Family entertainer SaulPaul released his latest studio recording, Okay To Be Different over the weekend. The seven-song EP is not exactly different from other recordings released this year within the family music realm, but that is not a bad thing in this case. As a matter of fact, it makes it just as enjoyable as its counterparts. The similarities between this record and others in the family music realm are shown in large part through the EP’s lyrical themes, which will be discussed shortly. The musical content featured throughout the EP makes for its own share of interest here. It will be discussed a little later. The songs’ sequencing rounds out the record’s most important content. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Okay To Be Different. All things considered, they make the record deserving of a spot among the best of this year’s new EPs.
SaulPaul’s brand new EP, Okay To Be Different is a strong new offering from the veteran family entertainer. Its appeal comes in large part through its lyrical themes. The themes in question are all positive, uplifting messages. As SaulPaul explained that in his own words in a recent interview, “This album is all about the heart and mindset. My goal is to inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence. If I had to describe each song with one word, I’d list them as Joy. Hope. Heart. Friendship. Energy. Inspiration. Motivation. The basic message is to love yourself and love others.”
The message of self confidence most recently came in the EP’s single, ‘Ace It.’ It encourages listeners to do their best in life and school. He reminds listeners that the best way to do even relatively well in life is by doing their best in school, even pointing out that yes, school should be treated just like a job. This is a message that every parent uses with his/her child(ren) and is thankfully echoed here. So for him to echo that message, it vindicates parents, and hopefully will get young people to finally pay attention and take pride in what they do in school and life.
The message of self confidence is present not just in ‘Ace It,’ but also in ‘Be Myself.’ This song also delivers a message of self confidence and knowing that – as the chorus states – “I can be anything.” He tells young listeners that they need to stand tall when they look in the mirror and knowing they can go a long way, “Like Moana.” That reference to the hugely popular Disney flick will generate its own share of enjoyment. Considering that Moana’s story was also about self confidence and personal growth, it makes the reference a great fit that listeners of all ages will appreciate. The overall message here is just one more way in which the EP’s positive, uplifting lyrical content proves so important.
On yet another note, ‘Just Call’ delivers a message centered on the importance of friendship. The song’s subject tells his friends to “call me/call me/Call/And I’ll be right there/If you need help/You know who to call/’Cause you know the reason why/We’ve been through it all.” The message is direct here. It encourages young listeners to tell their friends that they will be there and ready to help. Yes, people do grow apart over the years, but even as new friendships might form over the years, we should still effort to be there for friends new and/or old alike. This is another great, uplifting message. It is one more example of the importance of the lyrical themes featured throughout SaulPaul’s new EP. When it is considered along with the themes featured in the other noted songs and the rest of the record’s entries, the whole forms a solid starting point for Okay To Be Different.
Building on the foundation formed by the lyrical themes is the musical content featured throughout the EP. Between SaulPaul‘s mumble rap approach here, the voice modulation that is so common in so much rap, hip-hop, and pop, the musical content featured here holds its own against anything from SaulPaul’s more well-known mainstream counterparts. The steady beats and the keyboards add their own touch to the appeal of the EP’s overall musical content, too. The use of the marching snare drums in ‘Champions’ is another subtle, but welcome touch that shows the appeal of the record’s musical content. On yet another note, the more pop style approach and sound presented in ‘Call Me’ stands on its own merits. It really stands on its own merits alongside the EP’s other arrangements. All things considered, the musical content featured throughout OK To Be Different widens the EP’s appeal because it will appeal not just to children, but to grown-ups, too. The appeal of that content and the lyrical themes (many of which will resonate with adults just as much as children) makes this EP even more engaging and entertaining. It still is just a portion of what makes the EP stand out. The songs’ sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of Okay To Be Different is important because of the sense of relaxation and ease that it ensures among listeners. As already noted, the arrangements featured throughout the record are generally rap and hip-hop style compositions. However, a close listen reveals that even despite that, the sounds and general approaches to each arrangement are different from one to the next. ‘Best Day Ever’ for instance mixes a guitar line with the noted hip-hop approach for a whole that is infectious throughout its two-and-a-half-minute run time. ‘Be Myself,’ which immediately follows, is more a pure rap type work. The mumble rap approach here will appeal to fans of that rap subgenre that has become so popular in recent years. ‘Live and Learn (ft. Candy Coburn)’ is another more pop/hip-hop hybrid. That is obvious in the pairing of SaulPaul’s flow and the guitar. To a point, one can almost make a comparison here to works from Flipsyde. The pop approach continues in ‘Just Call’ before returning to a more pure rap/hip-hop vibe in the EP’s last three songs. Looking back at all of this, the short and simple is that the EP’s sequencing keeps things interesting by switching up the sounds and approaches to each song all while keeping the overall vibe relaxed and positive from song to song. When the positive impact of this element is considered with the equally positive impact of the record’s musical and lyrical content in general, the overall impact is that it collectively makes Okay To Be Different a presentation that is far more than OK.
SaulPaul’s brand new EP Okay To Be Different is a positive new offering from the veteran performer/rapper/songwriter. It offers plenty for listeners of all ages to appreciate. That is proven in part through its lyrical content. The lyrical themes featured in this record are positive, uplifting messages that are just as important and relevant for adults as they are for SaulPaul’s younger audiences. They are messages of friendship, self-confidence and hard work (and its payoff). The musical arrangements featured throughout the nearly 20-minute record (19 minutes, 50 seconds to be exact), will appeal just as much to adults as to younger listeners if not more so. Much of the EP’s musical content holds its own well against arrangements from SaulPaul’s counterparts within the mainstream rap, hip-hop, and pop communities. Staying on that topic, the manner in which the arrangements (and lyrical themes) were spread across the EP shows the importance of its sequencing. It ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment in its own right. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make OK To Be Different far more than OK. Okay To Be Different is available now.
More information on SaulPaul’s upcoming virtual graduation ceremony, his new single, video, and EP is available along with all of his latest news at:
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