SEPTIMIUS

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Septimius is a dance artist based out of Maryland who recently recorded and released his latest album “To Be Emperor”. Septmius produced all four of the music videos that accompanied this album, has been featured on multiple television and radio programs, and has won awards for his creative work both domestically and abroad. Enjoy our review of “To Be Emperor” along with an interview with the artist below.

‘I Am Fashion’ opens “To Be Emperor” with a dance beat and strong synth. Septimius’ vocal style is spoken, not sung or rapped, and on this track he spends his time name-dropping different fashion brands throughout the song. Musically, not much is going on, and the production is very basic. ‘Command U 2 Dance’ is big and in-your-face from the beginning; the song is large and beat-based until everything fades out, making way for a vocal highlight section supported by a synth. This track is very commanding and instructive and contains lots of different voices; Septimius’ voice in particular is monotone, registers between the lower and medium octaves, and is more spoken word than rap (less vocal inflection and emotion). This track has lots of strong points and would work well in clubs and similar locations; the sung sections are the song highlights, and the synth lead at 2:40 is captivating. The song overall features lots of breaks and lot of changes, and thankfully nothing seems stagnant or overdone. I’d like to hear more singing, further instrumentation, and other intricate production tricks to add to the overall presentation of the song. ‘Exotic Pleasure’ has more of a Middle Eastern flavor, with other languages and cultures mixed with in with the dance feel. The track is descriptive visually and is sensual in nature, the story line graphic and easy to follow. Good, interesting production techniques are put on display here, and the instrumentation is excellent, especially the overtly foreign influence. Some rhymes are excellent, some are cliche, and some lack rhythm, so vocally, the track is a bit of a mixed bag. Female vocals are employed in the hook and chorus sections of the track, readying listeners for ‘Who’s the Sexiest’, which follows with a rock vibe, strong verses and auto tuned backing vocals. The recording quality is much lower than that of previous tracks and is highly compressed, but the backing instrumentation, especially the synth parts in the verses, was excellent.  

‘When In Rome’ is more ambient, containing a female opera vocal performance overtop the opening hook. The lyricism is elementary at times, and the instrumentation is very basic. Low-end movement pushes the song’s energy, the chorus being one of the bright spots of this song. The last chorus is different lyrically, precluded by an a cappella performance supported by piano. Shortly thereafter, the female opera vocals are back, highlighted against a running melody line and far-out instrumental sounds. ‘Can I’ is synth-led with a different feel; this track features rapped sections, as opposed to the previous spoken word passages heard on previous tracks. ‘Can I’ has a strong chorus and is certainly one of the stronger tracks on the record overall. The verses are impressive, and the rhymes are better than past offerings. As on much of the album, this track is sexual and very descriptive, the lyrics coupled with intriguing backing instruments and percussion which were unfortunately tough to hear over blaring synths. ‘Who Is Septimius’ introduces Septimius’ grandiose, haughty character (a little late, in my opinion), the narrator making a commanding announcement over bells. ‘To Be Emperor’ then follows, another short track, this time led by soaring female vocals that cascade overtop chanting and applause. ‘Paradise’, the third short track, has an Eastern, otherworldly vibe, enhanced by Asian/Eastern instruments and an outstanding vocal melody. ‘Zodiac Lover’ is a deep, powerful, enchanting track which describes Septimius’ desire to meet with different signs of the Zodiac. A haunting, captivating introduction showcases a low-end foundation and intelligent concepts. ‘Let’s Travel’ closes the album with a four on the floor beat and a chopped, staccato vocal feel. The hook is basic, containing only one word, but the melody is memorable. Again, Septimius does a lot of name-dropping, this track in particular featuring a list of the places he’d like to visit. It also features different styles of percussion, including strategic placement of steel drums in the tropical-sounding section and then hand drums in the more African-sounding section. In summary, many of these tracks are too basic and feature mixing and production techniques that aren’t necessarily executed to par with similar musical compositions. Many of the tracks feature intelligent concepts that needed to be executed on a higher level all around (lyrically, rhythmically, and musically). Improved vocal presentation, a better sense of timing and rhythm (vocally), and added instrumentation would help to further develop his own sound and overall skill set. While Septimius’ overall sound is unique, the sounds contained within these tracks are much more cliche: I’d be thrilled to hear what new theatrical, moving ideas Septimius could come up with under the direction of different producers who value originality and creativity. Be sure to check out album highlights ‘Can I’, ‘Command U 2 Dance’, and ‘Exotic Pleasure’.

Could you tell us about your background, and what led you to begin recording and releasing music?

“Music was never a main focus of mine. I grew up in a musical family with connections to Ashford & Simpson, Sisqo from Dru Hill, and Johnny Simms but never had the interest to pursue (music). I have always been in the arts & entertainment world via fashion and event planning , so I already had a small network of people to call on. In June 2010 after a bad breakup, I decided to focus my energy into music and explore the possibilities. I went out on a limb to find the resources and team to make a song titled ‘I Am Fashion’; I found that I enjoyed my first studio recording and assistance in songwriting and the list of songs started from there.”

You’ve performed all over the world, correct? What have been some of your most exciting live experiences?

“Yes. My favorite and best experience thus far was at the Barbados Music Awards. I had the chance to perform on a high-tech stage, to a massive audience which included the mother of Whitney Houston (Cissy Houston); she is now a fan of my music and performance.”

What has it been like working with female artists such as Lil Kim, Fantasia, and Crystal Waters?

“Performing on the same stage as these ladies has opened my eyes to another level of entertainment, business, and people. I enjoyed learning about their real lives versus their stage lives, and I was able to witness the life and musicality of three different genres of music.”

What life experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your album “To Be Emperor”?

“My album (“To Be Emperor”) is an entertaining yet educational CD. Having an interest in fashion, culture and history, I set out to tell the story of Septimius Severus (the first African Roman Emperor) while at the same time fusing multiple genres (opera, rock, hip-hop, house, and R&B) together. I was always intrigued by legacies, so when I was looking for a name for my music brand, I looked for something that no one hardly knew. Septimius had a reputation of being a successful warrior, and in each song there is a tid-bit about the original Septimius and his journey as a Roman Emperor. I combined my experiences as a model into my style and lyrics, keeping the tempo fast-paced because of my love for house/dance music. Being that an emperor is the ruler of many territories and ethnic groups, I tried to fuse different sounds, styles and languages in a full musical story while mixing old and new world together.”

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