To be brief is considered in some circles to be polite. You make your entrance, say what needs to be said, and then hastily make an exit. The benefits are twofold: no one likes their time being taken up more than absolutely necessary, and no one likes to be perceived as uncourteous either. The risk is that being brief could also be interpreted as not having much to say at all. You’re brief because you lack substance, not because of civility. And if you have nothing to say, why say anything at all?
The art of the EP is not just in enticing listeners and teasing a full-length project, but also in justifying those 12 to 15 minutes of their attention. You aim to make an indelible impression in a small window, enough to make them continue seeking you out. That’s what Puerto Rican rapper Stz Poetic intends with Aries Rising, his brand-new EP with a thematic lean that suggests the re-arrival of a persona he’d previously only just scratched the surface of. A product of growing up a follower of Nas, Tupac, and Tego Calderón, Stz (pronounced “stizz”) has previously held his own rapping in English but opts for a homegrown affectation this time around.
For Stz, real name Steven Rodríguez, the key to the authenticity of his lyrics is linked to his holistic approach to sound. “Music was always there for me in my worst moments, listening to it or writing it, and I want to have that same impact on people who listen to me,” he tells Remezcla.
On the heels of another record released earlier this year—Katarsis alongside longtime collaborator Francis Mxs—Aries is a brash mix of sounds with varying shades from gritty hip-hop to drill. Trap fiends get their fix with “222,” in which Stz and rap hustle colleague Tommy Blanco channel that distinctive ATL vibe into a fiery earworm that’ll make you mean mug even if Spanish isn’t your first language. It’s with the fourth track, “Noctámbulo,” where you can start to see Stz show signs of breaking through to the fans and tastemakers that crown stars. Uplifted by savvy production courtesy of Fly Twilightzone, the song is a goth trap/dancehall mashup that sounds bewildering on paper but once heard is irresistibly danceable.
The album also arrives under the banner of collective Culto 888, of which Stz is a founder and which he hopes grows alongside his career. “I want to give new artists a space where they feel they can be completely creative and free with their art, and develop their vision,” he says of the group that includes music producers, photographers, and graphic artists.
Aries Rising is brief, but it succeeds at everything it wants to say. If you can’t hear the sound of a star being born, then you’re not listening.
Check out Aries Rising below.