The Untold Truth Of Giveon - Nicki Swift (2024)

Music

The Untold Truth Of Giveon - Nicki Swift (1)

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ByBrian Yost/

Giveon can do it all as a musical artist. This soulful R&B singer has a genre-bending sound that pairs well with the biggest names in music. Most fans were first introduced to Giveon through his feature on "Chicago Freestyle" by Drake. Others will recognize him on the second half of Justin Bieber's smooth hit "Peaches." But Giveon also became "a singular star with multiple Billboard hits, including his breakthrough top 20 solo outing, 'Heartbreak Anniversary.'" The singer said of his versatility, "I don't see myself staying in the same pocket forever, but I also don't see myself abandoning the sound that I've naturally loved." His approach is working — Giveon won Best New Artist at the 2021 BET Awards. Not just in music, Giveon is becoming a star in fashion as well. As an attendee of the 2021 Met Gala, Giveon wore a green Valentino ensemble and one of the best red carpet looks of the evening, according to Just Jared.

Behind the impressive start to his career, Giveon had to deal with the negative aspects of being a freshly discovered talent. This wasn't the only hard part of the singer's development, growing up in a difficult environment that could have easily derailed his dreams. Instead, Giveon grinded through unglamorous teenage years to become one of the brightest young stars in music.

Turn up your headphones for the untold truth of Giveon.

Giveon's seaside childhood

Giveon grew up in Long Beach, California as "one of three brothers raised by a single mother," according to Okay Player. "I grew up on the East side of Long Beach," Giveon explained of his upbringing. But he admitted his hometown "was fun, dangerous, and interesting all at the same time." Fortunately, his mom found a good balance for the boys in the sometimes violent neighborhood. Giveon remembered his mom made "sure my brothers and I didn't become a product of our environment, but she also gave us room to experience what it means to be from Long Beach." As a result of his developing years in California, Giveon claimed "becoming an artist came naturally for me."

In an interview with Vice, Giveon further elaborated on the real dangers of his childhood home. He said Long Beach was in "a transitional phase" from once being "the peak of gang culture. That's a crazy thing to be born into." Giveon again credited his mom for creating a safe environment. Coming from the "place where gang culture was birthed," Giveon said he and his brothers were shielded from the dark aspects of the city. "We weren't exposed to it until we walked to school," he recalled about the potentially violent culture near their home.

The surprising first performance by Giveon

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As a boy, Giveon first discovered his special talent. "I didn't know I could sing at first, until my mom pointed it out and that was around elementary school," he told Flaunt. Later as a kid, Giveon remembered going to various birthday parties, which were also chances to flex his vocal skills. But not by choice. PerDJ Booth, Giveon's mom made him sing at these events. He remembered at family gatherings, "everyone would sing around the cake, and after that, she'd call me over and force me to sing." Looking back, Giveon recognized that her insistence helped turn him into a successful singer. Giveon said he refers to his mom as Mr. Miyagi, referencing the wise sensei from "The Karate Kid." According to Giveon, "Singing the happy birthday song over and over — that was building my craft; how to stay in pitch and all that."

Even though he improved his voice, Giveon said he still received criticism. People told him, "because you're a singer, you're soft," especially growing up "in a house of four boys." Fortunately, Giveon persisted with his passion. Plus, he said, "As time goes on, though, everyone sees it's cool to sing." Once he became an R&B star, Giveon said he used his same experience as a child to care less about other people's opinions. "There's still stuff I do now that my friends will try to roast me over, but I'm just myself regardless," he said.

Giveon reveals his name origin

For his first album "Take Time," Giveon stylized his name as GIVĒON, per Genius. The one word moniker brings to mind other . Giveon's stage name is a shorter version of his full name, Giveon Dezmann Evans. Growing up, Giveon wished he had a simpler sounding name like one of his brothers, John. He recalled in a Rolling Stone interview asking his mom about the origin of his given name. "She said, honestly, I just see you being a given person one day," the singer revealed. After his mom's explanation, Giveon shifted his opinion and said, "Now I'm so happy that she didn't just give me a regular name." He even bragged about having a unique name to his brother John. Giveon claimed his newfound ownership also translated into feeling confident about his one-of-a-kind voice by "accepting who I am."

Plus, in terms of branding, Giveon said his name was perfect for the music industry. He elaborated, "If I have the same name as my brother, it would be hard to just put John on a shirt, you know?" To make sure people pronounce Giveon correctly, the singer posted a short video on Twitter to set the record straight.

