Photo Credit: Hal Ocasio
Meet Sy Ari Da Kid: the self-taught music producer, singer-songwriter, and rap artist that's pumped out a new record so drool-worthy and so caption-filled, you'll not only be bumping it on repeat all year long, but you'll also have a perfect stockpile of Instagram photo captions for all your selfie moments. After the Heartbreak, a 19-track devotion to the post breakup era, is a dramatic, and cinematic, display of a man that's just trying to make sense of what just went down.
Born in the Bronx, followed by a later upbringing in Atlanta, both cultures are deeply tied into Sy's musical artistry. He can spit rhymes like none other, often creating long and developed stanzas from the prompting of a single word or beat. His sound is heavily influenced by a mixture of R&B and rap, which some say can be traced back to Atlanta's most influential group - OutKast.
After the Heartbreak is a semi-unintentional follow-up to Sy's 2016 album entitled B4 the Heartbreak. The introduction track entitled "Before & After" is a skit featuring real people, real confessions and real conversations. In fact, much of the album is laced with these skits and interludes to close any gaps between the before and after storyline.
"No Relationship Advice" is the follow-up to track one - that dictation of advice that Sy so admittedly confesses his confusion towards. "Why am I single? Why am I waiting? Who have I dated? / I just can't write my wrongs." Immediately vibey, you can tell from the get that this is one album where every lyric counts. In fact, that's the goal: every lyric, every verse is to create a single standing declaration like the perfect caption for that captionless photo. Which leads us to his next track on the album, "Caption This." Mingling with app alerts, you might just think you've received a new like. It's a simplified track, again to highlight that witty lyricism Sy Ari so perfectly exemplifies - "Sittin’ here thinkin’ of a caption, maybe that’s a caption." With heavenly harmonies, subtle beat drops, and background guitar sizzles, you might just in fact find that caption you were looking for.
Later, "Bias" is a manifestation of pure romance. "You too fine to be anonymous, yeah / Girl, you ain’t gotta sin and you shouldn’t have to ask for a compliment," Sy gushes. Infused with a rap background, yet slowed to accommodate a smooth R&B tune, "Bias" finishes out with more of Sy's smooth and slightly ghostly harmonies inexplicably intertwined with a classically orchestrated piano ballad.
"Can’t let you play that backseat, get in the front, my love / On some cliche, nothing new under the sun, my love / Girl, I’m inspired, you on fire."
A lot of After the Heartbreak features intricate and flexed electric guitar sessions that add a unique depth to the record. Definitely vibe-worthy, this album is one you're not going to get away from. It's soaked in timelessness - a record that's so easy to relate to. Set aside some to time to stream this 19-track beaut of a record below:
We had the chance to sit down with Sy Ari Da Kid to get a behind-the-music look into his brand new album, After the Heartbreak. Check out what he had to say about it below:
OTW: You previously put out B4 the Heartbreak. Did you know that you were going to create a follow-up?
Sy Ari Da Kid: When I did the first one, yeah kind of - I had called it something else because I did three other heartbreak projects that weren't really in-depth stories. I was just trying like more melody stuff. So, you remember how Batman was a movie and then it turned - it was just like comic book sh*t [at first] - and then it turned into Batman Begins?
Sy Ari Da Kid: That's what B4 the Heartbreak is. So I was like, "Let me just stop doing a bunch of girl songs and let me make a story that's really authentic, that's really cinematic. I don't want to do anymore fake skits, anymore acting." I just wanted it to be real stories. Live stuff that you can only catch spontaneously, organically. That's what B4 the Heartbreak was. So this is the sequel to that and I kind of knew I was going to do it, but like I said the story had to come. It's not something that I could just create out the blue, even though I record pretty fast, but I wanted it to be personal. I wanted to kind of let it evolve from the first one, you know?
OTW: So it's your story?
Sy Ari Da Kid: Well, no, I'm not a huge fan of just doing something always directly for me, unless you hear me just dropping names about people that I'm dealing with. I do something called "casserole writing" which is basically like, I take the highlights from every situation… Say I had three girls that I loved and then we had a situation where every time we're about to eat, I know what I want to eat, but she doesn't. So I take the highlights from all three of those girls, cause if I can break down and create one or two verses or a hook from that, more people will relate to it. Cause every girl, every woman isn't the same - they have similar traits, but every woman is not exactly the same. So, if I can really take as many as I can - even other people's situations… Maybe my homie may say, "Man I wanted to eat pizza yesterday, but my girl was tripping." And I'll take that even. So it's not always just about me. And I like to go to that aspect of it to get everyone's perspective, you know? And that's pretty much what the album is for.
OTW: Do you have a favorite track from the album?
Sy Ari Da Kid: I'm not really huge on favorites.
OTW: You certainly have a lot of songs to choose from.
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yeah, because with these albums, you know the new format now is like - you know streaming - the songs are shorter, albums are shorter, and it's even better.
OTW: What do you think about this new trend of putting out longer albums?
Sy Ari Da Kid: I'm so huge on breaking rules. I don't want to do what everyone else is doing. And also, with the heartbreak project I'm not looking for it to be like - I'm not putting it out to make a hit record. If something's on it that happens like that, then cool. But, it's like a film. I want you to really tap into the story. It's a story from start to finish - every song blends into the next. All of the interludes and skits are very authentic, very real. I'm not having people go in there to twerk real quick and go to the club. It's really like an album you vibe out to and you go, "Damn this is really like something that I went through" and that's why you see 19 tracks on there, you know? That's really what it's for.
OTW: Can you tell us about your artwork?
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yes, so for this one actually to be honest about it, I had artwork before this.
OTW: Yeah, it's pretty different from your previous work.
