JAY-Z

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8min1990

A self-confessed foodie, SiR unfortunately did not get to experience true local cuisine, but fed the souls of many who came out on Friday night to see him perform at the Alchemy festival.

“I love to eat, so anywhere I go I always try to find the best food. Plus I smoke big trees, so anytime someone has some (when it’s safe) I partake,” says SiR speaking to Tha Bravado.

Due to his short stay in the country, he couldn’t really explore some of the country’s best food, admitting that he was subjected to some Porto Rican food the night before.

In a crimson room that would make a great makeshift Death Row recording studio, I sit with the singer, producer from Inglewood just before his performance, with his bodyguards stationed at the entrance.

SiR in conversation with Tha Bravado. Photo by Siphiwe ‘Spijo’Manana

He arrived in the country Thursday and was out Saturday. This being his first visit on the continent, like most tourists who come from distant lands where African people aren’t in the majority, SiR was pleasantly surprised by the ubiquity of black dominance. “It’s really good to see black people in power, working together with white people,” he said.

He’s signed under Top Dawg Entertainment, which is also home to Kendrick Lamar, Shoolboy Q, SZA and other stars. Ab-Soul and the latter have in the past spoken about their frustration with album delays at TDE, but SiR says he isn’t concerned by that. “Everything happens in its proper time. I’m patient. And I trust my team, we don’t have to rush what we do.”

His music is smooth as wine and quenches the soul’s thirst like glass of cold water, on a hot summer’s day. It’s mind bending that he initially rejected getting into music having grown up in a home where everyone is gifted in the art. His mother is a former backing vocalist for Michael Jackson, Yolanda Adams and Tina Turner and his brothers, Daniel and Davion Farris are songwriters who’ve been in the game for a minute. “I definitely had an appreciation for music early on. Growing up in the church taught me a lot about music, musicians and I’ve always had a place in my heart for Hip Hop,” he says.

SiR doing his thing at the Alchemy Festival. Photo by Siphiwe Manana

His appreciation for Hip Hop is evident in the music he makes, no better than the song Jay-Z from his debut album Seven Sundays. “I was in studio with the fellas and wanted to tell that story that way. I’m from Inglewood California and when I talk about ‘head down Bird, make a left on Third…’ I’m talking about actual street names of where I’m from,” he says. During his performance on Friday night, he sang Jay-Z over Jigga’s Girls Girls Girls which had the audience tripping. It fit like glove in hand.

His introduction to the music was through sound engineering, but he worked on his song writing on the side, which led to him writing for some of the best musicians like Jill Scott and Tyrese. “I was very unsure of myself when I first started writing, but I had great mentors guiding me and I worked hard to overcome my insecurities,” he says.

He jumped on stage Friday night, with a show of humility greeting the eager screaming fans in Nguni, “Sawubona” he said.  Wearing an oversized top with stripes,that looked like a rugby jersey, with a Chinese collar, he looked comfortable enthralling the audience with his array of soulful joints. The backdrop was the cover of his album, November which brought much needed visuals on the simple stage.

Giving people what they came from. Photo by Siphiwe ‘Spijo’Manana

There were chants of ‘we want more’ at the end of his hour long set, after he performed the two leading singles from November, D’Evils and Summer In November. It was intimate while simultaneously being a jump. A telling sign of the kind of music he makes, which can be dubbed new age R&B in how it fuses sweet harmonies and melodies with thumping 808s. “I just know my sound is true to me. I’m still evolving as an artist as well. Who knows what my music will sound like in 10 years.”

You’d swear he was about to be knighted at the end of his set, kneeling in gratitude to the audience for giving him their time.

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7min387732

Make up sex is awesome but does the same energy translate into good music?

Following Solange’s karate kid antics in the elevator in 2014, Beyoncé’s revelations on Lemonade and Jay-z’s explanations on 4:44, it would appear that the Carters have overcome whatever issues they had in their marriage. Predictably , they are not the type of people to let a good crisis resolution go to waste, thus they dropped a surprise album on June 16 in order to add a couple of zeros to their already overflowing bank accounts, cementing their position as king and queen of American urban music.

The album opens with a ballad-like slow jam titled Summer in which the Carters lyrically paint pictures of sex on the beach, or on a yacht, surrounded by crystal blue waters without a care in the world. Luxury and marital bliss is the stuff that a big girl’s dreams are made of and Beyoncé flawlessly delivers with her sensually subliminal lyrics; I want you to come inside right now…so you know just how I feel, with Jigga expressing teenage boy like excitement with his adlibs. The whole joint feels like a honeymoon anthem which is meant to convince the listener that everything is love. I thought the whole album was going to carry this mood but on the following three records in the project, the Carters make it clear that they are on another level when it comes to the cheddar cheese.  On the bouncy joint accurately named Boss, Jigger goes off on his haters, stating Niggers rather work for the man…than to work for me…just so they can pretend…they on my level…that shit is irking to me. Throughout the project the Carters make it clear that they are building a legacy for generations to come, which is a refreshing reprieve from the typical hedonistic tendencies of modern day Hip-hop.

