17 – “Space_” – creative processes fueled by perfectionism

Director, actor, and musician, Rashad Scroggins, was introduced to what would later become his craft, by his dad, who took him to the studio to meet legendary artist Raheem DeVaughn. Years later Rashad would meet up with Lil’Mo, who gave him the moniker “17”, due to his young age, and put him in the game of touring where he would be introduced to artists such as Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Common, and Miguel. 17 started out as a videographer, which allowed him to be in sessions an on the road, but it also offered him the chance to learn how to be his own artist. All of which brings us to “Space_”, the latest 4 track project by 17, which dropped officially on September 27 2020.

For me, 17 arrives as if out of nowhere, with no tags or hype attached to him, considering who he has rubbed shoulders with. His originality reaches far beyond the nature of the dope, electronically infused, bass-heavy beats, merging hip-hop stylings with warm, atmospheric urban soul and R&B. It’s also 17’s voice and lyrics that help separate him from other contemporary urban artists.

Though the soundscapes are often dreamy and comfortably elastic, what makes “Space_” so painstakingly real, are the themes 17 is discussing here, as he uses profound introspection to tackle both, life’s afflictions, and its blessings. In an R&B market that is overly generic and dull with overused tropes, 17 has brought something much more, something much needed, something real, with this project.

17’s songwriting obviously draws heavily from the writer’s own experiences, which is what makes the songs on “Space_” so real and relatable. He opens the project with the languid “Habits” – a song which “addresses the ills of uncommitted relationships”. Like any of 17’s songs, the story is emotionally vivid and detail-rich, as well as being simultaneously poetic and plainspoken.

The EP jumps from one big topic to the next, weighing on 17’s restless mind, and its arrangements bend accordingly. On “Love Yourself”, 17 ups the tempo a notch, adding a pop bounce, into a song that encourages self-love and self-empowerment. It introduces a slick songwriter with an amiable presence, a gift for merging words, and a high level of musical finesse. All of which coalesce into a smooth uplifting mix on this track.

“On Me” transposes crystal-clear artistry through an emotional complexion: nostalgic, urgent, and somewhat mesmerizing, the song stands as one of deep-rooted expression, considering love, longing and desire.

17’s voice flows like a sultry and silky embrace between melancholy and romance. There’s a focus on the luscious vibe of mellifluous, ambient introspection. 17’s creative processes are fueled by perfectionism, which all boils down to consistency.

The EP closes with the brief and concise “Melodic” – a track that “draws inspiration from the hyped life that comes with the big cities and the artist’s experience in navigating them”. Showing no paucity of inspiration, the track sways swiftly between shuffling drum tempos and beat-less sections, before ending abruptly, and leaving you with a burning desire to hear more. Which is perhaps the whole point of this recording.

The EP “Space_”, is so arrestingly smooth that all of its unusually shaped pieces of originality fit together as a seamless whole. Rashad Scroggins aka 17, is more than just a voice, and “Space_” sees him illustrate all the ways in which he’s a true artist.

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