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yeah my guy downtown - Antonio - he directs all of my videos, he was basically just like, "Yo we need to challenge ourselves more" and I'm huge on that word. When I hear "challenge" I'm like yo, I accept that challenge. He's like "Yo, we should get somebody who can paint from scratch. If you could think of this fantasy world or this dream world of what After the Heartbreak would be, what would it be?" And so I got this guy to do it. He's @smulkeyarts on Instagram, painted from scratch. I basically was just like, "Yo, [this is] how I want the world to be" and I wanted it to reflect the old artwork with like the girl in the foreshadowing in the grass and that's why you see a heart on there. And not like a play heart, like an actual heart bleeding, you know really damaged. You see the glass broken, fully shattered. And then you see a rose that's dead. You see the rose petals - there used to be romance, but it's been waiting for this unconditional love to blossom, but it just didn't. And that's the world that you see, it's all cracked up. And that's what I wanted - people to tap into the world of what they felt after the heartbreak - whether it was good or bad. And also with the artwork I want people to take what they felt from it. I've never dealt with an actual painting like that. There's only one, I've got it framed and everything. I remember this scene in Goodwill Hunting when there was a painting in Robin Williams' room and Matt Damon walked up to it and he was trying to assume why Robin Williams had the painting. Even though he was wrong, but his imagination took him there. And that's what I really want people to do with the painting. What I feel about the painting doesn't have to be what you feel about it. But it is from scratch and it is from a place of heartbreak.
OTW: When did you start writing and recording this album? Has it been a long time?
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yeah, because I don't force the date. The first date was February 15th. My marketing scheme was, when I did B4 the Heartbreak it [released] February 13th. It was the day before Valentine's Day. I was going to do the day after Valentine's Day, but I didn't have [After the Heartbreak] to where I wanted it. But it's still technically after Valentine's Day - it's the last day in February so it was almost kind of like too late. Anything after that would have been too much. I've been working on it for a little over a year, honestly. I didn't force anything, I didn't have sessions for it. I just did a song, had a concept, and then it took a lot longer for the skits. The skits took a little bit longer because I did something different this time. I didn't want to just do what the first one did. I wanted to involve the same people, but I had to wait for it because you know the woman that was on the first one, B.Simone, she's on Wild 'n Out and stuff now, doing a lot of stuff on social media and standup - we had got out of touch, but then we had organically spoke again. That's when I was like, "Okay this is the story." And I also involved some of the fans this time, so I had people send in voicemails and memos of drama. And I caught some of my homies that's on my team arguing - whether it's their wife, girl or ex. If I caught them arguing or was arguing in person, I would record it. Like two of them don't even know they're on the album right now.
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was big on that because I also took from the movie called America's Sweethearts. I don't know if you remember this, but John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Classic. What I took from that was the whole movie they were all actors and actresses, but the director had a script - he didn't like how the movie came out, which is how I did the album. I had it, but I was like "nah this is not it" and then the [America's Sweethearts] director ended up using all the drama from behind-the-scenes and at the end of the movie when he premiered it they were like, "Yo, we didn't know you did that" and some of them liked it, some of them didn't. And that's what I wanted and I got that idea from America's Sweethearts. It's got to come like that, you can't force nothing like that. You just document as much as you can and then you take the time to piece the story together and that's what I did.
OTW: Can you tell us about your feature selection?
Sy Ari Da Kid: I was very selective with my feature selective on this one. I wanted to work with people that - like Eric Bellinger to me, was kind of like - he's emerging kind of like how I was when I worked with Bryson [Tiller] on the last one. Like Bryson wasn't - I knew he was going to be big, he was already getting big at that time when I had a conversation with him before he popped off like that, but I just knew what he was going to be with his work ethic and his humbleness and how genius he is. When we did "Priorities" I recorded my part in the damn kitchen and I called him like, "You know I got this record, I don't think two dudes have done like a slow song like that together in a long time." Sent it to him and [he] hit it back in about 30 minutes. So I knew that he was like me. And then Eric Bellinger, I just respect what he's doing. I like what he's doing with his woman. I like what he's doing with his business. He's super humble, takes his craft seriously and I think it's his time. He did so much with the songwriting, I think it's time that he put that 100% toward his career and I think he's going to be really big this year. His team just moves really well and I wanted to work with him. And I got K Camp on there, Derez Deshon, they were like my homies from day one. I got Asiahn on there, she was on the Compton single - that Compton song that they put out for the movie, she was on the hook of that. But she's got a lot of history back when I met her at Akon's writing camp, so she was like another day one. She's dropping her album this year in April. She's going to be really big. Kissie Lee's on there - I think she's super dope. She's in Atlanta. Lewis [Sky] another big songwriter that's an artist now too. So it's a lot of us that I feel like are going to be on there that like people are gonna see in the next year or two. I've always had a skill of doing that. I've always kept a lot of those on there and I know we're all gonna be emerging this year. I didn't really want to go too deep into like finding all these big features of people that don't really rock with me. I can't find them for the video. I wanted to keep it like that.
OTW: Would you consider these artists your Ones To Watch artists or do you have others?
Sy Ari Da Kid: Yes, indeed.
OTW: Did you produce the album yourself?
Sy Ari Da Kid: I executive produced it, yeah. I produced a couple of records on there, but I got my in-house producers on there - TEAUXNY who produced the record with me on Travis Scott's last album, Birds in the Trap. That song with him and Bryson Tiller called "First Take," we did that record - he's on there. Natra Average and Dub the Prodigy are on there. They're also on XXXTentacion's last album that did really well. They did two records on there. illa Jones is on there - my other guy and so those are my four producers. They're all over it. They did the bulk of the album.