Suicide is available via:
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
31st January, 2018
THIS time around…
I am looking at an artist who has made big impressions in the music industry already – despite the fact he is pretty young himself. Titus Makin is a hot name in L.A. - and one of new music’s most interesting artists. I will talk about his latest song, Suicide, in a minute but, before then, a few sides of his persona that warrant conversation. I wanted to talk about black artists in the music industry – and the fact they have to fight harder than their peers. I will move on to look at songs that tackle addiction, concerning love and affection; how that can come alive and get inside the head. I’ll also look at actors-turned-musicians and how the disciplines interlock; from there, a chat about L.A. and its always-fantastic scene; artists who are growing in confidence and can make changes in the music industry. I have featured Makin before and was drawn, last time, to his infectious music and gripping personality. He is a bold and arresting artist who can command the listener’s attention and get his music into the brain. His songs, Rope and So Good are his previous cuts, get right where they should: lodged in the heart, mind and soul. It is an effective and physical sensation one gets. I am excited seeing where the American can head and how his E.P., I’ll talk about that at the end, will get him onto the world map. I wanted to look at race in music because I feel, like gender, there is imbalance and division happening in music. Some will argue racial disparity is nothing new: there has always been a bigger platform offered to white artists. I am noticing, as movements come through and voices ring; people are noticing the splits and compelled to d something about it. Maybe Makin does not feel a musical segregation in L.A. – perhaps he has been afforded the same chances his white colleagues have. I feel, still, we are living in a world where the colour of one’s skin is an issue. Music is fairer than some issues: there are still problems regarding certain genres and how black artists are promoted. For instance; mainstream Pop still had that very clean, white and commercial sound.
We have genres like Hip-Hop, Rap and Soul where, for the most part, black artists get a chance to shine. The problem with that is (those genres) rarely assimilate fully into the mainstream. The most popular forms of music – Pop, Rock and Alternative – are largely composed of white artists. I feel there is a lack of respect for black artists that should be tackled and purged at this time. We are seeing gender play a role in music right now: campaigners and artists speaking out against injustice and abuse. One cannot help look around music and, not only notice there are fewer black artists on our screens and promoted in music; their music, I feel, has extra depth and quality. Titus Makin has made a success of his career and not had to battle too much discrimination. I wonder, though, whether his race will be an issue as he attempts to move into the forefront of music. It is conceivable he will be in a position to transcend into the mainstream and make a difference – will he be delayed, slightly, because of his race?! It is interesting to consider but, in many ways, Makin’s success and progression is hugely inspirational for fellow black artists. I wonder whether real change and equality will happen in my lifetime. We are making steps towards gender-equality and some form of improvement. When it comes to race, we can feel and see problems. Award shows are nominating fewer black acts; artists of colour are overlooked in favour of white artists. With big new names like SZA, Cardi B and Chance the Rapper providing exceptional music and fire – things really do need to change in the industry. Titus Makin is a fantastic artist whose songs transcend genre and racial barriers and have struck the collective consciousness. Let’s hope, as music looks inwards and ways it can change, the L.A.-based artist is elevated to the spotlight. There are other aspects of Makin’s music that catch my eye.
Love is a topic explored thoroughly in music. I have seen a trend happening in music. Artists are looking inwards more and concentrating on personal confessions. Solo artists of Pop are taking a more introverted and emotional approach to songwriting. Many songwriters, still, look at love and its various sides. It is a hard subject to get right, mind. I am hearing so many clichés and tropes when it comes to relationships. How many songs, that look at love, have remained in the mind lately? It is impossible adding anything genuinely new to love. You can explore similar lines but, in the case of Titus Makin, he takes a unique approach and, with it, draws the listener in. Suicide takes a rather physical and unsettled approach to relationships. I will talk about the song soon but, for now, a look at the downsides of relationships. The track explores the toxic nature of bonds and how a bad bond can make an impression on a person. I am not sure how many relationships (of this kind) Makin has been involved with. We have all been in the situation where a relationship, we thought was good, has gone sour and taken its toll. It is brave talking about love and putting that negative spin on it. Most of us want to explore something positive and hopeful. We want to look at love and know it is going to be okay for us. If we are to make improvements and become stronger; music needs to give us that drive and impetus. What Makin does, in his latest song, is to explore a dangerous love and how that can take all rationale away. He has been, I assume, in a position where he’s been out of control and guided by a vixen. That poisonous bond has turned his mind inwards – he is looking at himself and how he can climb out of things.
