From Experimental Oddity to Grassroots Traditionalism, Pink Siifu Shines with ensley, a Modern Masterpiece of the Southern Soundscape
Evan Dale // Jul 27, 2018
The next hour of free time you have should be spent doing one thing – listening to Pink Siifu’s project, ensley. Sit in your favorite chair, lay down on your fluffiest shag carpet, or do whatever it takes to find some non-fidgety comfort, turn on the project, and simply listen. Only available on SoundCloud and released as one, conglomerate, run-on track, ensley is bold and wise in ways modern hip-hop – modern music in general – almost always fails to be. Per its form, it is meant to be listened to in whole, quickly dipping you into its artistic consciousness, and slowly enveloping you with the deep conceptual weight of a poet’s mind through the perfectly transparent magnifying glass of hip-hop.
Consistency is present throughout, never deterring from its non-replicable formula: stirring lyricism, understated delivery, heartfelt thematics, and elevator jazz instrumentation, granting in its entirety, ensley a deeply-rooted sense of storytelling and continuity. Yet, in spite of its at times heavy message and low-key vibes, it doesn’t lose a step in its effort as a masterpiece of the Southside tradition.
As understated, at times even muffled, as ensley’s approach comes across, it always carries with it a daring and robust understanding of lyrical penmanship, most favorable perhaps in the Birmingham Skies cut of the project. Towards its lyricism, if the complimentary and balanced production were not to exist or were to fall to the backdrop, the poetry of it all might be too much for any conscious mind to manage in full.
In fact, it’s difficult to listen and not let one’s own consciousness bob and weave between dedicated interpretation and subconscious daydreaming, leaving each listen to the project a newly struck goldmine of pattern and meaning. And in that vast breadth of its complexity, it reveals itself as impossibly genius in what seems at surface level to be such a subtle, ethereal undertaking. ensley is, in its very essence, a work of balance.
Balance between its lyrical endowment, the offsetting white space of its production, and its thorough and thoughtful interlude points. Balance between Southern hip-hop’s past, present, and future where lyricism meets heavy, bouncy production, where unedited vocals at times meet chopped & skrewed cuts. Balance between track and project where meaning can be unearthed in whole or at individual points. Balance between its very balance, never giving way to any one of its elements to a point of too much focus, leaving one’s mind split between being wholly conscious or wholly sub-so.
Art’s very purpose is to evoke thought, conversation, and through it all, a differentiating interpretation of meaning. The fact that Pink Siifu can keep that stream of consciousness and interpretative thought alive for an hour of experimentation, and derive, through each subsequent session, new meaning, is what is most impressive about ensley by artistic standards.
What is so impressive about it specifically relating to music is that ensley is something of a lost tradition. Pink Siifu is an artist speaking his mind, bleeding his heart in harmony with and combatting against the accompanying production. It feels old school, traditional, antique. Yet, it also feels boldly modern, borderline futurist.
In a musical epoch where styles are converging and genrefication is dying, Pink Siifu, ensley are genuine, unapologetic hip-hop, but somehow in a way that no one, that no project, have ever really been. It’s difficult to relate it to any particular project of the past, or any particular style, but it remains reminiscent of music’s history and finds itself built on the eternal pillars of lyricism and story. It’s relatable, but more than anything, its new, bold, and brightly creative, using hip-hop’s past to give way to a more well-rounded musical future.
Pink Siifu does only positives and delivers only greatness to the name of Birmingham music, leaving ensley an innovative and with time, greatly influential piece to the greater Southern soundscape.