Carson, CA record label Top Dawg Entertainment (abbreviated more commonly as TDE) is home to some of America’s finest talent. There’s crushing Chattanooga MC Isaiah Rashad, who’s released two polished studio albums under his moniker; ScHoolboy Q, arguably the most underrated rapper in the world, who continues to destroy the rest of Hip Hop with prime flows and tinkling wordplay; and of course, one cannot forget about 2017’s top two artists in SZA and Kendrick Lamar, who have five and seven nominations for their works Ctrl and DAMN., respectively, at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
These four artists have certainly brought founder and CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith’s label into a major spotlight, and it’s even more incredible that there are other talented artists who push the boundaries of their genres from the lower rungs, like flagship members and Californians Jay Rock and Ab-Soul, who put refreshing twists on today’s, at times, stale Hip Hop landscape, and electronically-inspired Chicago crooner Lance Skiiiwalker. This list also includes the mysterious Inglewood native SiR, the label’s most recent signee, who recently released his first album under TDE, November.
November is a triumphant effort from the singer-songwriter-producer. Set as a venture through outer space, November details SiR’s love story. The root of this inconsistent affection starts when SiR sings “All her lil friends can’t stand me/ Because they know I would trade her love for a Grammy” on “That’s Alright.” However, by the end of the project, SiR earns a revelation: His love for this person is what he was missing all along. SiR sings “Never felt a love like yours/ Now you’re tearin’ me apart/ Doesn’t matter where you are/ When’s it good to tame your heart?” on the song’s Pre-Chorus.
This journey to find love is the farthest thing from trivial. R&B, as a genre, has been notorious for combining distinct, low-tempo rhythms and sound patterns with corny songs about finding and making love (if you obviously exclude the greats, such as Usher, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, yada yada yada).
SiR is able to fuse a personally-developed production style that combines elements of Hip Hop, Jazz, R&B, Gospel and Electronic sounds. Take Track 5, “Something New (feat. Etta Bond).” The song starts with angelic trumpets that layer a pretty and ambient pallet and are quickly topped by crisp combinations of percussion, marshmellowy guitars dotting the background and SiR’s cherubic vocals. Another productive highlight is the ScHoolboy Q-assisted “Something Foreign.” Dark, yet playful keys are accompanied by reverbed drums to birth a narrative that sounds like it would be happening under a sorrowful rain.
There is something about SiR’s cut at music that isn’t contrived. On one hand, there really isn’t anything overly complex about SiR’s sound: it is digestible, light and simple, which can easily be taken as being boring. On the other hand, SiR is extremely mysterious. His soundscapes aren’t quite sullen, but they aren’t superbly bright either.
There is this gray, yet decadent and sexy area that seems to only be occupied by SiR.