The reason, I feel, the song is addictive and necessary is it looks at the way we can learn from situations like this. Many songwriters revel in love and paint positivity all over the place. It is all well and good talking about the fine aspects of relationships and how good it can be. As I said; we need to have that hope and find something constructive in music. The reality of love is, at times, it can go wrong and mislead us. It is challenging and risky putting a song out there tackling the spiked and harsh elements of relationships. Titus Makin has been through a bad love and changed as a person. Rather than spit hatred and accusation on the page; he has turned his experience into something forward-looking. He does not want to change as a person and become harder. He has had a tough time, sure, but wants other people to learn from his experience. I know many people have been in ruinous relationships and been hooked by that seemingly perfect taste. They get engrossed and invested and, before you know it, the truth comes to light. Songs such as Suicide, on paper, sound bleak and hopeless. The fact remains: one can hear the song and find sympathy for the songwriter. You are braced by the urgency and emotion of the song. Rather than come away from the song feeling drained and suffocated; the listener, instead, is guided and enriched. That may sound odd – you have to hear the song to understand, I suppose. I am looking for artists who stand out and can talk about things like love in a fresh and exciting way. Makin knows the value of relationships and discussing something we can all relate to. If you provide stereotype and common themes; people will get bored and wander off. To grab the mind and remain in the memory; artists need to go further and project something original. Titus Makin is an artist who understands this and provides something fantastic and nuanced.
Many people might recognise Titus Makin already. If you have seen Glee or Star-Crossed (on CW); you might have come across him. He has been in Pretty Little Liars and NCIS. He is currently appearing in Hulu’s The Path – a successful and busy actor who has covered a lot of ground and is making a name for himself. There is more acting to come but, in that Hulu show, he has a chance to learn disciplines he is bringing to music. I have often said how acting and music have a very close association. We watch great dramas and comedies and there is a sense of theatre and performance that we hear in music. The finest songwriters and singers have that acting discipline: the ability to project with verve and conviction; getting under the skin and ensuing your sounds remain in the mind. That is one of the hardest things in music: ensuring listeners remember your music and come back to your stall. In a time when people are less attentive and looking for that new thing – keeping people coming back is very hard indeed. I have heard a few songwriters, today, that have the ability to remain and endure: there are far too many who slip by and do not linger too much. Titus Makin has been in some great shows and learnt a lot as an actor. He has performed in some big scenes and performed in some epic set-ups. He has used his talent as an actor and brought that to the people of music. Listen to a song like Suicide and the fact it is so packed and addicting is the fact Makin has learnt a lot from acting. You hear the song and are immersed in a performance. It is like being in a dramatic encounter where a lover is manipulating the hero. The two are embraced and involved in something deceptive and fraudulent. Makin does not rattle the words off and ignore the bigger picture. He ensures every line registers and the listener is taking every step of the way. It is difficult keeping people focused and involved with a song.
I will move onto other areas soon but, before then, a last look at acting and how that integrates with music. L.A., especially, is a huge market where there are many hopeful actors – all trying to ‘make it’ and get their faces onto the big screen. I know Titus Makin will get there but, rather than put all his eggs in the acting basket; he is a great artist who uses his skills to get ahead of his peers. I know he has trained hard and been in some great productions. We have seen some actors step into music – with shaky results – but the very best balance the different forms. The reason I feel actors can make great musicians – or the other way around – is the fact the best music, in my view, is a performance. Even if a song is subtle and careful – you listen to it and feel a degree of drama, excitement and physicality. There is something in the notes that filter into the senses and remain long in the memory. Makin wants listeners to take his songs to heart and share them; to learn something from them that enriches their lives. As an actor, Makin aims for the same things. He wants every performance to stand out and make an impact. There is a close relationship between his acting work and what he does in music. The danger of working in both fields is the risk of burn-out and fatigue. It is stressful enough making a career in music and trying to be successful. It is wonderful watching someone like Titus Makin making a surge and find success in acting and music. We see him on the screen and revel in his skills and authority. We listen to Titus Makin’s music and feel the same things. He has learnt a lot from both areas and, if anything, has learnt a lot from music and brings that into his acting roles.
