To R&B singer Daniel Breland (MSB ’17), music serves much more than its artistic purpose; it has the ability to make powerful statements about society. In his latest EP, “Stop Everything,” which was released on Dec. 14 on Soundcloud, Breland grapples with contemporary issues in a passionate yet engaging manner that is sure to entertain listeners.
The five-track EP is Breland’s release for the fall season, and is the first of four seasonal albums that, according to Breland in an interview with The Hoya, will bounce off one another to create a complete album that will “get people thinking.”
With “Stop Everything,” Breland kicks off the project with a mixed batch of tracks that blend the electronic, soul and hip-hop genres with confessional lyrics, which work together to create a unique effect. All the tracks on the EP are produced by Breland’s longtime friend and collaborator, Nathan Anthony, who studies at New York University.
Breland’s mastery of lyric-writing is evident immediately with the first song on the EP, “Used.” Reminiscent of a mix between Super Mario-esque synths and Jay Sean, the song initially comes off as just another ballad from a protective boyfriend, but its lyrics call attention to the current generation’s tendencies to walk on eggshells when defining relationships and taking the next step.
The second track, “Love Like This,” explores the theme of technology within romantic relationships. Breland makes a number of modern references, from “swiping to the right” to using the “kissy face” to “follow[ing] back,” touching on the hardships of communication in the age of modern technology. The song also features a catchy chorus and a slower beat.
Next up on the EP is “Fragile,” a modern song about lost love, which is characterized by suspended notes and a strong beat that contributes once again to the EP’s overall catchy sound. The track stands out for its ghoulish sound that is reflected in the more heart-breaking lyrics and the rhythm of the guitar picking.
Breland saved the two best tracks for last. The penultimate song, “They Don’t Care,” is a rhythmic cry for justice that comments on race relations over the past few years. The simplicity of the chorus — “I think we ‘bout to go to war / It’s clear they never cared about us” — and beat highlight the overt presence of racism in present-day society. In the song, Breland poses questions about how to protect black lives and hold police accountable for “terrorist acts.” His expression of frustration and abandonment by the government is particularly marked as he asks: “Why is the hate so strong?”
The last song, “History Repeats,” is a soulful anthem for equality. The song starts by referencing images and themes related to black history, from a burning church to police brutality. With this song, Breland links modern race relations to the past, evoking a powerful message for society to do more.
Beyond its socially conscious lyrics, “Stop Everything” is a mix of both historically and currently black genres — soul, R&B and hip-hop. Breland said he hopes his music can inspire the public to “march, protest, question authority” and “think critically about their own power to change their environment.” With contagious melodies and passionately-written lyrics, “Stop Everything” definitely rises to the occasion.