Independent artist Syo provides a breath of fresh air in a sea of gimmicky Tik Tok tracks, bravado-driven trap music, and garbled autotune. Senioritis, the Alief, TX native’s EP, is a 6-track album. It features seamless transitions from rapping to singing to spoken word. It also includes meticulous attention to detail on both the musical and post-production sides.
When describing his sound, Syo states “My sound is more of a world…” He goes on to say:
“It’s a state I put the listener in with an R&B atmosphere, an ocean full of neo-soul and blues, that is grounded in hip hop. More important than the sound, at least in my eyes is the words I’m saying. I want you to understand what’s going on in my mind as clearly as possible whether it’s self-reflection, doubt, joy, or just some slightly ratchet shit. But I want you to understand, and hope that you can relate.”
SYO was born and raised in a Nigerian household in Houston. Unfortunately, his artistic expression was discouraged by generations before him. Traditionally,
self-exploration or the trend of escaping into music wasn’t supported.
However, his roots did not deter him from pursuing a career in art that would allow him to fully express his talents. His debut EP, Senioritis, is a project that highlights his lyricism while allowing his imagination to speak for itself.
His lead singles off the project titled, “freshman” (stylized lowercase) showcases Syo oscillating between being unsure of himself in a new world and being overconfident. The singer/rapper bounces from “do you wanna be alright? I’m alright, imma fight baby” in the hook to lyrics like “Oh little to cocky, swear that a n**** can’t stop me.”
Over a soulful instrumental with wavy backup singing from Joy Green, Syo combines these mixed emotions. Perfectly capturing what freshman year of college is all about.
“I want to create [a] world, an experience for the listener and just immerse them in it,” Syo said.
The next track on the playlist is “sophomore boy,” a faster-paced track punctuated by jazzy trumpet notes. On this track, Syo is more solemn. Describing the young artist’s struggle with depression and the loss of friends and lovers.
In a spoken-word interlude at the end of the track, he says: “I finally realized people don’t really miss me they miss the idea of me and that was a tough lesson.”
As promised, “junior year blues” features sappy, blues-style singing. The track peels back the layers to expose Syo’s musical influences, such as Sade, Erykah Badu, and Janelle Monae. On the hand, the talent’s fourth track, “senoritis” taps into Syo’s rap influences, Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, and Lauryn Hill. In a way he uses different inflections and flows to emphasize his lyrics.
Syo finishes off his sadder songs with “gradu8”, a bass-heavy track. The reflective mood is emphasized by lyrics such as “I thought a n**** graduated, sad to say it.”
To wrap up the project, on an energetic note with his track titled, “don’t let the soul fool you.” Featuring frenetic piano keys in the intro, and lively, up-tempo flows. Including shimmering bells and whistles, and a beat switch that demonstrates Syo’s raw talent.
At the end of the day, Syo’s music is utilized just for what he aspired for it to do. The music gives him an outlet to vent as well as relatable content for his listeners.
“When I need to feel understood there is music that I can listen to that makes me feel understood…” he stated.