Stillborn Identity – “Slow and Steady” album
Earlier last month, Pittsburgh-based rapper Stillborn Identity dropped a brand new album, called Slow and Steady. This album follows up his Aim High, Fall Hard album, released in 2013. In regards to the differences between the two, he said, “I guess I see Slow and Steady as my ‘blue collar’ release, where before I was writing a lot of stuff just about failed relationships, borderline substance (pretty much just booze) abuse, and stuff like that. Aim High, Fall Hard was kind of the segway album between those phases.” When talking about the title of the track, he said that it’s a reference to how long it takes him to make an EP.
There are a total of 7 tracks, one of which we shared a music video for back in July (for “16 Tons“). Despite having received mixed reviews about the slower style songs on his previous album, Stillborn Identity took that route on most of his songs on this album. You can hear that easy-going vibe on songs like: “Mean Clicks“, which finds Stillborn rapping over a mellow boom-bap beat driven by a slow piano melody and the crackling sound of dusty vinyl; “Cool Cruel City“, where he raps about the highs and lows about living in his city, over a real cool, 70’s groove that’s lead by a funky bassline and the deep groan of a horn; and “16 Tons” has a melancholy tone where he reflects on the pain in life, like being in debt, being a slave to work, drowning feelings in alcohol, and things of that nature, over midtempo flicks of a guitar and hushed pounds of the drum. Just to name a few.
Production comes from Jumbled, DJ Nebula, and Joey Smooth, with cuts by DJ Blacklisted on “Mexi Coke”. My favorite songs from this album would be “Cool Cruel City”, “16 Tons”, and “Slow and Something”.
About the production on the album, Stillborn told me: “I got beats from Joey Smooth, Jumbled, and DJ NEB of Political Animals on this. Jumbled has been sending me beats forever and I feel like we’re really finally starting to be able to communicate on how to work together when structuring a song. I remember writing the first few lines of “Mean Clicks” when I was on tour (drunk house guest tour) with Raymond Strife, back in like 2012. So I had slowly been working on that track forever, just waiting for the right words to come by and finish it. “16 Tons”, I obviously wrote in 2013. “Mexi Coke” and “Cool Cruel City” were the more recently written tracks. If I could find my old notebook, I could tell you when exactly I started it but I dunno where it is right now.
Joey Smooth joined Surface Level Records right around its conception. We had been hanging, playing shows, and going to shows a decent bit at the time. He gave me the beat for “Slangin’ Slang”; then a few months down the road, I heard the beat for “Slow and Something” and immediately knew I wanted it. He would only give that one up on the terms he got to rap on it too, ha. Which was cool, because I wanted to have a SLR feature on my release for sure and he kills it. That’s probably my most serious track on the release, especially now that my failure to move to Philly with the girl the second half of my verse is about ultimately led to the demise of our relationship, but it’s kind of nice to have Joe step in and kind of relax everyone a bit more just by doing some silly fun raps, ha.
I booked Political Animals in Pittsburgh a few years ago and that’s how I really got to know DJ NEB. I had played with the group about a year before, but it wasn’t until everyone from that show crashed at my place. It was like all of Political Animals, Old Self, Erik Lamb, some other DJ who I can’t remember, and maybe someone else. I know Skobie Won ended up sleeping in the car, cause I was out of floor space. Either way, we were just drinking beers, hanging all night, shooting the shit. At one point DJ NEB brought his sampler in and started showing us beats. He showed me the beat for “Ceiling Fan Hustle” and right then kind of made it mine. The first verse is something I wrote that was supposed to be a collab with B. Done for a Hartford and Record compilation Jumbled was making, probably in like 2012, but B. Done never wrote his verse, so it never came out. I had just been sitting on this 16 I really liked for a while by the time these groups all crashed at my house. I decided to put that verse to the beat NEB gave me and was trying to get Old Self and Sotorios (front man on Political Animals) to lace a verse on it. Obviously when we were all boozed up it seemed like a good idea, but it just kind of never happened. After trying to get them to do something for like a year, I decided to abandon ship and kind of forgot about the track, ha. Eventually I found it again and decided to finish it and thought it fit the loose concept I had going for this release.”
Stream the album in its entirety below, and feel free to name your price on it over at Bandcamp. You can also get your hands on a limited edition (of 500) CD copy for only $5.