It sounds like nighttime… 20-year-old Connecticut-born singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Kevin George pieces together a nocturnal soundtrack perfect for a midnight metropolitan cruise. On this ride, smoky synths emit a neon glow like street lights, warped guitar transmissions wail, thick beats skitter and speed up, and silky vocals soar. (Picture an after-hours club headlined by The Weeknd fronting Tame Impala and you’re just past the velvet rope...) This haze of alternative soul, fashion-forward R&B, and hip-hop bravado established George as a quiet phenomenon since his emergence in early 2018.

The artist’s debut EP, LOVELAND, yielded a hit in the form of “High Like This,” which clocked over 2.2 million Spotify streams in under three months. Meanwhile, the follow-up FORTINA boasted the fan favorite “She Don’t Love Me” [feat. GUNNA]. In the aftermath of its arrival, he garnered early acclaim from The Fader, Pigeons & Planes, and many others and landed a deal with Young Forever/Island Records. The music represents him at his core. “It’s my thoughts, truth, and deepest, darkest motions,” he admits. “There’s no cap, constraint, or remorse. I’m confidently saying what I want and feel. I put everything I love and all of what I am into these records.”

Born and raised in Stamford, CT, George initially devoted all of his time and energy to football. A star among his school’s team, he set his sights on a career in the NFL—until his coach got fired. In the midst of “a super dark time,” he retreated into music inspired to make beats and rap by friends. Finding inspiration in J Dilla, Kanye West, Mac Miller, and more, he started producing and rhyming in 2013. Neglecting to even apply to college, music would be his main focus. As he continued to amass a growing discography, he took a part-time job as a music teacher and camp counselor in the midst of grinding to be heard. “My whole vision to break rules,” he says. “You got this 20-year-old black kid from Connecticut playing guitar and piano. You don’t see that often. I never thought I’d be here a few years ago.”

Now, he transports listeners to unexpected places on his Hopeless Romantic EP. The first single “Call Me When You’re Sober” emanates raw emotion over a spacey and stark soundscape. It relays a true story for George. “This girl was super infatuated with me, but it seemed like she only wanted to talk to me when she was super drunk,” he recalls. “I like conversation. I’m not into all that. This girl would just call when she was wasted, so this hits home for me.” Meanwhile, forlorn falsetto takes hold on the airy and expansive follow-up “Nobody Knows You Anymore,” which is about “people who think just because you’re doing things with your life that you don’t fuck with them.”

In the end, the title Hopeless Romantic represents the first step on what promises to be a long journey. “It sums me up,” he leaves off. “It’s the first chapter. I’m just a kid who has a big heart. Having a big heart means being the nice guy, but that has its flaws. It’s everything. I want to document the greatest times and darkest emotions. I hope I can take them away from reality—just not too far.”