Top Dawg Entertainment has taken its first steps towards world domination this year, as SiR demands the spotlight with his newest album, “November.”
After already releasing two masterful EPs with the label, the 31-year-old singer from Inglewood, California, is proving to be more than a placeholder on a TDE roster brimming with star-studded talent. On “November,” Sir uses his own brand of artistic R&B to immerse the listener in a dream-like world.
The album begins with SiR speaking coolly to an intergalactic spaceship on “Gone.” The album sporadically features conversations between the two as they travel through space toward some unknown destination. In all honesty, I am not entirely sure how this concept relates to the music on “November,” but the interruptions do not take away from the listening experience.
“That’s Right” turns out to be the first real song of the album, and it becomes apparent early on that SiR is every bit as cool as he was on his previous EPs. SiR’s charismatic essence oozes from the track as he calmly sings about having a woman in the palm of his hands. The laidback production coupled with SiR’s soothing voice takes the edge off his harsh words when he proceeds to suggest he would trade the same woman for a shiny Grammy in his trophy case.
The clash between SiR’s bravado and his nonchalant nature creates an interesting dynamic on songs like “Never Home.” Here, SiR raps lackadaisically about the strains on his relationship over a mellow beat accompanied by a zealous xylophone that adds some bounce to the song. While he raps/sings in a manner that suggests he does not care, one can also sense how tired he has become with the situation. Here, his delivery shows both SiR’s attention to detail and his versatility.
Although a part of SiR’s allure stems from his confidence and his carefree spirit, “November” features a more tender and thoughtful SiR. “Something New” is a gorgeous song in which he and Etta Bond sing about the strength of their infallible relationship. “War” is equally moving, as SiR admits his own faults in an attempt to reunite with the woman he loves. Being able to shift between this caring side and his more aloof one while never deviating too far from who he is as an artist provides “November” with much-needed range.
The production does a great job of complementing the various moods without overshadowing SiR’s voice or lyrics. On “Something Foreign,” a piano produces a mental image of SiR sitting behind a grand piano in a dimly lit room while he talks slick about foreign women and vehicles. The contrast between the smooth sounds of the piano and Schoolboy Q’s aggressive approach produces a captivating verse. Despite SiR being relatively laidback and reserved for the majority of the project, the production does a great job of keeping the album from ever hitting a lull. “D’Evils,” produced by D.K. The Punisher, is driven by an almost unintelligible sample and drum that give the song a nice bounce.
“November” only has two features, but this is not a problem at all because SiR is so creative with his delivery that a string of songs featuring only him never becomes monotonous. However, those two featured artists play their parts perfectly. Schoolboy Q’s skills as an emcee are truly admirable as he continues to prove he can glide over any instrumental. Etta Bond’s sweet voice only graces our ears briefly on “Something New,” but its soothing effect is enchanting.
“November” is a well-executed debut album from the charismatic SiR. Though he takes some risks and experiments on songs like “I Know,” SiR never deviates too far from what defines him as an artist. It feels like SiR is only trending upwards.