“I wanna be the voice of reason that can hopefully bridge all that chaos for the person that just doesn’t, is not down with church, not down with any of that organized religion, any of that. They’re just, they’re just out here and they believe that God is real, but they have these terrible examples of who God is and their father maybe failed them. They got anger towards authority. It’s just, it’s reality, bro and I think a lot of us are too scared to talk about it sometimes. But I’m not gonna shy away from it anymore.”- John Givez
John Givens, better known as just John Givez and Juan Dando, is an American hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul musician. So far Givez has released two studio albums, Four Seasons in 2013, and Soul Rebel in 2015. Both albums charted in the Billboard magazines. Four Seasons made number 46 on the Gospel Albums chart, and Soul Rebel, made number 7 on the Christian Albums chart, number 19 on the Independent Albums Chart, and number 10 on the Rap Albums chart. Gives music career started in 2013 and his first album was quickly released under Kings Dream Entertainment. His first album, Four Seasons, was when Gives encountered his music break through.
Givez music is very challenging. He stays very true to his roots and does not speak of anything more or less than the truth. The truth that he speaks gets as clear as it is. Giving you a little of his story, Givez grew up in a not so good neighborhood and knows everything about the violence that goes on. He has witnessed many of his peers do down the route of having a “gangbanging lifestyle, prostitution, cutting, and alcoholism.” Deeply being hurt by all that was going on around him, Givez knew that there had to be a change. His music is his personal platform where he is able to “encourage and inspire” people. Givez has a lot to say, and his music has some very powerful messages behind it. His last album will leave you mind blown. About it, he said, “this album, I’m not taking it easy. I can’t. It’s too real out here.
Elementary Trill was the first singles released for Givez’s album, Soul Rebel. In this song, Givez looks back on his childhood days in elementary school and thoughts as a child. The song opens up with:
“Elementary Trill. Will I ever have to eat a penitentiary meal? Will I die young, buried in the earth six feet. Or will I listen to my daddy?”
Here, Givez is asking himself if he would be eating meals in jail or die because those are questions that every young boy asks themselves as they grow up in his head. Listening to his father would mean he would have to be a good boy and stay out of all possible trouble.
“Daddy never raised me up to call myself a nigga
Prolly picked that up in elementary I figure
Older kids are asking is you bloods or is you crip’n
Man I’m in the fourth grade, I go to school to pay attention
Cause my family is faithfully some baptist church goers
1524 Lemon St that be the corner
That I caught my first fade wit a peewee in the ally
And lost my first fade dawg my chin was leakin’ badly
Older brother left and I’m the youngest child of three
Third time is a charm that means the chosen child is me
Papa was a firm believer in the usage of a belt
Hard head make a soft behind, I used to stay with welps
Come to school like, wish I’d tell a teacher how I got this
That was not an option mama workin’ in the office
Often time I reminisce on elementary years
Go to school and act a fool, elementary trill, wassup”
As a child, Givez was negatively influenced by children who were older them him. Introducing him to what a gangster lifestyle was. His father was teaching him how to respect himself, despite Givez having so many negative influences around him. He did not try focusing on any of that, though. Gives came from a very religious family and his father was a preacher at a Baptist church. At a young age, Givez was introduced to a church and who God was. When Givez got into his first fight, he lost. He talks about how he would always get in trouble and how his father would correct him. He was whipped with a belt, but he would not dare let his teachers find out about it. Those were his memories of elementary school.
“Hell was lurkin’ in my home
At age seven knew I wanted to be in heaven with the Lord
Daddy was a preacher man, he lost his mind due to war
And who’ve thought we’d see the consequences of a desert storm
Mamma schedule was on, we left the school and hit the K-Mart
She had a second job, God blessed her with a brave heart
Struggle was just a part, trouble was at a dark
Seen my first home invasion chillin’ at the skate park
Street light come on that mean we had to hurry home but
I was just a curious so privy to live soul
Stayed and watch the trill unfold, police
Screamin’ hit the floor, seen
Five black brothas get up, hop the chief slow
Could I sleep no, layed up in my bed that night trippen’
Knowin’ I should get some sleep, turn on TV with no permission now
But that was elementary years
Know the rule but played a fool, elementary trill, wassup”
Growing up, everything was not perfect in Givez’s home. He describes it as “hell” and knew as a child that he wanted to be in heaven with God. His father was in a war and even though he is a preacher, He suffers from PTSD. His mom had a hard time trying to help his father and try to keep the house together at the same time. When the streetlights came on, it was a sign that everyone had to be indoors. In urban areas, more gang violence and crimes happened at night. All children had to be inside by that time for their own safety. Givez was always curious as to what happened out there at the times he had to go on. He witnessed five black males turn on the police and what he saw did not do anything but trouble him. At times that he should be sleeping. Givez would watch things on television that he knew his parents would disapprove of. Even in elementary school, Gavez was aware of the reality of life and the hardships of what it was like living in the streets.
“I was just an innocent soul, I was just an innocent soul
In elementary, I was just an innocent soul
I was just an innocent soul”
In elementary school, Givez says that he was just an innocent soul.” Some of his troubles just happened because he was young.
Elementary Trill just exemplifies how real that Gives music gets. He doesn’t play around. Listen more of what he has to say in his album, Soul Rebel.