Socially conscious with conflicted spiritual roots and a powerful story to tell, rising Virginia rapper Evan Barlow releases his first official mixtape, FABRICS; and the project illustrates exactly who he is--flaws and all.

With 17 tracks and more than an hour-and-a-half of raw lyricism, Barlow details his life's journey as a drug addict turned rapper-in-recovery with no filter. The project's first track, simply titled "Intro," opens with a melodic electric guitar elegantly strumming the pain and beauty of Barlow's life in musical form. The Virginia-bred MC introduces himself unapologetically, recalling one of his life's lowest points, when he "lay here in prayer on a cell floor...holding [his] knees hoping [he] don't seize up and fade away when the drugs leave."

The emotional song goes on to detail a harsh memory; the Richmond native's mother passed away while he was locked in cell. Barlow rhymes about the pain of being told to "take a call," knowing "it can't be good," and hearing his father's voice on the other end of the phone line telling him his mother was "in a better place."

"Crying Over Monday" addresses his struggle with drugs, which began at age 17. "Just a wishful dream, just a wish I wish I wish it wasn't what it seems/And how am I a fiend, how I pick that needle up when I was 17?," says Barlow. The song goes on to illustrate--and to question--what it means to be a "junkie."

"What a junkie look like, describe him to me/Alright, homeless and broke and with 20 stains on his friends a shopping cart; a cardboard sign that says I'm homeless/Anything helps, man anything else? Now save that sh-t for someone else." He continues, "A junkie is your little baby brother; a junkie is your mother/A junkie is your friend; a junkie's that someone you love; that one person you can't live without/That one person that you need/So save that there for someone else." The moral of the story: "Addiction don't discriminate."

"Come Together" and "Window" lyrically and sonically portray telling moments in the rapper's life: "Come Together" brings Barlow's demons to life, and his continual inner-battle living with his addictions as a junkie--a word and theme he revisits throughout the project.

"But junkie's don't go to heaven/They never stand at the gate/There's a special place in hell for the sociopathic addict...I'm giving into this f--king pain again/I'm telling myself that this has got to end."

"Window" breaks down the hold the devil had on his soul while on drugs. He opens the song by blatantly stating, "the devil put in work." His story is a constant tug-of-war between angels and demons, and for quite some time it's clear the "demons" were ahead of the curve.

"I just want Satan to let me be/Just let me breathe one time for the evil, it's creepin' itself on me/And I don't want nothin' unless it's peace of mind/Give me peace, and let me be."

Barlow fuses a broad musical palette; from electronic rock to raw hip-hop on a brilliant project that lays everything on the table. Love it or hate it, his music - and story - is true.

You can hear Evan's latest (and official) project at



20 Best Singles of 2016… So Far