism has absolutely peaked on learn 2 swim — with still much more left to climb and conquer. While the cadence, wordplay and rhyming are all setting a new standard for Veil, what truly makes this project one of 2022’s best in hip-hop is his topical focus.
All throughout the LP, the PG County-raised teen continues to hammer away at the notions of perseverance and black love. For instance, allusions he provides for swimming or being underwater that connect to pushing through struggle or being relentless are scattered all over the project.
Whether it be opening the album with the line “When that air in your lung, what you gon’ do with that breath? Watch the weight of my tongue, put my name on my chest” on “together” or spitting masterful flows like “My brother said you learn how to swim if he throw you in / Holding the pen, it got me blending with ink and fins / I’m holding that lens close ’cause I spoke through my sins / I told myself I’m holding my chin to where ocean begin” on “morphine (da ways)” — his commitment to the motif presented is impeccable.
I ain’t looking over my shoulder, I keep my blood around
Keep my temperament colder, don’t need a hundred rounds
Power structure gon’ see my brother and try to gun him down
Learn to maneuver we swimming we never drown“shoulder” — Redveil
As always in Veil’s music, he loves to emphasize how much his Black heritage and culture mean to him. Songs like “sky” celebrate the unforgiving growing of black hair with the “I’m gon’ let my hair grow up to the sky / She said I’m a star, n****a, she ain’t never lied” hook, while the fourth track “new info” sees Veil demonstrate why his Black pride makes him unstoppable to the “racist regime.
My niggas hungry due to this classic but fascist regime
And I’m chasing ashes if exhaustion the dream
And I’m exhausting the seams
From running, running from these fucking police
They tryn’ dead me ’cause I’m black with a gleam
Can’t nothing cease a nigga back on the scene“new info” — Redveil
When the album approaches its end, a sense of maturity comes over Redveil, as he realizes this determined mindset does not need to come with angst towards his support system. Halfway through the penultimate song “mars,” as he traverses through unfamiliar territory, he realizes his shoulder can have a chip, but it need not be a cold shoulder.
I been the one to not lane switch
But I look like a fool resenting you and you kin to me
Everyday been clear since I found out you ain’t the enemy“mars” — Redveil
The fully realized growth in mindset on the outro “working on it,” with bars like “I see you making that effort, I let you in / Pendulum and my pep still swinging,” align with the growth in production quality and the message conveyed in his lyricism on learn 2 swim.
While Redveil still has much to gain from the seasoned and sage rap peers he admires, evident in his “eighteen” video released before the album, learn 2 swim makes it clear that he is a dynamic voice and talent that cannot go overlooked — even when he is submerged in water.
Check out ‘learn 2 swim’ by Redveil below!