It is interesting seeing how L.A. has shaped and changed over the decades. I am based in London and can see how the scene has evolved through time. It is wonderful seeing great bands and Pop artists come to the capital. Rock bands are playing here but there are far fewer decent ones than, say, the 1990s. Rap and Hip-Hop are making a stand; Soul and R&B is fairly strong – Electro-Pop is, perhaps, the fastest-growing sector. The same, to an extent, is true of L.A. The Californian city is burgeoning and overflowing with fantastic music. I have not scratched the surface but there is so much life and activity coming from the city. Pop is still a big market and, over the years, it has grown and changed. We think of L.A. and associate it with constant sunshine and light. Because of that; we have a very limited scope of the place and assumption. Titus Makin is part of a group of people who challenge conventions and take Pop in new directions. Makin brings Soul in and R&B; he integrates various genres and decades of music. One gets that modern blast – but there are aspects of classic Soul and some vintage undertows. I am wary of the impressions we have regarding cities and the type of music they provide. L.A. is such a vast and dominating landscape. I have seen a move happening and a fresh breed taking to the stage. The city is alive and moving; it is bustling and engaging. I hear a lot of great Rock bands coming out of L.A. but, for the most part, it is the Pop sector taking the most ground. Rather than commercial and predictable stuff; artists like Titus Makin and pushing boundaries and creating something fuller and more rewarding. It is not surprising we think of L.A. and think of acting. Hollywood is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of L.A. If anything; the music coming from Los Angeles is more dramatic, full and fantastical than ever.
I am not saying musicians have tried to create something filmic and ‘Hollywood’. My point is (music of L.A.) is more rounded, colourful and substantial than previous times. I feel the city is more competitive and challenging than it ever has been, too. More and more people are located there and, because of that, it is harder to stand out. I feel that is another reason why the music is so good. Musicians know they need to step their game up and provide something extraordinary – if they want to stand aside and get some success. Like London; L.A. is a wonderful area with an incredible music scene. Titus Makin is making big steps and creating a blossoming fanbase. His acting work – and the fact we recognise his face – has helped bring his work to new audiences. I will end the piece by talking about gigs and whether he will come to the U.K. Although Suicide has been out a while – I meant to come to the song earlier; a bit buried in other stuff – but his E.P., Lean, is out later this year. I know it will gain a huge amount of respect and mark him as a name to watch. It is interesting, given he is an actor, seeing Titus Makin in music videos. The one for Suicide was directed by seventeen-year-old filmmaker, Jake Williams. The head-spinning shots and colour-saturated visions create this dizzying and spellbinding look. Makin pulls out a great performance and brings his skills to the screen. The strong video has drawn people in and seen the song gain fresh kudos and appeal. I wonder whether L.A.’s musicians are so strong and varied is because of the close links with Hollywood. It is easier, I guess, making your music bolder and more electric, if you are surrounded by filmmakers and actors. I am excited seeing how far Titus Makin can take his music – and, whether he will get to the door of the mainstream very soon.
One notices the smoothness and seductiveness of the voice. I have mentioned how Titus Makin, and Suicide, is a Pop affair. If anything; the opening moments portray a Soul king with a heart of silk. The delivery is fine and flowing; the richness and chocolate-like nature of his voice bring the words to life. The tears are running down his face and his heart is stopping. He has to hold on and find strength in a bad situation. The hero wants to remain in the game – even if the sweetheart is messing him around and taking him for granted. Maybe it is the drug-like aspect of the love; perhaps there is a draw and allure that is hard to walk away from. Whatever it is; Makin cannot quit and forget what he is involved with. I wonder whether this hard love, and its damaging candour, is too deep and important to relegate and delete. Makin’s love is worth “its weight in gold” and, although his lover will never realise that; he is not stepping aside and letting it melt. Makin delivers his words with such flow and seduce. The lines race and rise; the voice goes high and the composition remains light. There are beats and electronics but, for the most part, the voice is framed and in the centre. The video sees Makin against a wall with his hands held high. He is almost in a prayer as he pleads for a new chance and appreciation. The colours strike and the visuals portray a confusion, drunken realisation and sobering thought. This relationship is causing strain and creating scars. It has turned and, rather than this wonderful thing; he is being let down and overlooked. Our man has a pure heart and his intentions are good. Rather than value this and keep him safe; his lover is manipulative, cold and calculated. This has caused all sorts of pains but, rather than cut loose and get out – we see the hero stay around and try and see a brighter side. Makin has given everything since the start – his heart has almost committed suicide, as it were – and that counts for nothing, it seems.
