Houston's history is dotted with albums that, fairly or not, have been swept aside. We'll examine them here. Have an album that you think nobody knows about but should? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SYDTHEMAN Singin' Rappin' & Cussin' (2011, Self-released)
Reigning Artist of the Week SYDTHEMAN is a 24-year-old singing, cussing, rapping person. His album, Singin' Cussin' & Rappin', is his debut. It is an emotional, markedly poignant, periodically poetic bundle of songs. There are spare parts on there that feel loose and unnecessary, but they are rare and easy to overlook.
More often are moments of brilliance, deft and complicated musicianship made to sound entirely reflexive and preordained. Consider it Houston's most surprising project of recent weeks, and the first to stare down Delo's Hood Politics Vol. 2, still the best underground rap album of 2011.
However, it's difficult to call SC&R a rap album, because, while there are parts on it where SYD does, in fact, rap, they are typically an adjunct piece of something grander. It just does soooo much so well, touching on funk, pop, jazz, doo-wop and more. SYD is much better at much of it than he is rapping, so you can't legitimately say this is a bona fide rap album.
Think on it like Kobe Bryant's three-point shooting: It's serviceable (34.5 percent career average), but clearly not the thing that makes him exceptional, and certainly not what you'd want him to lean on were the fate of the Earth tied to the result.
Normally, this is where a percentage is assigned to represent the likelihood that an album's name (and existence, really) will have some sort of lasting impact in someone's brain who listened to it in passing. But no score can be assigned this time. Here's what's up:
As it is, SYDTHEMAN is basically an unknown, and lots of times, that's reason enough for people to shamefully ignore a project (What, Lil Wayne ain't on there, bruh? That shit CAN'T go hard then! I ain't listenin'!). Were this is a typical album, it'd earn 99 or 98 percentage points.
But there is a song on here called "Getting On My Nerves," which is every bit as catchy and relatable as the title would imply, that possesses a not-altogether-unreasonable Onehitwonderability*. And should it catch fire and maybe become a super-smash single, SYD could very likely shoot into the cosmos of Internet stardom.
And in that case, it could possibly resonate loudly in the hallways of Houston rap history. Thus, it could shoot down to 20 or 30 percentage points (remember, the lower the percentage, the better).
Of course, there's also the possibility that even if it does take off, it could overshadow everything, even the actual album. To wit: Everyone knows that Afroman made "Because I Got High," right? Question: What's the name of the album** it's on?
No way to score this one.
*We're certain you can figure out what Onehitwonderability means. Because you have a very high Figurefakewordsoutability ranking.
**Don't go Google it and then leave a squinty-eyed comment like, "Oh, it was called X, right," trying to pretend like you knew what it was. Nobody's falling for that shit.
What You'll Figure Out On Your Own But We're Going To Tell You Anyway:
When he was 15, SYD's mother passed. And lots of the album, particularly the hyper-misogynistic parts, wind their way back to that fact. To that point, there are even parts where he states it specifically (From "Words Just Can't Explain It," which talks about how the death of his mother has affected his current love life: "I'm so sorry, lady, if I have a hard time coming around to you/ But you gotta understand the type of lady that I'm comparing you to").
Since we're here: There's one song, called "Don't You Do It," that explains the day of the loss in great detail. The song isn't especially catchy, but in it, there are two absolutely crushing moments:
First, while replaying the moment the doctor delivered the news, SYD, speaking for the doctor, runs his voice through a vocoder, making the voice sound especially machine-like. And if you're at all unfortunately familiar with that type of situation, you know that that's exactly what that shit sounds like when you hear it.
Second, the song ends with the standard, If I Could Have One More Thing To Say To Her moment, but rather than doing the whole, "I love you so much and appreciate everything you've done for me" bit, which typically implies acceptance of the situation, he shouts, "MAMA, PRETTY PLEASE DON'T TAKE YOUR LAST BREATH, MAMA!"
Best Song on the Album: "All I Need Is You"
There's a song on the album called "SYDTHEMAN Blues" that is actually back-alley jazz, that is concocted and executed with such deftness and artistry that you can make it through just about the entire song before you realize that he's talking about getting "sloppy, sloppy head."
The aforementioned "Words Just Can't Explain It" has enough pathos that, even in its most clichéd moments, makes you feel like you've been dropkicked you in the chest. There's a song that flips a Kanye song. There's a song that pokes at Beyonce's "Put a Ring On It."
There's a we're-in-this-shitty-world-together song with this extra fun line in it: "And I don't do a lot of stressin' and such, that's why my shoulders really hurt, cuz I be shruggin' so much." There's are a couple of doo-wop/Frankie Lymon-bent moments on a couple of separate songs, and a couple of genuine LOL music bits.
But none of them are better than gorgeous, feather-light "All I Need Is You," wherein SYD, in plan pat English, explains the only thing he'll ever need (You, duh) and completely sets free his moon-high, royal-blue falsetto. Listen to it all the way through. There's a bit at the end where he begins skatting that is sunlight bright.
It is a genuine contender for Houston Song of the Year.
Completely Generic Comparison: To be as lamely mediocre about describing SYD as possible: He is what happens if you take Devin the Dude's libido and mesh it with Erykah Badu's voice box.
Obscure Fact(s) You Can Pawn Off As Your Own To Make Yourself Look Smart:
Prior to this (and still kind of now), SYD performed (performs) singing covers of songs for whichever companies wanted to hire him to do such things.
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There's a video of SYD on Youtube singing "God Bless America" that was uploaded to two years ago. He's without a shirt in it, standing there singing to an upwards-facing camera, with a bunch of fake flowers behind him. Just like Irving Berlin dreamed when he wrote it.
SYDTHEMAN and his band perform 10 p.m. Friday at Reserve Lounge (723 Main).