By Cameron Lee
January 26, 2023
Photo: Daniel White
On TeCoby Hines’ latest EP, Soul Sip, he utters on the track, “From The Soul,” “Man, I’m so human,” before singing the chorus, “If I don’t do it from the soul then I’m wack, yeah / yeah I do it from the soul that’s a fact.” He acknowledges his struggles with wanting to be as authentic as possible, both as an artist and human in his sophomore effort.
The Charlotte-based rapper, singer and producer, who is originally from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, shifts his artistry from the lo-fi, boom-bap, soulful debut of Days Under Sun to an honest poetic jazzy tapestry on his latest project, and Hines is still flexing his lyrical ingenuity at a high level.
His lyrics are contemplative in nature, deeply personal and sincere, like in his intro song “SOFTESPOKEN.” He uses a loungy jazz backdrop to articulate his disdain for the “little bro” mentality often bestowed on new artists. “Everybody at some point in our lives…you just don’t feel as valued as you would want to,” Hines said. “So watch you say to me, watch what you say, and forget all that lil bro,” he raps.
Charlotte’s Yung Citizen produced the first three songs on Soul Sip, the second of which is “Moody,” a dark and decadent track with dreary synths and drums reminiscent of the late ‘90s A Tribe Called Quest run. The song tackles Hines’ anxiety with a worldly consciousness as he deals with everyday people and situations as a father, husband and artist. He reflects on his own shortfalls as he sings the first part of the second verse: “More than enough apologies to my lady, the world gettin’ to me / I know this rollercoaster that I’m on is driving her crazy,” he laments, “all of her prayers, all of her prayers.” The sleek track packs a thoughtful punch as his abstract style of poetic rapping strikes a chord with our collective inner thoughts.
“These anxieties giving me a tease to the hopelessness, for a moment it’s the end of my time / And my mind, sometimes be lying, ain’t that the truth / It be your own B.S. that will mess with you,” he raps.
Sometimes we tend to overreact or be too tough on ourselves, but don’t often express it. Hines is admitting his true inner conflicting thoughts that are probably a lot more common than we think. There’s a soothing but chaotic pace to the song as it rides out to soft horns and synths.
On “From The Soul,” produced by San Diego musician Oped Padilla, Hines links up with JGivens, a Los Angeles rapper he’s long admired as a fan, who adds character and the only other voice on the project. Hines continues to give us his unfiltered truths over the track that features some warbling synth notes: “Cutting off the habits that hindered me, bro / And the goal is to be rooted at whole, or at least have some peace, lord willing.”
It’s evident throughout the compact five-song project, that Hines’ faith is what gets him through most situations. He often reflects on his personal relationship with God as evidenced in “Doesn’t Really Matter,” when he expresses with a double entendre to shine like a sun/son.
Soul Sip is certainly a refreshing palate cleanser, considering the insincere nature of a lot of modern hip-hop. Hines will take the musical project a step further with a collaborative dinner with Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper of award-winning restaurant, Jimmy Pearls, on February 10. Instead of a traditional album release party, Hines and company will transform Free Range Brewing into a speakeasy jazz restaurant, where Johnson and Cooper will pair five small plates (check out the menu) to the songs of Soul Sip.
“We really wanted to make it like a whole experience…to engage people in all senses, like, music, sight, sound, and taste,” said Hines. “I just want to make sure people remember it, and they can remember when they listened to it, heard it, felt it.”
Listen to the latest EP, Soul Sip, by TeCoby Hines, and get more info on the collaborative dinner with Jimmy Pearls on February 10 at Free Range Brewing.