Ground-breaking alternative artist, Sam Austins, has just dropped his debut mixtape HOMELESS STAR. Through the album, Austin takes the listener through an intimate journey on the conflicting beauty of what it means to grow up. With 10 tracks, there is a collective dreamscape quality with lo fi beats and soft vocals that are emotionally raw. 

The first track of the mixtape, “Kilos,” was released prior as a single. There is immediately a vibrating beat that courses through as it establishes a cool, vibey ambiance. And yet the Detroit-native carries a deep weight with the lyrics. They represent the transitory phase between youth and adulthood, and how it can be a jarring, traumatic experience. This was the track Ausitns chose to introduce himself to the world with as he openly expresses the struggles he faced growing up on the west side of Detroit. Drawing from his experiences Austins notes, 

“Everything is basically dangerous. Those aren’t fireworks; those are gunshots. I was running around the city with my friends. At any moment, something could happen…”

This dark metaphor continues to flow through its aesthetically avant-garde music video as Austins meets a Danny Darko-esque money on a summer night. 

“Mind on Drugs” is a track that evokes a sense of chaotic energy with the picking of the bassline and Austins jumpy rapping. It includes samples from Beck & Chick Corea. The vibrating moans and breathy “Ay/Ay/Ay/Ha/Ha/Ha” elevate this paranoiac sense of losing control. The track becomes increasing intense as the need becomes all-consuming. The lyrics “Your mind on drugs/Burns likes the sun and hurts like a gun,” reveal that the need is undesirable, but sometimes that pain is what depresses another type of pain. It’s an escape where you can quickly fall in too deep. The eccentric production is a jumble that expresses the overwhelming whirlwind of emotions and thoughts of when your mind is on drugs. 

The eclectic nature of Austins shines through in the track and paired video “Drifting Away.” The pounding of the drumline encourages your heart to beat alongside it as Austins energetically releases, “I feel myself drifting away” and ‘I’ll take my time” over and over again. The visualizer matches the vibrancy of the track as Austins delivers a performance that showcases his synchronous blend of various musical and personal styles.

Through tracks like “Youngblood” and “Be Honest,” Austins takes it down a notch with a somber melancholy. They both capture the strain and desperation of realizing life isn’t what you hoped it would be. In “Youngblood,” Austins slow tempo rapping, expresses the draining feeling of being trapped in a hopeless situation and that “all I know is I don’t wanna be in the world all alone.”  

“Joy for Youth,” is the only track on the album to feature another artist as Austins is joined by Sir Chloe on this upbeat anthem. The intro holds a lullaby sounding piano that establishes a sense of  innocent childhood. It then kicks into a techno pop tune as Austins holds on to the hope for the future that only those with youth still have. The lyrics “I feel joy for youth/We’ll turn out fine/I’ve never felt better,” showcase the free, fun-loving spirit of the endless possibilities of being fresh in the world. The music video captures the dream-like world with a soft, hazy color palette and nostalgic snapshots of kids just getting loose and having fun. 

Austins ends the project with the hyper-personal ballad “Homeless.” This is where a star is born as the isolated, soft strums of the guitar and Austins gentle, dreamlike vocals create an intimate ambiance to take you on the story of his life. It’s one of resilience and never losing sight of the light, despite how dark it all may seem. He asks, “Who can save me” and while his aunt lovingly took him in, “Sometimes you’ve got to let it go.” It’s a fitting way to end the project as Austins reveals the specifics of his lonely and sometimes hopeless journey on becoming a star. Just like stars during the day, Austins has had to leave parts of his life, but with this project he has made a return, shining a bright light on the dark night of his past.  

Austins doesn’t hide the struggles he faced, rather he has proudly channeled those experiences into creating a truly artistic album that defies the perception of the alt genre. HOMELESS STAR has broken into a new territory that is tragically beautiful and beautifully tragic. Austins is a rare artist who has forged a path in the music industry that is completely his own. While he draws from the influences of indie rock, alt/soft pop and old-school R&B, the characteristics he has sampled, have all been delicately paired into something completely original.  

Austins mixtape is available on all major streaming patterns, and it is one that should be experienced. It takes the listener on to a melancholic dreamscape where Austins is the star in the night guiding you through. HOMELESS STAR is a ground-breaking presentation on a modern eccentric style and a new star in the world of music who is just going to continue to shine brighter and brighter. 

Jessie is currently a student at Stephens College getting her MFA in Screen and Tv Writing. Working full time, going to school and managing a small business music is truly the only thing that keeps her sane.
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Jessie is currently a student at Stephens College getting her MFA in Screen and Tv Writing. Working full time, going to school and managing a small business music is truly the only thing that keeps her sane.

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