The Raw Emotion of Praise’s 'poppa' [EP Review]

Preston Breck

It isn’t very often that a song can evoke extreme emotion off of a short snippet on social media, but when it does happen it creates a moment that everyone needs to pay attention to. This is exactly what has happened to praise. The North Carolina-based artist and filmmaker has been making a lot of noise the past few weeks on TikTok through teasing the beautiful, meditative track “you still wear my clothes.”  With a unique, open, and honest sound, and a creative visual approach, praise. has drawn a ton of attention from ibreathemusicallday and others with only a few songs out. Now, praise. is here with his debut EP poppa., a brief yet powerful reflection on love, truth, and self-worth.

The EP starts with “it’s august already.”, a somber, piano-backed intro that displays praise. singing in a pitched-down, pained voice of regret and confusion. The track details the passage of time, contempt for a relationship, and a feeling of not knowing where things are in life. “hills.” is another beautifully open and honest track. Starting with a delicate guitar, the song builds emotion with drums and the repetition of powerful phrases like “if you leave right now then you’re dead to me.” It is clear that a lot of poppa. deals with the pains and struggles of a failing relationship, and “hills.” holds nothing back with detailing praise’s mindset and raw reaction to the situation he finds himself in. 

“you still wear my clothes.” sounds exactly like the warm, vibrant, yet peaceful snippet that took TikTok by storm this month. The song features praise. detailing his mindset after a relationship as he dives in and out of pitched-up vocals over a beautifully scarce guitar instrumental. Lyrics like “that’s my favorite hoodie, does it remind you of where I should be” hit hard, adding an element of relatability to listeners who’ve been through similar struggles in love. The track is a simple, yet brutally emotional way to end an excellent project. With more on the way, praise. is already a must-watch artist of the rest of this year.

I got to speak with praise. about poppa. and how it came to be. He ended up going track-by-track, explaining what each song means to him and how they were created:

With the intro, “it’s august already.,” you can really hear where I was at making it. It sounds like I’m in a battle with myself, a battle of overthinking. I pitched my vocals down to represent my thoughts, deeper than who I am as a person. When shits scary, you think about your career and you have to remind yourself to not play yourself. In that space of just thoughts, just going, there’s a real artistry of having to put something on the back end just to achieve your goals. Going into your room, listening to beats, freestyling, and being vulnerable with myself. This song is my representation of that battle.

The second song, “spend the night,” isn’t on streaming since Chase Shakur used the beat while I was making it. This is the song you play for the girl, a representation of that three week phase where nothing can go wrong. I wanted to capture what it’s like to be in a relationship feeling like you’re the only two people on Earth, and I wanted the visuals to reiterate that feeling.

I wrote “hills” in the last three months of last year when I was really going through it with a girl. Words mean a lot to me in a relationship, and if you promise to me that you’re gonna make something work, that shit should never change. I’m a very specific person, so I didn’t hold back in the song. My dad is like my music partner, and hearing that shit with him, we were like we gotta put this out.

The last song, “you still wear my clothes,” is the one blowing up right now, and rightfully so. I had the beat for it and freestyled that shit six times, not writing anything down. I was mentally drained, vulnerable, everything I was going through had a voice. The repetitiveness of “you still wear my clothes” is on purpose. Every bar is on purpose, super specific, super potent, super different.

It took six to eight months to finish the project. It feels like closure releasing it, this is me closing the book of where I was at. I had to say to that person: “I sat back, heard and watched everything you’ve done to me, and it’s my turn to say everything I felt about that. I’m done”. It’s a very healing experience

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