How Giveon paired with Justin Bieber

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In the spring of 2021, the song "Peaches" became Justin Bieber's seventh single to reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was another accolade for the Canadian pop star but "Peaches" was the biggest success to date for the track's featured artists Giveon and Daniel Caesar. Both men earned their first Billboard number one single, which also won the Best Pop Award at the 2021 MTV VMAs.

In an interview for Rolling Stone, Giveon explained how the trio came together for the summer smash. "So I think I gave him my number one time because he was a big fan of 'Take Time' and told me he was listening to it all the time," he said about Bieber. Giveon remembered he was in the studio one day when Bieber "FaceTimed me and was like, 'Yo, I really want you on this, please get on it.'" At the time, Giveon said he was struggling with creating music. But when he first heard the early version of "Peaches," Bieber's effort on the track inspired Giveon. "Yo, Bieber coming crazy. So I gotta come crazy," he explained. The R&B singer sent his verse back to Bieber who said "this is amazing!" The pair agreed to add Caesar to the mix and the track became a huge success. Giveon said of the final track, "it's a vibe and I'm happy I get to show people that I have tempo to me as well."

Life before Giveon became famous

Before he became a famous R&B star, Giveon was a small crustacean in a big sea of talent — literally. He once worked for the seafood chain Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and as a member of the staff, he wore the company's shrimp costume. In an interview for Billboard, Giveon recalled one of the weirdest days when he put on the suit. Reportedly, a child wanted to pose with him for a photo, but Giveon said out loud, "Nah, man ... I'm not doing this. It's time for me to go." As the dressed up mascot, "You're not even supposed to talk in the suit, 'cause shrimps don't talk," the singer revealed. But he broke the rule on that day because "I was so fed up" with the role. "I left with no plan, no money or anything," Giveon said after he quit his job at the restaurant.

Following the shrimpcident, Giveon revealed, "I was doing unemployment for a little bit and then I started a dog-walking business in my neighborhood." The young man went around posting self-printed flyers for his one-man business. Even though he only walked dogs for a few months, at least one of his clients recognized that Giveon went on to be a popular musician. He recounted seeing a post on Twitter that said, "Giveon used to walk my dog, but he told me he quit 'cause he started really talking music seriously."

Giveon understands storytelling

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If things hadn't worked out in the music industry for Giveon, he might have become a famous author. One of his earliest creative outlets was writing short stories. According to Vice, Giveon took creative writing courses in college. But he told Billboard that reception of his stories "started off bad." According to the R&B singer, "My peers weren't interested in me reading 30-40 pages to them." As a result, Giveon never received feedback and the resulting gratification for his work. The singer explained his "impatience transformed into me wanting to shorten those stories so I can get the feedback that I wanted right away."

When he transitioned to writing music, Giveon said he used his long-form experience to craft a complete story in a short time frame. "The first line kind of sets the tone of the song and the last line of the verse wraps up what the verse is about. So it helps me move the story along and it also helps me with dialogue too," he said about his creative process. He also explained how the timelines of his multi-page stories affected his music. Giveon said, "I think even the way I structured my songs, they are all in order."

As a result of combining the best of both worlds, Giveon felt his lyrics became "even more relatable." But don't count out the R&B singer for a future novel. "I feel like I might go back into writing," he revealed.

How Giveon became a musician

While working various jobs growing up, Giveon saw potential in a music career. As summarized by Rolling Stone, the young man would "make music during his time off. He would make music that he didn't plan on anyone hearing just to continue to fine-tune his sound." Looking back on his early days of creating music, Giveon said, "I was lucky enough to be able to develop as an artist when no one was listening." According to the singer, once he fully accepted making songs that made him happy, with no pressure from outside influences, "people started actually hearing it and paying attention to it." All this tinkering and hard work came before his breakthrough feature on Drake's song "Chicago Freestyle." Fortunately, the foundation from Giveon's early days helped his rapid rise in the industry once the spotlight turned in his direction. According to Giveon, if "I started developing now, I literally don't know where I would be; I probably would have blown the moment." He admitted the timing was perfect for his work with Drake because "If the world met me at 18, I would sound completely different."

Giveon also revealed that his accomplishments in the music industry came thanks to others. In an interview with Billboard, the singer said part of his success came from "surrounding myself with people that are better than me and that know more than me." According to Giveon, he recognized "Learning is the biggest key" to continue advancing his career.

