SiR's Chasing Summer is as Unbound by Style as it is by Season
Evan Dale // Aug 31, 2019
There is an element of expectation when it comes to TDE. The West Coast hip-hop and R&B conglomerate is teetering on omnipotent in shallow company with Dreamville, running a certain spectrum of mainstream music that has never been given as much attention as the two powerhouses are now granting it. Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Schoolboy Q, and Isaiah Rashad are the label’s hardest-hitting names, but this year’s hardest-hitting album may have very well come in royal form. SiR is a laid-back figure whose music is every bit as grabbing of the limelight as his mystère ducks away from it. The Inglewood songwriter and vocalist is seldom under the public eye even as his music soundtrack’s the public’s most private romantic evenings. 2018’s November was his proper TDE debut. Driven by a sci-fi sub-plot, hyper-romantic R&B anthems, and hip-hop adjacent changes of pace, it introduced SiR as a name not to watch, but to fully embrace. His music carves a lane of its own – definitely drawing from hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul – but never coming to rest committed to any of them.
And his new album, Chasing Summer, is an exhibition of even further refined balance. With November, there was a daft grace period in its wake where its scope didn’t reach the audience it eventually would. It’s not the case with Chasing Summer. Maybe it’s because of the music – but that’s doubtful. November was a masterpiece. Chasing Summer is too, but SiR’s lane is now filled with fans primed for a sound as unique as his.
And truthfully, the uniqueness could begin and end with his voice. Even though SiR is surrounded by compositionally genius producers; even though he’s an evocative songwriter and an underrated rapper when he chooses to be, his presence is one of the more important ones in modern R&B and Neo-Soul. And his identity is most rooted in his voice’s timelessness. There is something reminiscent of soul and Motown in his auditory aesthetic that’s hard to explain without the words dreamy, floaty, or even hazy. It’s as if his voice is constantly being funneled through a cloud of top-shelf smoke, which isn’t too much of a stretch taking into account poetic descriptions that paint him as a sex-anthem stoner.
In coalescence with his abilities to change his pace and connect with world-renowned featuring artists across the stylistic spectrum, SiR’s Chasing Summer will be fit for any time of the year for years to come.
The list of guest appearances alone is overwhelming for his fans and a bit jealousy-inducing for any other artist in music. Kendrick Lamar’s presence on the album’s sole leading single, Hair Down is another addition to his canon as one of the best featuring rap acts in history. Smino continues his run as 2019’s most omnipresent force of flow on LA Lisa. Lil Wayne continues to be an authority on timeless hip-hop with Lucy’s Love. Zacari pulls his floaty sonic texture into Mood. But, SiR has always been a man of blissful romance, so his starry-eyed duets take the cake. Kadhja Bonet forms a timeless harmony with SiR in New Sky. So does Sabrina Claudio in That’s Why I Love You. So does Jill Scott in Still Blue. From top to bottom, Chasing Summer is an emotionally relatable sunset drive down the 101.
Concerning standouts on a standout album is always an unnecessary and nitpicky challenge, but Touch Down and Fire have the kind of warmth and ambiguous anthem identity fit not only for an R&B and Neo-Soul-heavy crowd but primed to dip deep into the mainstream. In a way similar to 2018’s D’Evils, the heady explorations of love and romantic detailing of marijuana smoke make both tracks particular warm-weather bangers, but even outside of sunny SoCal where SiR calls home, every track on the album has a legitimate chance of making it huge in the way that Hair Down already has.
As a whole, Chasing Summer is blessed with the truest mark of a TDE album: storyline. Each track is unquestionably bearing a proud identity, but together – although not as thorough and intensive as the interstellar storyline behind November – Chasing Summer comes together as a much more homegrown journey of love and life. Its tracks are, however, no simpler in their thematic discourse and musical composition. If anything, there are clear signs of growth in his artistry and confidence as a performer. Akin to November, SiR’s sophomore albumis a masterpiece that – unlike his debut when it was first released – is already blowing up the charts. And it deserves to. One of the most anticipated projects of the year, Chasing Summer still manages to exceed expectations.