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redveil Wants to Keep Fans Above Water

PG County rapper redveil’s 2022 album, ‘learn 2 swim,’ is his best yet.

This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

redveil learned to swim by jumping headfirst into 11 feet of water at the community pool. “You gotta learn how to swim,” he says at the top of our call. “It’s either that, or you drown.” redveil’s dive into swimming coincided with the age he started rapping, which feels cosmic for an artist whose ethos is to show listeners the importance of applying effort without being perfect. “You just have to try,” redveil explains. “It’s not even about being fully successful on the first go. You have to jump in, in some capacity, to learn.”

The 18-year-old rapper first broke with 2020’s Niagara, which he describes as a catalog of liberation. It was made in response to a moment of clarity, of freedom from depression and anxiety, of feeling “untouchable.” The off-kilter raps of Niagara quickly led to a cult following online, but more than anything, redveil wants to reach out to real people in the real world. “I see it on my phone more than anything else,” he explains to Audiomack World. “It’s just a bunch of numbers on the screen and doesn’t really mean a whole lot. I can go into an audience of 50 people, and you feel that impact way more.”

With his new album learn 2 swim, out today, redveil is redefining the coming-of-age-novel-turned-rap-album for a new generation. The PG County rapper’s conviction is damn near overwhelming in its greatness. It’s music that makes you grateful for rap’s existence. From single “diving board” to the one-two punch of “sky” into “morphine (da ways),” learn 2 swim is redveil’s most personal offering, and one he’s ready for people to receive.

“I hope I can tell myself that things went according to plan,” redveil says when I ask him what he hopes to tell his 18-year-old self by 36. “Even if they didn’t, that I served my purpose on the earth, which is releasing good music for people and having a positive impact. I just hope that my impact is for people to feel good about themselves, and for them to keep pushing.”

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What does swimming mean to you as a metaphor?

Swimming means surviving—more than that. It means thriving physically and mentally. You gotta be on top of your stuff and handle your business. Mental health, there’s a lot of stuff I never felt comfortable opening to people about. I suffer from pretty bad depression and anxiety, and these are things I haven’t had to worry about as much recently.

But it doesn’t really go away because you’re not really unpacking it. It becomes another thing on your plate. Me addressing that with maturity and honesty… The way I can be the best person I am to myself, and treat myself the best way I can, that’s what I think a lot of people should do. That’s a really big part of swimming as a concept. Coming from Niagara, it sounds the way it sounds because it was the first time in a long time where I felt like I was untouchable. There was nothing to worry about and I was finally free. It was liberating, so I made an album about it.

But once that little high was over and I started to have more stuff to think about, more business to handle, and other problems, I looked up and realized that the beautiful picture of Niagara Falls is not one that will last forever. Keeping up the feeling of liberation takes effort.

You tackle presentness a lot on this album. Is that something you struggle with?

I’m still at the beginning, right? I didn’t get caught up in the success [of Niagara], because I’m still at the foundation. It’s more about enjoying and being grateful for the things I have while they’re in front of me. It’s been volatile, internally, and I have to learn how to hold on to moments of hope and use them as fuel. I’m getting better at it now, but I know that’s going to take continued effort.

“sky” into “morphine” is some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time. The conviction is crazy. When you’re recording, does that energy pour out of you naturally?

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It’s in me, but naturally I’m soft-spoken. When it comes to the music, that’s a part of the language I’m speaking through the music. With this emotion, it’s tied into the lyrics. It’s just a part of the meaning of the song, of everything. I couldn’t put it out any other way.

Would you say you’re an artist who “blacks out” when they’re creating?

Somewhat, yeah. I don’t have a lot of those moments, because I listen to the music over and over again, but sometimes I go back to a song that I made quickly and left. I come back and, “Woah! This is way cooler than it sounded when I was making it.”

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Are you emotionally prepared for people to receive this vulnerable part of you?

Not only am I prepared, but it’s something I think is necessary. The narrative I’m trying to paint as an artist, of music that connects with people on a deeper level. I have to show [this part of myself]. This album is a good chance to do that.

I didn’t have any rap features besides Fly Anakin—who killed it, by the way. I wanted to use the time to tell people who I am, and where I am right now in my life. I know that’s gonna change.

Does change scare you?

Sometimes. It’s one of those things where it’s a good anxiety. It can get scary when you’re unsure of what’s to come. I guess, thus far in my life, the changes I’ve set myself up for and have experienced have been positive. More recently, at least.

You put out a video earlier this month collecting a series of advice from your fellow artists—Saba, Denzel Curry, Mavi, and others—for turning 18. Which piece of advice really rocked you?

One thing that stuck with me—well, two things. What Rich Brian had to say about gratitude [“Be grateful… because all of this can be taken away from you instantly”]. That was important.

What Saba said about constantly learning, like he’s 27 and still feels 18 in a sense. Learning never ends. That’s how I feel right now. I feel like I have everything to learn. But that feeling may never go away. Gaining acceptance of that might be a whole ‘nother obstacle.

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How do you balance holding onto the good of the past while also being open to the good that’s to come?

The thing is, I’ve worked on music and towards this goal for six years. The past two, stuff has increased and changed pretty quickly. I don’t know if I really, fully understand the impact of what I’m doing yet. I started performing late—because of the pandemic. So I don’t know if I’ve fully understood my impact.

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