Considering the way music is consumed in the digital age, our shrinking attention spans, people having less time between multiple jobs and an overabundance of self-released, self-promoted artists, it’s hard to choose who to pay valuable attention to. Finding and supporting local music has become at once easier and more difficult.
So, with an ever-ticking clock in the background, it is refreshing to listen to a release that stands alone as a piece of art that demands your attention. This is the feeling one gets when putting on SydeSho the Maestro.
The recently released solo EP from SydeSho, a member of The Funk Underground along with Eric Axelman, Moises Rogers, Kevin Rodriguez, Manny Brooks and Kat Joelle, sees the performer bringing new elements of himself to the local hip-hop scene. “I bring a unique, smooth, original element to the city,” SydeSho says. “The goal is to eventually create a sound that Providence is known for instead of borrowing sounds from outside of the city.”
With a nod to the slow jam-based, vintage hip-hop sound, SydeSho the Maestro is “more of a low frequency kind of vibe,” SydeSho says. “My goal for this project was to establish myself as a solo artist apart from my band, The Funk Underground, which has a very traditional funky, boom-bap style of sound. It was my chance to experiment and see what I could produce by myself.”
SydeSho points to the eight-song project as a means of letting people digest his music and words in a way that suits them. With The Funk Underground as SydeSho’s live outlet, SydeSho the Maestro was a chance to create music and let it live freely in a public space.
“The SydeSho The Maestro project wasn’t made for me to perform live,” SydeSho says. “I think complex lyrics and concepts are easier to capture on a recording. There is more time for people to process the information. When you perform live, it’s all about the energy you provide to the crowd and the journey you bring them on.”
SydeSho the Maestro is best listened to start to finish. There is a flow to the piece as a whole that allows certain lines to stand up and stick out. “Wake Up,” the perfect one-minute-and-30-second protest anthem for the 40-hour-a-week working human, leads into the far-reaching spaces of hope and struggle that dominate this EP, thoroughly and satisfyingly exploring ideas, concepts and the question “Are you ready for the changes?”
It’s clear from SydeSho’s lyrics that this EP is not just meant for entertainment. “To me, hip-hop is a culture, not just a genre of music,” he says. “It is a tool that can be used to unite the world and also be used as an alternative learning resource. I use hip-hop to educate youth in entrepreneurialism and how to uplift themselves in tough urban environments.”
SydeSho the Maestro is a necessary piece of local art that should be heard and understood. It is a piece of truth that speaks to Providence’s identity as an artistic community. “My main focus when I write is expressing truth,” SydeSho says. “So I take my time with the music instead of rushing the process, editing everything and anything that will make what I say more authentic.”