Giveon knows the Grammys well

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Enamored with music as a teen, Giveon used his proximity to the biggest award show in music to learn more about the industry. The singer was once part of a program hosted by the Recording Academy at the Grammy Museum. As Giveon detailed to Rolling Stone, the program takes "one hundred kids during the summer and for a week or two every day they go over something different in music history. Then during the music history part of the program, they would just tell us about the different eras." According to Giveon, one specific session left a lasting impression and showed the young man that his unique voice had big potential. After learning about the 1960s "swing jazz era, crooners like Nat King Cole, the Rat Pack, and all that, that's when I discovered there were these really swaggy, charismatic, non-gimmicky baritone singers." Giveon felt he could adapt the low register of these jazz icons over 50 years later "and make it more youthful and make it more me."

The program helped set Giveon on his path towards making music and he quickly gained positive recognition. By 2021, the same academy that trained him recognized the singer for his musicianship. His album "Take Time" earned a nomination for best R&B album at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Giveon told Vogue, "I wrote down that I wanted a Grammy nomination for 2020 and it happened." After manifesting his dream, the singer realized, "Anything is possible."

Giveon was an instant sensation

Many artists can only dream of the overnight fame that happened to Giveon. While the global recognition was great for him as an artist, Giveon realized that it also affected those around him. Giveon told Billboard of his quick success, "I don't think I've had anything absurd, but people's behavior has kind of switched." He explained in the interview "people I've talked to before, they're kind of more nervous now. I'm not sure why." One specific example was his friend's cousin. Giveon remembered often talking to the young boy prior to becoming famous. But "I FaceTimed him recently and he was so shy that he couldn't speak." The singer was shocked, remembering "I was just talking to you two months ago." Though he said overall the difference in people wasn't negative, Giveon admitted the most surprising part of all the hype was "how the perception switched overnight" about him.

Fortunately, Giveon saw his red-hot start in the music industry as a positive experience. In an interview for Schön! Magazine, he explained his rise was "surreal and happening very fast and smooth." According to the singer, "I've always dreamt of these moments and I wake up every day with an immense amount of gratitude." Those early dreams partly consisted of a vision board. Giveon told Billboard that he believes in the power of manifestation and created a checklist of goals to accomplish. As of 2020, he said he completed every item on his list.

How Giveon dealt with bad timing

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Giveon was just starting to enter the spotlight when the world completely changed. After his guest spot on "Chicago Freestyle" with Drake, Giveon released his debut EP "Take Time" on March 27, 2020, via Genius. Then, news of COVID-19 became the biggest global topic. "I wondered why some historic s*** had to happen the week I dropped," Giveon told Vice about his first EP. According to the singer, "We questioned pushing it back, thinking it would blow over, but we're six months into quarantine. I'd still be waiting." While he was quarantining like most people in the world, Giveon found the time helpful to his work as a musician. He told Schön! Magazine that his creativity flourished and "luckily for me just because the world slows down doesn't mean love will slow down. So I still have plenty of stories to tell."

Even though quarantine helped him creatively, Giveon admitted that the pandemic also created a stressful environment. So, the singer had a few activities that helped him unwind. "I love to write music, watch a Pixar film, or play video games with my family and friends," he told Vogue. Another method was to stay optimistic in the unprecedented times. "When I feel stressed, I remember there's always some sort of silver lining," he said. Giveon called 2020 the "worst year ever" because of the pandemic. "But it's also my breakout year career-wise, the year I got Grammy nominated," he explained.

Giveon is proud of his culture

Giveon showed off his skills as the featured artist on the NPR "Tiny Desk" concert series in 2021. The set, which he performed remotely with his band, also coincided with Black History Month. "Any moment to do this would be special," he said about playing in the long-running series. "But I think Black History Month ... just celebrating Black culture for this month, I'm really excited to get to do this on this platform," he said. Giveon was long interested in other Black artists, partly because of his upbringing. In an interview withDJ Booth, Giveon remembered listening to famous Black R&B singers as a kid. "I get my music taste from my mom," he explained. Specifically, he recalled listening to legends like Aretha Franklin and modern-day icons like Mary J. Blige. "So that's where my love of R&B comes from," he said.

When Schön! Magazine asked Giveon about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement, he remained hopeful that it would also positively affect the music industry. "Seeing the shift is a beautiful thing and I'm hoping there will be a lot more Black executives and a lot more Black female executives in the near future," he explained. According to the R&B singer, "Black art is what's driving the culture forward so it's only right that people who look like us are in those rooms speaking for us."

Giveon had moments of self-doubt

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Growing up, Giveon remembered having creative passion, especially in music. But the young man struggled to find people around him to talk about similar interests. In an interview for Vogue, Giveon said he "didn't really know any creative people growing up." As a result, he recalled, "I watched a lot of YouTube, which helped me to feel less alone." He became inspired by R&B stars Frank Ocean and Miguel but had trouble relating with his family. "Neither of my parents were creative — it's not that they weren't supportive, they just did different things than me," Giveon explained.

