Historically, Columbus’ music scene has honed a lengthy spectrum of artists who blur the perception of the “ideal” artist. And with Tieran Cline present, its only broadened the image and sound of Columbus hip-hop.
He’s unapologetically white, but that’s not what separates him as a creative -— nor should it. Instead, it’s his decision to pursue rap stardom by night, while balancing his life as a civil engineer by day.
On Never Had a Choice, Tieran confronts the duality he’s battled in his adulthood; the balance between his profession and passion. He’s struggled nourishing his desire to live out his dreams as a rap star, while working to provide financial stability and mental elation. But rather than submit to other’s expectations, Tieran chooses to embrace his aspirations to become – in his words – the “white Jay-Z.”
On “Can I Live,” Tieran notes his hatred for the nine-to-five, pedestrian lifestyle his peers have pursued. Instead, Tieran wants to indulge in his passion and live the life he’s envisioned. “I’m The Man” illustrates his desired life as an artist, one that revolves around women, money, notoriety and everything else that’s linked to musical stardom.
Though he’s remained vigilante in his pursuit to obtain musical success, Tieran admits he’s endured self-doubt and depression. On the closer, “Never Had a Choice,“ he details how these issues have affected his life, as he’s relied on his family and music to keep him grounded. “I’m just doing what I f***ing got to do just to keep me out of therapy/I have no problem discussing depression/I’ve kept in that shit/ Don’t embarrass me/I let the music take care of me when all my thoughts start scaring me.”
Tieran’s story is ultimately what carries Never Had a Choice. Throughout the EP, he reflects on his rise as a white, Lancaster-raised rap artist. Tieran encapsulates his life through the perspective of a man that’s settled in middle-class America, but one who’s passion outweighs other’s expectations. This is his journey and, in his mind, he’s never had a choice.
However, despite Tieran’s lyrical and storytelling ability, the EP suffers from mediocre instrumentation and, at times, unoriginality. Lyrically, Tieran’s abilities match or eclipse many artists in the city. But songs like “I’m The Man” and “Never Had a Choice” suffer from a reliance on repetitive lyrics and rhythmic patterns that other artists emulate.
Though the project isn’t glamorous sonically, it’s cohesive and encompasses substance-filled content. In the end, Never Had a Choice is a solid and enjoyable project.