By Tyler Bunzey
August 24, 2022
Byron Juane is a little bit crazy about love. On his newly released EP A Little Crazy, the Charlotte R&B singer shows that he’s unafraid to explore the vulnerable spaces between the heights of love and depths of infatuation. Following his 2020 project I Promise I’m Not Crazy, Juane meanders through the stages of attraction, obsession, and loneliness that haunt those stuck in the yokes of love and trauma. “I want to encompass the whole journey of love,” Juane said of the new project. “It’s not just one thing because love isn’t just one thing.”
Juane began his musical explorations of love at a young age. The Gastonia-raised singer started his career as a toddler when his mother decided to get him drum lessons, a decision likely exacerbated by his incessant banging on pots and pans. By six, Juane started to learn the trumpet. As he grew older, he began to test his voice in the church choir. However, his middle school interest in hip-hop became his true passion; he interwove his rapped verses with his budding voice, eventually leaning into singing as his primary medium.
Juane grew up in a deeply religious household. His mother is a minister and his grandfather a deacon. By 2019, he was signed to Christian rapper Derek Minor of Reflection Music Group, who is most famously associated with the Christian rap collective, 116 (formerly 116 Clique). However, in more recent years, Juane’s moved away from more explicitly religious music. “Now I’m just kind of going through and figuring out what faith looks like for me…this [journey] has helped me frame my music in a different way,” he said.
While his music carries certain chivalrous conceptions of love that can be traced back to his religious upbringing, it more directly engages an unpolished view of love contemporary Christian music usually ignores. This focus appeared in 2020’s EP Promise I’m Not Crazy. In tracks like “LSD”– and its accompanying psychedelic-inspired visuals– the singer croons about the old trope of love’s intoxicating quality. Most of the tracks on the EP follow this kind “love hurts so good” theme, even in more soft, anthemic songs like “Gentle” and “Gorgeous.”
A Little Crazy takes this concept and tightens it, taking the listener on a cyclical sojourn through the pain of love. The EP’s opening track, “1:43 AM,” places the listener squarely in the headspace of a brooding ex-lover. In Juane’s doleful reflection of “Toxic is all we’ll ever be” is a call-and-response with a digitally distorted, almost indecipherable voice that reflects the singer’s internal struggle. He then moves the listener through the overcompensation of infatuation in “Crazy.” This song is as close to the album’s heart as possible, presenting a lover whose “can you blame me?” attitude causes him to dangerously lose his cool, eventually watching his lover across the street and even breaking into her room. But Juane refuses to condone this passion, however pure. He instead uncovers the darker border of infatuation in order to show that this kind of romance never works out, especially later in the EP with tracks like “Love Me Then” and “Not ok, Not alright.”
But then, Juane shows how this painful and dangerous cycle of love begins. On “Nice Guy” the singer details the drawbacks of being placed in a category he simultaneously embraces and criticizes. ”Being a typical quote unquote nice guy or a good man doesn’t mean you are corny,” he said. “You could still be sexy, you could still have that edge to you. But you ain’t got to be out here destroying people’s lives.”
On songs like “Nice Guy,” “It Was Beautiful (Sorry),” and his collaboration with San Antonio R&B artist Xavier Omar, “Beautiful,” you can hear this balance between maintaining a kind persona and wanting to be desired. The conclusion to Omar’s guest verse encapsulates this tension: “I’ll love you anywhere that you should go / Ain’t the feeling mutual?” By the album’s concluding track, “Obsessed,” Juane is back in the throes of maniacal fixation, restarting the EP’s cycle and thrusting the listener back to the discontentment of “1:43 AM.”
This vertiginous teetering makes the listener experience the album’s crazy-in-love motif viscerally. It’s clear why Juane has leaned on the “crazy” trope heavily in his recent output, which he will continue with a third EP in this series of releases that explores how good guys go bad. While this recurring trope may seem bleak, Juane aspires to help people break this cycle. “Every bad boy was a nice guy at some point,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to let people know that true love exists. And that good men do still exist.”
Listen to Byron’s Juane‘s new EP, A Little Crazy.