When forming his rap persona, Portland emcee Sam Jacobsen could’ve called himself anything. He chose to go by his last name, unaltered. Because like many of the artists that inspired his subdued, confessional style (early Drake, J Cole, Eminem when he’s not being an asshole), Jacobsen isn’t all that interested in fiction. And on his latest EP, Jacobsen Season, he’s feeling openly conflicted: grief-stricken and defiant, nostalgic and bitter, in love and alone. “Tough son of a bitch wearing Rip 14s / Was down to half a parent when I hit 14,” he spits over the reflective piano chords of “The Intro,” all simmering rage and ballooning pride. Jacobsen doesn’t just process the staggering losses he’s had to deal with in his young life, he wields them like weapons, his family name a shield of tempered steel. It all comes to a head on “Stand Tall,” a track so personal it feels wrong to quote here. Elevated by ruminative, spattered-window production from Maven, Jacobsen Season succeeds as hip-hop therapy, where the artist gets to organize emotional conflict into satisfying rhyme structures and the listener gets swept away in the authenticity of it all. “I decided early / My real name my rap shit,” the artist shares on the final track. There ain’t nothing Lil about him.
— Joe Sweeney