Timeless artists actively evolve. Progression defines the careers of everyone from The Beatles and Michael Jackson to Beyoncé. The name might be the same, but the music grows at each turn. Prince Charlez continues that tradition on his aptly titled 2017 debut EP Evolution (Republic Records).
“I’m changing,” explains the singer, songwriter, and producer. “I’m growing and learning to articulate how I really feel. The more I write, the more I’m able to do that. These songs represent my evolution and how I’m changing. This is where I’m at now. This is what came to me. It’s about being honest.”
That honest artistry turned the Compton, CA native into one of the music industry’s hottest songwriters. Born and raised in the rough capital of West Coast hip-hop, he found salvation in a music at a young age, performing in a youth group organized by none other than R&B icon Brandy. RedOne personally called on him to pen a song for Usher during 2010, and it kick-started an unbelievable career. To date, he has crafted hits for everyone from Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Kendrick Lamar to T.I., Kehlani, and Mary J. Blige. 2016 saw him emerge as an equally impactful artist in his own right on the Drumma Boy-produced mixtape Black And Gold.
Now, the six tracks comprising Evolution showcase his dynamic depth. Recorded in studios across Los Angeles and Miami, these six songs hover over shadowy R&B soundscapes before snapping into blockbuster pop hooks. With his show-stopping falsetto and impressive songcraft, the single “Back Around” paved the way for the project’s arrival.
“In the song, I’m trying to talk to God and ask for help,” he admits. “I always freestyle everything. This time, I was just crying out for guidance. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. It was this period of self-discovery. It’s relatable as everybody goes through those moments where we’re far from grace. You deal with a lot of aggression. I just hoped everything would work out. I feel like people can take a lot from it.”
The title track “Evolution” encourages similar self-discovery. Elsewhere, he boldly makes a political statement with the poignant and powerful “Tear It Down”—“sparked from the travel ban.” The raw second single “Can I” cuts to the core with another passionate performance, while “Make It Work” channels a vintage vibe complemented perfectly by “Cognac and a cigar,” as he puts it.
“There’s a lot going on in there,” explains Charlez. “I would love for people to think about the lyrics. You can apply much of this to your life. When they’re listening, I hope they feel. If they can’t feel how I feel, I want them to be entertained. Listeners can really see my personal thoughts on this project. They can hear my voice and get to know me. I want to make a mark with it.”
As long as he continues to evolve, Charlez will undoubtedly make that mark.
“I’m still finding out who I am,” he leaves off. “I just want to create music, perform and take care of my family. I don’t do anything else but music. It’s my life. It’s my outlet. I’ll never run out of topics or vibes. I’m not afraid to change or evolve. That’s how you leave a mark. I’m not going to get too comfortable.”