On the Record: Review of ‘Jack of All Trades’ by Chevin Meadows

by Kyle Cochrun

Chevin Meadows’ Jack of All Trades mixtape is a hip-hop sampler dish showcasing the rapper’s lyricism over beats with all sorts of different flavors. Here’s a track-by-track taste test so that you can pick out what flavors agree best with your palate:

1. “Quarter Life Crisis”

Beats: Heavy on spliced-up, honeydew samples of a female soul singer and reminiscent of early ‘90s boom-bap beats à la DJ Premier.

Rhymes: Chevin sips sangria and stresses over whether he is on track to succeed in achieving his dreams of being a well-respected rhyme-sayer. He spits his life, but people compare him to J. Cole because they don’t know what’s up. He concludes that his flow is heaven-sent and that he is a lyrical genius. Plus he rocks fly Uggs. It seems that life will be all right after all.

2. “So Easy”

Beats: Warren G and Dr. Dre on a cruise at sundown in a Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Like a passionfruit smoothie spiked with Hennessy.

Rhymes: “Be smooth with it,” “flow with the vibe,” “keep it cool” and let Jovan Wilder sing the chorus with extra-sweet harmonizing. This one’s for the radio.

3. “Dancin With Her Demons”

Beats: Downtempo tang. Stripped down and featuring a tasty keyboard pitch-bend.

Rhymes: Girls will mess you up. Ask Chevin’s uncle and Bell Biv DeVoe.

4. “LA Dreamin”

Beats: Blueberry-vanilla keyboard tones resembling dim jazz club lighting. That snare drum must be sampled from Lou Donaldson’s cooling-back jazz cover of “It’s Your Thing.”

Rhymes: None. It’s an instrumental, probably designed for late-night cruise cyphers. The beat is head-nod-able but repetitive, lacking the flourishes and variants that might deem it worthy of being three minutes long. A mid-mixtape instrumental should be a producer’s showcase, not a by-the-numbers beat that makes the lack of lyrics feel like an absence.

5. “Everything Is Everything”

Beats: Chilled neo-soul peanut-buttery smoothness with lite hyphy undertones.

Rhymes: In this song dedicated to two deceased aunts, Chevin offers subtle vocal inflections and lines about taking advantage of life while it lasts: “Thinking one day you’ll be happy / You just marking the move-in date / Just to find out you gotta make it within your space.”

6. “Rebels Chant”

Beats: The snares snap, but the fake orchestral strings build to a melody reminiscent of an action film’s car-chase sequence. They offset the track’s flavor like cheap sweetener.

Rhymes: This one’s the battle-rap. Chevin throws verbal shots at wannabe, no-talent rappers. A mic-drop worthy final line: “Y’all flows couldn’t make the team / Now go on and wash them jerseys.” Can you taste the sweat stains?

7. “Self Reflect”

Beats: Too thick to sip through a straw. Layered with antioxidant-rich drums, sustained piano, an angelic chorus harmonizing around back and baby-scratching on the downbeat.

Rhymes: How fresh is Chevin Meadows? “Superfly meets iceberg.”

Jack of All Trades proves that Chevin Meadows can get down on the mic over an array of hip-hop flavors. If there’s an LP in his future, it’s unclear whether he’s better suited to pick one and refine a niche or keep branching out, covering an even wider taste range. For now, keep the appetite whetted.

Kyle Cochrun is a writer from Akron, Ohio who is currently enrolled in the NEOMFA program for creative writing.