Syd’s Solo Career

Artist explores personal relationships in new album

Rachel Boone, reporter

Despite being the voice behind Grammy-nominated R&B group The Internet, since 2011, as well as a former DJ for hip-hop collective Odd Future, 24-year-old contemporary songwriter Syd has made a name for herself as a solo artist within the past few months. For fans, the time between the announcement of her debut album “Fin” via Twitter at the end of 2016 and the album’s actual release was spent wondering which of Syd’s influences – rap, soul, R&B or even funk – would take the strongest hold on her debut, how her solo material would compare to her work in The Internet and whether her debut would allow her to make a name for herself in the mainstream.

Upon hearing “Fin” for the first time, it becomes apparent to listeners who are familiar with Syd’s work that her somewhat-extensive musical résumé played a part in creating a cohesive, smooth and successful solo debut. Internet-esque tracks such as opening track “Shake Em Off” provide the unique songwriting style and complexity that fans who are familiar with the group’s material are used to. However, even in the tracks that mirror her past work the greatest, Syd still manages to create a unique feeling of independence and confidence in her own material throughout the album. Despite the probability that Syd’s past projects have given her a greater boost in the songwriting field, “Fin” proves to be a piece of work all on its own.

After the initial release of singles “Body” and “All About Me” before the full album’s contents were revealed, Syd never received much attention from new audiences for her solo material, leading many to think that “Fin” would just be another indie R&B release. However, the album’s release gained enough attention almost instantly to make up for the singles being swept under the rug. The February 2 release saw acclaim from other musicians, such as Mac Miller and Pharrell, via social media. Upon its release, “Fin” has seen a variety of positive reviews across media and music publications, with reputable music sources such as Stereogum naming it Album Of The Week and The Guardian giving it four out of five stars.

Presenting itself as as a reflection of Syd’s view of herself and her place in relationships, “Fin” explores themes such as sexuality in tracks like in “Body,” fault and responsibility, as seen in “Insecurities,” and other diverse topics that Syd has had personal experience with. However, despite the complex subjects strewn across “Fin,” other elements, such as Syd’s airy vocals and casual lyrical structure, combined with production that mirrors that of her 90’s and 2000’s R&B influences, make the album an easy listen. The duration of “Fin” runs at a cool 37 minutes, containing catchy choruses and beat-infused hooks paired with features from other artists such as Internet companion Steve Lacy.

“Fin” has opened Syd to a new and wider audience who would not have been exposed to her material had she not branched to a solo career. In general, very few negative responses to “Fin” have been issued by pop culture outlets across the internet. However, even the most positive responses, such as Pitchfork, report that the album tends to be very casual and simplistic at times. Simplicity might make an album boring or repetitive in some cases, but in Syd’s situation, her cavalier vocals and lyrics only serve to strengthen her message: she’s independent, cool and capable, and she’s not interested in criticism from those who aren’t interested in watching her grow and succeed.

“Fin” serves as a testimony to love, independence, openness and intimate aspects of womanhood. Tracks such as “All About Me” explore Syd’s confidence in her personal abilities, while others, such as “Smile More” are slowed-down confessions of difficult relationships and finding love in hardship. Through “Fin,” Syd makes her voice heard in an industry where female artists are often grouped together, though there are more women in R&B now than ever. Her confidence is used as as a point of inspiration, both for herself within her songwriting process as well as for her listeners, as “Fin” creates an atmosphere of self-assurance that radiates from artist to audience.

Syd has been an important figure for young women in hip-hop and R&B since the beginning of her career, as a talented and capable woman with the freedom to express her personality, sexual orientation and personal style through her material however she chooses. “Fin” is a collection of confessions about love, whether it be directed towards oneself or a romantic interest, as well as strong belief in personal ability and self-improvement. The album is, in essence, an extension of the atmosphere Syd creates through her presence in modern music, art and culture, expressed in her own words.