SiR's November Tells a Tale of Maturation
The “W$ Boi” from Inglewood in the release of November, has given us what is in my opinion the best album of 2018 thus far. As far as debut projects go, it masterfully treads the lines of entertaining and soul-baring, providing an intimate look into the life of an artist on the rise. November reads like an excursion into the life of a person from The Wood who at first has all the markings of youth: brash, inwardly focused, and with the sophomoric idea that relationships are hindrances to success. As all things do, this swiftly changes as the artist in the latter half of the project begins to realize what he is missing out on by limiting his relationships to shallow encounters. There is a “come to Jesus” moment in this album, a turning point where Sir comes to grips with the fact that he has become his own worst enemy in his singular pursuit of musical success.
“Shields at 100%”
Perhaps we as listeners are approaching this all wrong. Perhaps everything you just read in the previous paragraph is what you would have gleaned from this album if you did not identify the crumbs left behind to lead you out the forest. The very first track on this project Sir is settling in to embark on a journey to a destination trillions of miles away. His only companion? The ship’s computer AI which gives him constant updates as to the status of his trek, and right before take-off lets her passenger know that “shields are at 100%”. In the smoothly braggadocios manner with which this album is delivered, it might be easy to miss that perhaps the claims of “trading it all in for a Grammy” and being “gone” are a form of salve to protect the protagonist from the burn of unrequited love or heartbreak. A defense mechanism if there ever was one. Or what it could be is a recognition of the way love and relationship can distract and get one off track, so it is a way of letting himself know not to let anyone on board for this galactic journey because at this point in his life there is nothing more important than the work.
“Hopefully we’ll never see the sun”
The three-song arc from “That’s Alright” through “D’Evils” is the high mark. The point in the process of gorging oneself on dessert when the sugar hits your bloodstream, and you are elevated. It’s the first half of a night out, the lights are bright, the music is perfect, and you feel a heightened sense of euphoria surrounded by strangers basking in your glow. You might not be flying, but you’re floating. No surprise the instrumentation on these is the most jovial in nature. Drum arrangements that have the listener nodding like a Jay-Z meme or bobble head, are spliced with piano ditties that make you feel like one is riding down the 405 at 3 AM after a night of bliss. These arrangements make you believe, or at least hope, that this feeling of his will last forever. After running through this project a few times, you might begin to feel the sinister tendrils tickling the edge of your conscience. The listener becomes a pseudo-deity, understanding that either the artist is dense to the realities of life, or willfully blinding himself through certain pursuits. November in this manner becomes a musical nod to the Truman Show. In a way, we are all in on the joke, and only Sir has not realized It yet.
We can’t bathe in the lights forever
November feels like the story of an artist who has not yet found the ability to balance between pursuit of love and success in his music. From “War” to “Better,” Sir goes from pursuit of this woman, to languishing in the realization that she might not ever love him, and for all intents and purposes the fault is all his. There is always a descending slope on the other side of a peak. The candle, once lit, never stands tall as it did before. Leaving one resigned to a fate of pining for what is lost, hoping for the miracle of relief or an anchor to halt the indefinite floating of the abyss.
“My Sahara in the snow”
Though November is the work of a young artist, there is an obvious talent present to weave narrative in expert fashion, all while framed on a loom of minimalistic funkadelic production. An ability to draw the listener into a work exploring the folly of a one-track mind, is coupled with a voice reminiscent of a modernized James Brown (before you crucify the writer, listen to “Try Me” after listening to “Summer in November” and notice the parallels in their vocal makeup). “Summer in November” is the most impactful track (albeit not the best one as that honor goes to “Something Foreign”, thanks to Schoolboy Q), as it transports you to perhaps a future time where Sir has found the balance he has been searching for. Someone capable of melting the reclusive cold and bring warmth to his heart stone. Not a best of both worlds, as much as a best of all worlds, as they are a person who whether Sir is high or low, they are ever-present. This, a love like any other he has had before, is fiercely demanding of him and more importantly is long-suffering as a heart that can’t be tamed by winter.