Urban X Entertainment
Meet Rufus, a new Waterloo-based artist who is taking Canada by storm with a fresh take on the classic R&B sound.
His debut EP Growing Pains was released in the fall of 2012 and is a sort of musical autobiography that takes the listener through Rufus’s life so far, and the growing pains he experienced along the way.
The first track, “What We Have,” features a peppy drumbeat, soulful harmonies, and cheesy lyrics such as “what we have is truly really real.”
The title track, “Growing Pains,” is the only track on the EP that isn’t about a romantic relationship — it is a relatable anthem that talks about the pain of growing up, and finding the light at the end of a dark tunnel. The drumbeat is heavier, and the back-up singers are reminiscent of Rufus’s church gospel days. At the beginning the vocals are a little light and are overshadowed by heavy instrumentation, but as the song progresses the vocal melody regains control.
“Joy” features a lot of synthetic snapping and emphasizes the cheesy lyrics with what sounds like Garage Band supplied harp.
“Got 2B Real” is rather repetitive lyrically, but the beat is catchy, and the acoustic guitar works surprisingly well with the synth. Although the lyrics are repetitive, the song does have a great moment vocally where the listener gets to experience a different and impressive sound from Rufus at 2:19.
The rap piece from featured artist Justis is refreshing, and brings some more life to what would otherwise be an excruciatingly repetitive piece.
The last track, and my personal favourite, “My Love,” has a different feel when compared to the rest of the EP. It features Scarz & Klue and borders on the more hip-hop side of the album. Rufus’s yearning lyrics are well contrasted by solid rap pieces and appropriately punchy synth. “My Love” ends the album on a high note.
At face value the EP seems to have good variety, but every track features a simple drum beat with a catchy synth part layered overtop. The EP also features instruments such as the guitar, the harp, maracas, and even a little bit of snapping, all of which tend to sound sporadic and synthetic. Though the music is clearly written with skill and care, one gets a bit of a homegrown Garage Band sound, which to be fair, is simply a matter of limited resources.
That being said, for a self-written debut album, Rufus does reasonably well — Growing Pains is a fairly solid debut. With simple yet catchy beats and cheesy but relatable lyrics, the album makes for easy listening and the EP contains some solid R&B that was clearly written with care. Though Rufus still has a long way to go, he has made a substantial beginning, and Growing Pains deserves to be recognized for what it is: an estimable first step.