This desire for human connection continued as Giveon became a bigger and bigger star. He revealed to Elle, "I don't think I'm ever actually alone." The singer confessed, "I hate being by myself." According to Giveon, even if he is the only one in the room, he will be "FaceTiming with someone." Giveon claimed, "I have separation problems."

Sadly, the pandemic forced changes in Giveon's ability to see others. In the midst of quarantines, Giveon said it was his first time ever being truly alone, especially towards the end of 2020. Normally, he would spend the holidays with his family. But COVID-19 restrictions meant he could only spend time with a smaller group than normal. He explained to Vogue that instead, he used video calls to keep in touch with family. But Giveon said of the virtual connections, "It's not the same."

Who is Giveon dating?

With his smooth R&B voice and thoughtful lyrics, it's no surprise that Giveon linked up with significant others. These relationships also help inform the content of his lyrics. In a 2020 interview with Flaunt, Giveon revealed he was actively dating. "These songs have to come from somewhere," he explained. "I'm writing from a past situation, so 'Take Time' is from a previous relationship," Giveon said about his debut EP. While Giveon didn't reveal any names in the interview, he was rumored to be together with Justine Skye. She is also a singer and is reportedly close friends with Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber. In 2021, the Daily Mail spotted Giveon and Skye walking together in New York City. Allegedly, the two finished up "a two-hour dinner in Brooklyn" and "were seen walking back to her apartment together." According to the report, Giveon and Skye had "been romantically linked for months."

The Shade Room Instagram account put together a convincing argument that Skye and Giveon spent time together in tropical Jamaica. Right before Christmas of 2020, both singers posted photos in front of red ATVs. Plus, a video shows two people riding ATVs through the jungle who happen to be wearing the same clothes as the photos.

Giveon on working with Drake

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In early 2020, Drake released the single "Chicago Freestyle." In the track's music video, Drake showed off his incredible "Toronto mansion dubbed 'the Embassy,'" per Rolling Stone. But before the impressive house, the song starts off with Giveon singing about Chicago landmarks like Cloud Gate, Genius described. Prior to the feature, Giveon toured on only a few singles. With his setlist for the live shows rather short, Giveon would make up a freestyle for the different cities on his tour. He told Rolling Stone, "My manager Simon heard the Chicago one. He was like, 'Oh, this is fire!'" Simon passed along the audio to Drake who enlisted Giveon's wonderful voice. "And the crazy thing is, I did it in Chicago, and nobody knew what it would become. Not even me," Giveon admitted.

After the big debut, Giveon had to clarify that he was the one on the track. Previously, Drake used British singer Sampha on several tracks like "Motion" and "4422," via Genius. After some fans thought Sampha once again joined Drake, Giveon posted on Twitter, "That's not Sampha!! That's me!! Spread the word!!"

Following the collaboration, Giveon revealed his relationship status with the famous rapper. "I'm just a fan," Giveon admitted to Flaunt about Drake. According to Giveon, "At the end of the day, he's the biggest artist in the world. I'm still just a kid excited to be a part of anything he does. It's still that relationship there."

How much is Giveon worth?

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After a whirlwind couple of years, Giveon went from another R&B hopeful to one of the most adored singers in music. Following his first single "Garden Kisses" in 2018, via Flaunt, Giveon released his debut EPs "Take Time" and "When It's All Said and Done." Giveon combined both albums in 2021, which earned him his "first top 10 album on the Billboard 200." Plus, his lead single "Heartbreak Anniversary" gave Giveon his first solo entry in the top 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. The chairwoman and CEO of Epic Records Sylvia Rhone said the young artist's success was "a watershed moment for R&B music and artists globally." She added that his success "opens the door for more artists like him around the world." For all the accolades and chart success, Giveon quickly built up his bank account. As of 2021, Exact Net Worth estimated Giveon was worth $800,000.

With some of that money, the singer chose to live and work in his home state of California. Billboard reported that Giveon lived in a West Hollywood condo, which also housed a recording studio. But Giveon also shared his wealth with others, especially his family. He told Vogue, "I've taken on the tradition of hosting my family during the holidays." To prepare for the festive occasion, Giveon admitted, "I need to get a tree and my decorations for this year." Even more, "I want to get everyone one big, amazing gift."

The Untold Truth Of Giveon - Nicki Swift (2024)

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