As an IB school, Obama has a reputation for being a grueling experience for upperclassmen- long nights, piles of papers, and projects upon projects. While the rigor of IB might appear to make it difficult for students to pursue extracurricular interests, many find the time to do so in fields as diverse as robotics and rapping. One of those students is Junior Zaire Giles, pseudonymously known as “DeZaire”. On Friday night Giles released Medusa, a five-song EP featuring the tracks “What I Don’t Understand (prod. Winston),” “Medusa,” “Animated,” “5 ft 3 (prod. TREETIME),” and “Get Down (prod. Big Cashew).” The EP (his first) is inspired by everyone from Giles’ own mother to Eminem. Here’s a quick overview.
Editor’s Note: We have decided not to include audio of the tracks in this article due to concerns over appropriateness of their language and content for all audiences who might read articles on the Eagle Online. If you are interested in listening to the songs before, during, or after reading this article, here are the links.
5 ft 3
What I Don’t Understand
The EP’s title track, Giles describes this as the one he’s proudest of, saying that, “It’s my longest track and I produced the beat, wrote the lyrics, and mixed it all on my own. Really satisfied with the final piece.” “Medusa” has an underlying electronic beat and features a new element in Giles’ music- singing. This is the first song in which he’s incorporated his own voice singing, and Giles explained his motivations as, “I feel that it is important to have multiple skills if you are going to be a great artist. Truthfully my singing is not the best but that’s not stopping me, I’ll improve. Not only that but it adds so much more to my songs especially the choruses.” The choruses are thematically centered about the mythological figure Medusa, whose famous snake-hair ties in with allusions to cobras, pythons, and Nachash (the snake in the Garden of Eden) throughout the song. The choruses are also part of the reason for the song’s length; at 5:08, it really is Giles’ longest track. In creating the song, Giles focused on making something “repenting against bad breakups” that was also “cool and catchy;” Childish Gambino and Juice WRLD were important inspirations.
Fittingly, given its title, this track is riddled with references to Japanese culture, cartoon television, and various movies. It serves as a window into the changing sound of Giles’ music since his last solo track, 2018’s “Lyrical Leprechaun”. In “Animated” Giles’ flow has a clearer cadence and his lyrics are better enunciated. There’s a practiced familiarity with the beat that creates a more cohesive final product and a better-developed sense of how to mix sounds; as an artist, Giles is clearly developing. “Animated” was actually the first song Giles released. He says, “I decided to remake it with the skills that I have now improved upon across the few years I’ve been rapping. The gist of the song is basically a cool way of expressing my flexibility to things and how adaptable I am willing to be to become successful (all while using metaphors based around cartoons and animations).”
5 ft 3
In this track, Giles relies on a beat from TREETIME, a YouTube-based creator. He continues to experiment with singing in the chorus, creating refrains based on having “five million three thousand” things to do and “five foot three” (the latter being non-singing). Like “Animated,” “5 ft 3” is less strongly felt than “Medusa,” but his manipulation of pitches in the track provides possible avenues for Giles to explore in the future. Giles explains that this song came out of being self-conscious of his height and wanting “to make a song to instead celebrate [his] height and body and create a song that proves [he’s] comfortable in my own skin.”
What I Don’t Understand
From the start, “What I don’t Understand” has a different feel from either of the two previous songs. Produced by Winston Bell, a Pittsburgh Online Academy student, the track’s beat is more percussive and Giles takes a more serious tone. He addresses both negative aspects of rap culture and his own path through the song, creating an interesting juxtaposition with other tracks on the EP. In Giles’ own words, “‘What I Don’t Understand’ is a track in which I am speaking on the terrible rappers in the rap game that don’t have much lyrical skill, and basically ‘ragging’ on them throughout the whole song.”
The final track on Medusa, “Get Down” was produced by Obama Academy student Kingston Cox, also known as “Big Cashew”. Unlike other tracks on the EP, “Get Down” does not include any singing; the focus is clearly more on rapid rapping and the mixing of the sound effects produced by Cox within the beat with Giles’ lyrics. Giles said he, “definitely appreciated working with Big Cashew. He delivered with the hard-knocking beat and I would 100% work with him again.” Cox reciprocated, saying in a message that, “producing the track ‘Get Down’ was a fun experience and I’m very proud of the final product.” Giles intended this song to have an “upbeat dance vibe.”
Pulling together this EP was not easy, even for a relatively experienced young rapper like Giles (who has released several singles). Medusa is his first original upload in eight months, showing how much time and effort Giles put into creating the final product. On his part, Giles says he hopes “everyone enjoys the listen” to Medusa, a showcase of the talent and passion Obama students pour into their work in and out of the classroom.