Historically, Columbus’ music scene has possessed a lengthy spectrum of artists who blur the perception of a linear sound, as they’ve integrated an array of musical influences. And with artists like Tieran Cline present, its only broadened the imagery of Columbus hip-hop. He’s unapologetic about being a white rap artist, but that’s not what separates him as a creative. 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 submitting 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 9-5, 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 lifestyle as an artist, one that revolves around women, money, notoriety and everything else that’s attributed to rap 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. Yes, we’ve heard this story in hip-hop before. Regardless, 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; 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 such as “I’m The Man” and “Never Had a Choice” suffer from an overreliance on repetitive lyrics and rhythmic patterns that other artists emulate. Though the project isn’t glamorous sonically, it encompasses cohesive and substance-filled content. In the end, Never Had a Choice is a solid and enjoyable project.