Sophomore Explores Hip Hop’s Depth Through New Album


Image by Keelan O'Neill

Sophomore hip hop artist Steven Bietz looks at his album collection in his room. He launched his album “Composition” at the beginning of the year, making it his first album of the year and fifth album of all time released under the name “Departure”. “The name ‘Departure’ comes from two different things,” Bietz said. “Nujabes is a Japanese hip hop producer and he produced an album for an anime called ‘Samurai Champloo’ called ‘Departure’, [which I enjoyed]. The name is also metaphorical because I was actually leaving the internet community that I was a part of when I started producing music.”

Locked inside his room, sophomore Steven Bietz listens to a melodious and soothing rhythm. As he bobs his head, he eagerly takes in the sound through his headphones. The song he’s listening to isn’t just from another popular artist. In fact, it’s his own. After the track comes to an end, a proud smile flashes across his face. Shortly after, he clicks “publish”. 

Bietz, known artistically as “Departure”, released his hip hop album “Composition” at the beginning of the year. This is his fifth album launched under the name “Departure” and his first release of 2023.

“It took me, give or take, six months [to create this album],” Bietz said. “I started producing it at the end of July last year and I finished it around the time I released the first single for it, which is track three, ‘Skin of the Soul.’”

“Composition” includes 15 songs and Bietz collaborates with other hip hop artists in seven of them. Although he is proud of all of them, Bietz does have his favorites. 

“My favorite songs from the album are a tie between ‘Believe It’ and ‘Heart Sinking,’” Bietz said. “Those were the first two songs that I made for the entire album. I really like the 2000s influence sample hip hop that I did on ‘Believe It’ and I think that Elvisious really added a lot to the song with his feature. Then, ‘Heart Sinking’ was a weird amalgamation of experimental techniques and Voonex York’s feature with that too.” 

Originally, the album’s intended title was “Only God Can Tell the Truth”. However, Bietz decided to take his project in a different direction. 

“I started producing the album before I got my executive producer, Skylar, to work on it and that was when she gave me the idea to change the name and call it ‘Composition’,” Bietz said. “It was mainly supposed to be this sound-focused album, but when I brought Skylar in, she gave me this concept of making the album with two different parts, [forming a composition].” 

Although hip hop and rap are Bietz’s current favorite music genres, his infatuation with them didn’t develop right away. 

“The funny thing is I wasn’t really interested in hip hop when I was younger, ” Bietz said. “I actually started getting into it when I was in the eighth grade. It then just had a hold on me that I couldn’t get off and I really wanted to do something in that genre, so that’s when I started [producing hip hop music].”

Over the span of three years, Bietz has improved his production and editing techniques. He has also collaborated with other artists during this process, bringing in different perspectives and sounds to his work. 

“On past singles, I did a production with one of my old friends who was known as ‘High Life,’” Bietz said. “I also have a duo production called ‘Homebound Kid’ with one of my other friends named ‘Butterfly Boy.’” 

Although he recently released an album, this doesn’t stop Bietz from creating new material. In fact, he is currently working on more than one new project. 

“I’m doing two collaborative albums right now,” Bietz said. “One of them is with Johnny Farias, who is on Composition. I’m also working on another collaborative album with this guy named ‘Young Hachi’ who I met on Twitter.” 

When working on his next release and listening to music, Bietz finds inspiration behind the work of several hip hop artists. 

“My top five artists who inspire me are J Dilla, Madlib, Freddie Gibbs, Logic, and Nas,” Bietz said. “I really like all of their uniquenesses, even though Logic is a little bit more derivative with his barring in comparison to the other four. I’ve always liked Nas’ delivery. J Dilla brought so much to the Hip Hop and neo-soul genre, while Madlib followed that along with his very prolific production techniques and collaborations. As for Freddie Gibbs, he’s just really good.” 

To continue his passion and further develop his production skills, Bietz intends to pursue a professional career in music after high school graduation. 

“I’m currently looking into music college programs,” Bietz said. “I’m hoping that I can get a scholarship to this music program at Berklee College of Music. Once I graduate from McNeil, I want to go there full time.”

Bietz encourages students and adults alike to listen to his music. He hopes that people enjoy the content he offers and find new meaning behind it. 

“I think people should listen to my album because I give a lot of unique takes when it comes to hip hop, especially as a younger producer,” Bietz said. 

Composition can now be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and Bandcamp. To stream on your preferred music platform, search for Bietz’s work under the username @Departure on all previously mentioned apps. 

To keep up with Bietz’s latest music announcements, follow him on Instagram @ddeparturee.