The Pharell-produced Nice has to be my favourite joint on this project. It has a playful demeanour about it, with a funny moment in the song where Beyoncé gives Spotify the middle finger; Patiently waiting for my demise…cause my success can’t be quantified…if I gave two fucks about streaming numbers…when you pull up my name on Spotify…fuck you…fuck you…you cool…fuck you. I couldn’t stop chuckling by myself as I was walking to the shops to get some cigarettes.

Listening to the joint 713 it dawned on me that this might be the first time in Hip-hop history that we get husband and wife conversations on an entire Hip-hop influenced album. The Carters’ consistent Hip-hop references in the album feel organically refreshing, with Beyoncé pulling a young Snoop Dogg impression on 713I’m representing  for the hustlers all across the world…still dipping in my low lows girl…I put it down for the 713…and we still got love for the streets followed by a Jigger’s impression of Common I never knew a… love…love…love like this…got to be special for me to write this…queen…I don’t mean no disrespect -its disgustingly cute.

This is a strong project from the Carters, they manage to mix Hip-hop and R&B without sounding too pretentious, which was a pleasant surprise for me as someone who generally can’t tolerate sentimentality. There are no true radio bangers on this album, which is surprising considering the mainstream appeal of both artist. Perhaps the first single of the project, Apeshit might dominate the charts but I doubt it. The video drips with opulence but I think it will go over the heads of Trap-lords who are the main target of the song sonically. Niggers wanna see racks and Lambos, not the Carters mean mugging in front of the Mona Lisa because niggers don’t read. But regardless, Hovah and Queen B are gonna stay winning, best believe that.

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7min2930

In the sixth episode of the second season of Atlanta, Darius drives out of town to a mansion owned by the peculiar and wealthy Teddy Perkins, to pick up a piano he found on the internet.

Before getting into the reason for his visit, Darius and Perkins have a brief chat about music. “Rap…I found it never quite grew out of its adolescence,” says Perkins. He goes on to say that rap is insufficient as an art form, to which Darius subtly disagrees. This brief conversation came to mind as I listened to the Nasir album by Nas.

The times we’re living in, allow us to witness the first batch of active, middle aged emcees that aren’t just putting music out, but also competing on the charts with the younger emcees. The likes of Common, Jay- Z, KRS-ONE, Eminem and others are prime examples; thus indicating Hip Hop’s growth as an art form. But the downside of these grown men being behind the mic, is that as fans we inevitably compare them to their younger selves. It’s an unfair comparison I admit, but what can I say, fans are fans and they are the life blood of the art form.

…I didn’t like Bonjour but after a few more listens the joint grew on me like pubic hair…

I’m an avid consumer of this Hip Hop thing and I was disappointed with the 44 year-old Nas’s execution on Nasir. Mind you, I wasn’t comparing him to that 20 year-old from Queens that released Illmatic in 1994. That would certainly be unfair because that album is one of the greatest bodies of work of all time. This project doesn’t even compare to his last one, Life is Good.

I liked the idea of this album; how he talked about his Pan-Africanness, Police violence on black people in the US and on his personal life. But I don’t think he came proper with his flow and bars. Nas could’ve done more.

Not For Radio I didn’t enjoy because of the dragged-out flow which sounded like a poem on a good beat. At times, he was off beat which made me cringe. Certainly not a good way to open the album.

On Cops, he sounded like the Nas we’ve grown to like post- Illmatic. He doesn’t necessarily kill the beat with the raps, but the weight of the truth in the song holds the joint. While Kanye spat what could be his finest verse in a long while.

Throughout the album, Ye’s beats are something to marvel at- much like the other albums he’s produced that have come out in the past four weeks. After this offering though, my conclusion is that Mr West should release a beat tape, just for control as they say.

At first, I didn’t like Bonjour but after a few more listens the joint grew on me like pubic hair.  In the song Nas is flexing about the good life he’s blessed with, travelling to beautiful parts all over the world, yet dropping knowledge on how to spend money and creating a better future for your offspring.

Everything is also a beautiful song, but Kanye’s presence could have you thinking it’s a Ye joint featuring Nas. Adam and Eve isn’t my favourite, but he came correct and was on par with the beat. The album gets better with each song. It’s just unfortunate that it is only seven tracks, which demands more of an artist because you can’t come out not half-stepping in any of the songs, as oppose to a 13 track album which gives one more time and room to build momentum and play around some ideas. Nas grew more palatable as the album went. Simple Things is a good joint that’s far from being simplistic.

The album’s replay value is unsatisfactory, one is left to nit-pick and wanting more. But this isn’t the worst Nas project, but it’s far from Nas’ best.


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