Makin is pleading and imploring the gods for some sort of clarity and strength. I am surprised someone would cause Makin any stress and concerns. The reason why the relationship is breaking is not explained right from the start. The listener is free to imagine and wonder what has caused this rift. The chorus sees the voice skip and strike; the beats tighten and it gets bold and invigorating. That blend of Soul and Pop comes to the fore as Makin’s voice is, at once, silken and strident. He rides the beats but pours sugar and spice onto the speakers. I was caught by the waves and the way the song transforms. It kicks up a gear and we wonder whether the duo is going to be reconciled. The chorus is a fantastically ripe and wonderful thing to behold. The voice is so beautiful and soothing; the music alive and alert – it all gets into the heart and causes it to beat faster! The hero is unwilling to depart and wants to know why things are not working. He is a good man and has a kind spirit. It seems like this is the first time that has been ignored and questioned. In a way; Suicide is a rare blow to a human who has given his everything to people. Maybe it is a bad one-off that will never be repeated. I have looked at the song from different directions and wonder why Makin wants to remain with someone who seems so callous. I guess that is part of his nature: never willingly submissive and cold enough to walk off. There is something deeper that means, against sense in a way, the hero clings and stays with his love. They have been through a lot and there is an aspect/ingredient he cannot get anywhere else. It is that stirring and memorable chorus that draws me in. I love the delivery and its juddering, catchy sound! The way the song goes from that fiery and burnishing chorus to the smoother, soulful verses keeps the listener guessing, engaged and hooked. You are involved in the song and feel empathy towards Makin. He has been through the mill and, rather than cast blame and accuse; he is willing to stay true and give his all. It would be easy to walk away and find someone new. Rather than forget everything he has been through and erase it from the mind; he wants to give the relationship another shot and gain some perspective. I wonder, by the end, whether they worked things out or, as I fear, there was no way to heal the cracks evident. Suicide is a terrific song that shows, even this early in his career, Titus Makin is like nobody else. His previous couple of singles have shown what he is truly capable of. Suicide is a wondrous offering from a young man who will go a long way in the industry.
I have mentioned how his E.P., Lean, is out later in the year. Makin has made strides and established himself as one of the brightest young musicians out there. Suicide tackles something tough – toxic love and its effects – and makes it accessible and embracing. You are never put off by the song: one is involved with Suicide and follows it every step of the way. I am excited about the E.P. and will make sure I get involved with it. Titus Makin is busy with acting but, as his music career takes off; he will be looking around the world and getting his music to the people. I wonder whether he will come to the U.K. and play for us here. I would love to see him perform, for sure. There are few out there, like him, who provide such intense and deep music. I have been engrossed in his latest work and questioning my initial thoughts – whether I was right about its origins and qualities. The song has been explained by its writer but, when you listen, you’ll have your own views and interpretations. I have chatted about race in music and how it can be harder, as a black artist, getting respect. Titus Makin might have faced those barriers – in acting and music – but, if anything, he acts as a role model and guide. I want to see changes in the music industry. We have too much racism and sexism in an industry that should promote equality, love and togetherness. It is hard seeing some artists overlooked because of their gender and race. Titus Makin is a stunning and evocative songwriter who is going to do big things in the industry. Suicide is proof he is one of the best young talents around. A captivating voice that ensures every word pops off the page – you listen to his music and are helpless to resist its power. I will leave the review here but want to recommend people get involved and follow Makin. He is making steps and has big plans right now. Whether it takes a few years – or is sooner than that – you know, one day, he will be rubbing shoulders among the biggest names in music. Every new release shows he is growing and building in stature. Suicide is a typically solid offering from an American artist who wants to put his music to as many people…
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