The evolution of the musician can be just as important as the cadence they create. The journey that ignites these rhythms can become a wave that is forever ridden, gaining momentum, without ever breaking or rolling back. 

Combining a matured sense of self with fierce emotional honesty, local hip-hop artist Kurtis Rideout, AKA STEVEDAVE, is set to release his second album, Poubelle Blanche, on Jan. 26.

The 23-year-old Drumbo-bred writer, Laurier grad, and self-taught producer acknowledged that his refined rhetoric and laid back approach on his new “mixtape” was evidence of a burgeoning identity coupled with a more organic lyrical process, something that didn’t necessarily require witty wordplay or explicit humour this time around.

“With my new music, I let it breathe a lot more,” Rideout said. “I wanted to make a song that creates an emotion, and an album that conveys that same kind of vibe.”

Rideout’s first album, released last February, was a marriage of over 20 “sprawling” songs that stem from his days of merging as many metaphors and similes as possible into a song, while “rapping 60 bars straight.” Many of the songs were written when Rideout was 15, then recorded at 17, and finally released last year. 

Now, in an attempt to expand on and perhaps transcend classical hip-hop and witty pop culture wordplay (one of Rideout’s early lyrics weaved A Clockwork Orange director Stanley Kubrick’s name with Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee in a rhyme — “Stan Lee Kubrick”), Rideout has recognized the power of new-wave hip-hop and started paying attention to pop lyricism and more viable song structure. 

Aligning with new-wave hip-hop, many Poubelle Blanche (translation: White Trash) verses have increased tempos while the choruses are broken down to spread the beat out, something Rideout proclaims to be more of a “cloudy and ethereal” feel. 

“That was the number one thing that led to more of a pop-structure feel,” said Rideout. 

Lyrically, Rideout also challenges the hetero-patriarchal-bravado appeal of mainstream hip-hop. Refusing to embrace the narrow minded, yet omnipresent guns/tattoos/drugs rhetoric, Rideout has made a conscious effort to go further and also reject arbitrary swearing and boasting, which he admits can make it tougher to connect to an audience when inclusion steps up to take bigotry’s place.

While Rideout’s awareness was no doubt inherent, he was grateful to be immersed in a culturally progressive city like Waterloo when the time came to run Laurier’s student newspaper, The Cord, where he was editor-in-chief for the mandated one year. He was also welcomed with open arms in the KW hardcore scene when he released his first album last year, and played a few punk-rap-metal hybrid shows where he revamped one of his hip-hop tunes.  

Rideout has always had punk in his blood, especially during his time in Drumbo. Admitting that his family has always been supportive and empowering, Rideout originally found his musical roots in punk music with bands like The Cure and Iggy Pop, as well as later punk rock like Nirvana. By the age of 14, he was spending hours per day playing music with his friends. 

“It was punk because we couldn’t play anything else,” said Rideout. “You have to make good use of your time.”

With a special affinity for Nirvana, Rideout developed a distant but tangible bond with Kurt Cobain, coincidentally sharing a name and the customary long hair of the era. Conversely, Rideout admits no one can imitate Cobain’s voice. 

“I’ll never have that enthusiasm in my voice. I feel like I’ve very much developed this not-trying ethos,” said Rideout. “It felt intentional for a long time, but now it just feels really natural.”

Kurtis Rideout is the distribution manager for the Community Edition and occasional writer.