Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on an artist that we last visited in September of 2015. Lou Siffa, an indie hip hop performer that I lauded for his debut effort, ‘The Book of Lou Siffa,’ is now back with his brand new album: ‘Into Darkness.’ His creative production and lyricism were, and still are, some of the most compelling in the scene. Does the new record hold up to its predecessor? It’s a hefty collection, clocking in at fifteen songs. Thus, let’s explore seven of the tracks that exhibit the album nicely.
Now, Lou Siffa’s production was a high point of his last effort. Hence, I hopped into ‘Into Darkness’ hoping for something similar. I was provided lossless files - the quickest way to my heart. At over 1000 kbps each, these seven tracks exuded intensity and personality in my studio. Right off the bat, I must preface and suggest that you listen to these songs on the best quality audio set-up you have, whether that be headphones or a speaker system. This album is worthy of it.
‘American Psycho’ explodes in a cacophony of epicness. “Forgive me father, for I have sinned,” Lou Siffa croons across a landscape of sheer intensity. “You walked on water, but I can’t swim.” His elegant lyrical ability is back in full force, and I love that it’s still accentuated by dynamic production. ‘American Psycho’ is rooted in some philosophical and religious musings, something Lou Siffa seems to be utilizing as a beacon of hope amidst a society that, in some ways, has lost control.
One thing I loved about ‘The Book of Lou Siffa’ was its tactful use of samples. In ‘Die Bout It,’ he employs another fascinating, rather obscure one. The song opens with a recording of Malcolm X talking to FBI agents attempting to bribe him. Of course, Malcolm X instead gets deeply intellectual, arguing the era’s devaluation of the dollar wasn’t worth selling his soul over. (Or even if the dollar was increasing in value.) It’s a great introduction to a song that’s based in self-resolve and integrity.
The atmospheric ‘In My Own Lane’ is an interesting track, one that offers one of the better musical compositions of the album. The beats feel fresh and authentic, something Lou Siffa does very well - these aren’t recycled or default Garageband drum machines. (Yes, I do those kinds of beats all the time.) ‘Interstellar,’ for example, is a powerhouse that incorporates rock and roll into its construction. It’s completely masterful - a masterpiece of indie hip hop composition.
‘Into Darkness,’ the titular track, is cinematic - quite literally, employing sweeping synthesizers and string sections. It’s unspeakably epic. Is there a movie trailer that’s supposed to go along with this? Lou Siffa’s accusatory screams echo through the song as he questions those who don’t have a cause to live and die for. It’s arguably the pinnacle of the album, embodying the record's themes to a ridiculously intense degree.
‘Rage’ lives up to its namesake. It’s a call to arms against the police brutality and violence of the last couple years. “I renounce my citizenship; you don’t own my life,” Lou Siffa proclaims as he calls to his brothers and sisters to stand up for their lives and rights. With the increase of the Black Lives Matter movement alongside the never-ending news cycle of black Americans getting killed, ‘Rage’ comes at the right time to hit on a lot of powerful cylinders. The soulful ‘Where To Go’ actually compliments it quite well, balancing out the sonic palette.
Lou Siffa continues to be one of the kings of independent hip hop. These seven tracks are indicative of another album chock-full of terrific work. The record is very much worth grabbing when it drops this Saturday, July 16.