With the release of his dynamic single “Safe” last month, Jack Teitelbaum ’24 made his debut in Kenyon’s ever-growing music scene. A personal response to the wave of breakups incited by the pandemic, “Safe” combines driven rap verses with a rhythmically engaging instrumental for a genre-bending sound.
The song follows the tumultuous, final stages of a relationship, integrating themes of distrust, confusion, closure and introspection. The hook rides on the lyrics, “Lock it in the safe and then I throw the key away / You say that but I’m never really sure / Things I can’t ignore, yet I try to turn the page / Searching for a purpose, though I try to take it day by day.” Uncertainty, romantic and otherwise, in the face of COVID-19 is a prominent theme in “Safe.”
Based out of New York City, Teitelbaum boasts depth as an artist. Though “Safe” carries a hip-hop framework, R&B, electronic and pop elements are blended throughout the fast-paced single. “When creating ‘Safe,’ I wasn’t really thinking about a defining sound, nor do I with anything I write,” Teitelbaum said. “I’m very open to new things, new styles, sounds and perspectives.”
Teitelbaum’s versatility is also reflected in his musical background. He cites his musically inclined mother — who, in her 20s, played keyboard and saxophone in a rock band — as his initial creative influence. “She was always playing me the classics — rock, jazz, blues, even classical — and taking me to concerts when I was little,” he said. This early exposure to diverse musical forms led Teitelbaum to pick up the guitar and begin writing music at around 8 years old, and influenced his stylistic evolution as an artist.
“I started out writing strictly rock songs, then some punk and more alternative stuff and eventually started making hip-hop, rap and R&B-oriented songs,” Teitelbaum told the Collegian. His arrival at Kenyon prompted musical collaborations with peers based in alternative, indie and folk rock sounds.
As Teitelbaum moves toward expanding his discography, he hopes to establish unique and innovative work that is representative of his experience in a multitude of genres. “My goal for creating new music is to be creating something different and fresh-sounding every time I record a new song,” he said.
One of the latter verses in “Safe” touches on Teitelbaum’s determination in achieving this goal and understanding the meaning behind his work. The lines, “Striving towards a purpose … Fall into a pattern when what matters starts to surface,” hint at a journey in self-growth.
Pleased with the positive response to his song, Teitelbaum now plans to release a new single every month. He anticipates that each track will bring a modern sound or new style into his musical repertoire and hopes to expand upon preexisting musical concepts with future songs.
“Safe” is available on all major streaming platforms.