by Mike Scarfo
As human beings, we talk to ourselves constantly whether we realize it or not. Positive self-talk is imperative when it comes to intrinsic motivation and encouragement, yet our minds can encompass negativity and doubt that can be equally as damaging. Often it’s our own conscious holding us back more than anything else, especially once we allow those repressive thoughts to enter our psyche. Hence why the classic sentiment of “being our own worst enemy” is all too applicable in today’s social climate. Marcel Stephon explores the concept of self-talk on new genre-blending single “That’s All” as he airs out his thoughts from multiple perspectives, subsequently resulting in his most introspective song to date.
The Gardner, MA-based hip-hop artist juxtaposes his aspirations with his insecurities on “That’s All”, as he contemplates dreams of being a full-time musician. Marcel candidly conveys imagery of luxurious cars, voluptuous women, and expensive liquor throughout the verses of the song: his melodic, nonchalant delivery highlighting society’s portrayal of fame.
However, the hook of “That’s All” shifts the song’s mood completely, creating contrast through emphatic double-time flows and honest lyricism. Marcel details feelings of pressure and anguish in a relatable way that ultimately becomes a reflection of his own self-worth. For example, the plain language of “I’m just tryna make it that’s all” appears simplistic on the surface, but its constant repetition emphasizes the urgency for Marcel to manifest his own version of success, even if it costs the “state of [his] health”.
The hook essentially represents Marcel’s attempt to “keep it real” with himself while recognizing the difficulty of doing so, as he simultaneously portrays his own battles with faith and even suicidal thoughts. The religious reference of “looking for a cross just to nail myself” is controversially chilling, while the stubbornness of “don’t nobody need to see me, I can play like stealth” acts as a defense mechanism to prevent others from harming or taking advantage of him. The blunt irony, of course, is that Marcel realizes he is the only one who can truly keep him from reaching notoriety and success, all the while questioning the long-term satisfaction he’ll gain from it. But the idea of staying complacent in the current state of his life is not fulfilling either, which forces him to continue craving the “mansions, McLarens, and Bentleys” that come along with widespread fame.
The instrumentation on “That’s All” glaringly stands out amongst the rest of Marcel’s catalog: an almost folk-sounding acoustic guitar loop syncs beautifully with subtle drums and hi-hats. The aesthetic is raw and emotional, perfectly conveying the mood and overall message embedded within Marcel’s lyrical delivery. In essence, the production of “That’s All” sees Marcel getting out of his comfort zone, which coincidentally is a theme he outlines in his bars.
“That’s All” is a song that is widely accessible to its audience through thought-provoking content and catchy melodies. Marcel’s realization of self-confidence and honesty, along with its sonic appeal, makes “That’s All” a huge step forward in his musical journey.
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Artwork done by Urban Corey: