Jumping into 2020 head-first, Devin Burgess released his 14-track Alone EP last week. The 26-minute project finds an engaging balance between Burgess’ introspective and unfiltered lyrics and his gritty self-produced beats. The tape’s flow can best be described as short bouts of transparent expression – whether it be frustration, fear or solitude.
“The project is so self-reflective,” Burgess says of the EP. “I feel like this project was for me, so I can exhale. Just get this all off my chest.”
Alone starts off strong, with lyrical notes of insecurity and resentment. Burgess masterfully juggles his introspective yet biting verses, not to be overshadowed by the tape’s hypnotic beats.
On “Freelance,” the Cincinnati MC shares financial woes that many freelancers – including myself – can identify with. “A lot of it stems from insecurity about being appreciated musically,” he says. “That, and I did a lot of freelance work last year and I need my paper! If you’re taking time to do something, you want to be compensated in some way, shape or form.”
The EP truly takes form with “Wallet.” A project highlight, the song contains incredible duality. Despite Burgess’ vibe-creating drawl, lyrical undertones confront police brutality, with a gunshot punctuating the track’s abrupt ending.
“There’s a lot of undertones in the project. ‘Wallet’ is about me driving with weed in my car and my fear of being stopped by the police,” he explains. “I’m a black man, and an extremist, so in my mind, I’m thinking if I get pulled over by the cops, it’s a wrap. It’s about me being irresponsible, obviously, but also the fear of police brutality happening to me.”
Alone was predominately recorded at home, so that Burgess could tap into his most vulnerable lyrics. “I’ve been real keen on being self-aware about when I get anxious and what makes me anxious,” he says. “A lot of times when I write [music] I learn things about myself that I didn’t know.”
The project also sees an appearance from Kei$ha, Burgess’ wig-wearing producer alter-ego. “It was a Halloween show, it was costume themed. I wasn’t gonna wear a costume, but I didn’t wanna be the only guy there without a costume, so I got a wig,” Burgess explains about how Kei$ha came to be. “A week later… I was talking with [Cincinnati artist] D-Eight about the time before we were born. I was like, ‘Yeah, my mom thought I was gonna be a girl and she was gonna name me Keisha.’ And he was like, ‘You should be Keisha.’ So I came home, put the wig on, and Kei$ha was born,” he continues. “That’s my producer alias.”
No stranger to artistic antics, the rapper explained how swapping his bathrobe for a wig helps him have fun at shows. “It’s just something goofy to do,” he says. “It’s another way to keep my name in people’s mouths and stay interesting.” Kei$ha’s production style can best be described as a “beats hoarder,” with Burgess saying she adds a little “dustiness” to the EP.
As usual, Burgess has several production jobs on the horizon. But for now, with the release of Alone, he can breathe a sigh of relief.
Stream the EP below.