"Our Spilt Milk" returns with another preview of Jidenna's upcoming album, Syd outside The Internet, and Real Estate's fluffy cloud guitar pop.
Jidenna’s set at Essence Festival 2016 was so impressive that as soon as I was out of the Dome, I found him on Spotify and listened to the six or eight songs he had released right away. He presents a very specific vision of black masculinity—cultured, stylish, rooted, and as at home in the street as in the boardroom. It’s central to his music, from his signature “Classic Man” to the brand new “The Let Out.” Jidenna announces, “He’s a Roger Moore nigga / I’m a Sean Connery” over an appropriately sexy stop/start groove, and the video depicts a night out with friends, one that starts at his parents’ house over dinner and ends when the cops break up the party, but they’re not the point. The texture of black life is everything in his videos, and the ensemble dance sequences in his videos are as compelling and celebratory as any associated with someone named Jackson.
So far, every new Jidenna song or video sidetracks me for a half-hour as I can’t help but check out a few others in the process—“Knickers” is a particular favorite. Fortunately, his long, long, long-promised debut album The Chief is due out Friday, so a deeper dive into his world will become easier. (Alex Rawls)
When Sydney Bennett was 14—still "Syd Tha Kyd,”—she hosted Odd Future’s first musical endeavors in her basement, contributing production and vocals on various tracks. In 2011, she put out Purple Naked Ladies, her first album with The Internet, a joint project with founding Odd Future member Matt Martians and a rotating cast of musicians. It was entirely unlike anything Odd Future had released in the past—jazzy, funky, and rarely crass. Since then, The Internet has put out two more albums, including the 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Urban Contemporary Album Ego Death. In 2015, Syd left Odd Future officially, although she claimed she hadn’t considered herself a member for years. As a gay woman, Syd was controversial in the LGBT community for associating with a group that put out blatantly homophobic and misogynistic music. Syd upheld that Odd Future was not in fact homophobic, just generally offensive, and that she had left because she felt alienated while on tour with the group.
At the beginning of this month, Syd released Fin, her highly anticipated first solo project. Syd is still working on new music with The Internet but the album is a triumph—a smooth, sensual ride from start to finish. Syd’s powerful, silky voice rides confidently over an impressive arsenal of beats (some of them produced by Bennett herself), alternatively seductive, braggadocios, sensitive, and insecure. At her most derivative, she sounds like The Weeknd or Chris Brown, but even in these moments, her nuance and sensitivity make her automatically less gross than the aforementioned cringy crooners.
In 2017, female rappers are almost commonplace in a once entirely patriarchal industry, but Syd is expanding and redefining the space. On “Got Her Own,” she flips the script on the tired Drake/J. Cole trope of men who love independent women, and later on “Smile More,” she weighs in ambiguously on the lights on vs. lights off sex debate. “Drown in It” and “Body” are two of the hottest baby-making jams of the year thus far, and she ends with “Insecurities,” on which she explores her ambivalence about leaving an ex-lover who treated her wrong. Rather than being an interim treat while we wait for The Internet’s next album, Fin stands alone as the first great project of Syd’s burgeoning solo career. (Raphael Helfand)
Almost three years after Real Estate’s last album Atlas, the band has released "Darling,” which sounds as if it were painted by the brush strokes of the late Bob Ross. It comes from the band’s upcoming album In Mind, due for March 17, and it thrives on utter simplicity. Some of their songs have no lyrics at all, and when I listen to Real Estate, my imagination is flooded with scenes of serenity such as sunny beaches, mountain ranges, and forests. “Darling" arouses the same senses. Its first minute and a half is instrumental, and when the lyrics start, lead singer and songwriter Martin Courtney notices the birds singing on his porch waiting for the warmth of the sun. Despite last year's loss of lead guitarist Matt Mondanile, Real Estate remains Real Estate. In an interview with NPR’s Bob Boilen, Courtney says that he is comfortable in his own niche of “guitar-based pop.”
Real Estate will play Republic April 6. (Ryan Knight)