Gone are the days where TDE was simply known as the premiere hip-hop collective, boasting a flawless lineup of potent lyricists such as Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, and Kendrick Lamar. 2017 saw the emergence of SZA as an R&B superstar on the strength of her debut album Ctrl, and now SiR is looking to follow in her footsteps with his own debut album, November.
Signed to the label in January 2017, the Inglewood-native's ensuing EP, Her Too, impressed with gentle cuts such as "The Canvas" and the Masego-assisted "Ooh Nah Nah," showing his budding superstar potential that attracted Top Dawg in the first place. November serves as another step forward for the promising talent, with relaxed, soft grooves tinged with elements of neo-soul that only improve with each listen.
"I'm moving through this movie like my life's duty is to live unruly," he croons on "Something Foreign," the lone single released ahead of the album. Featuring one of ScHoolboy Q's smoothest verses to date, the song simply irresistible, with jazzy piano keys that accentuate the background and create a hazy, soothing vibe.
SiR sings of the complexities of love with a surgeon's precision, detailing past transgressions and missed opportunities as well as genuine connections throughout November. "I found another life in London, it's true / I fell in love with the summer, fell in love with you" he sings at the beginning of "Something New," before revealing his desire for a deeper, intimate relationship. Etta Bond complements the songbird's lyrics with a tender verse of her own, and her voice floats alongside his on the chorus as they sing sweet nothings to their faithful companion.
As the album progresses, the storyline grows rockier, as SiR's career ambitions and affinity for the party lifestyle get in the way of a good love. "Ten missed calls, I fell asleep / dreaming like I ain't livin' one" he sings on "Never Home," with a playful cadence that wanders around the sloshing production. On the second verse he succumbs to his own interests and declares the need for space from his worried lover, with the connection frayed and the past sentiments having faded into oblivion.
Eventually SiR's heart gets the best of him, but only once it's too late; on "Better," he can only watch as the woman he still loves has found happiness in the arms of another. Here, the music that backs him is melancholy and twisted, echoing SiR's state of mind as he sings "She just wanted to love me, I wouldn't let her / Now she don't know me, cause somebody treating her better."
An automated female voice referred to only as "K" links the storyline together, reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest and Logic on some of their respective albums. "K" serves as his encouraging, comforting co-pilot throughout, updating him on the status of his journey and checking in on his mental state. Sensing his unhappiness following "Better," she presses play on a more uplifting instrumental, the mood of which continues into "Dreaming of Me" and "Summer in November" to end the album on a lighter note. SiR's breezy vocals are much more suited for beats of this style, as his voice and the accompanying production elevate each other to beautiful new heights. Still, the relatively moody stretch of songs in the middle of the album add fuller dimensions to the project, allowing for a complete journey and leaving the listener fulfilled after 32 minutes of run time.
After the topic of love, SiR's second favorite songwriting inspiration is the newly-legalized herbal essence, to which he dedicates the song "D'Evils." Sampling reggae singer Billie Boyo's 1982 hit "One Spliff a Day," SiR meshes together generations and genres with ease, while maintaining the airy atmosphere that permeates the album.
With November, SiR is off to a strong start to 2018, and is poised to make more noise this year as he travels the country in support of Miguel's War & Leisure tour. Give the latest impressive TDE release a listen through below, and keep him on your radar as an artist to watch as he climbs the R&B ranks.