I slept on The Internet for far too long. To be clear, it was during a time when I wasn’t really checking for singers. My main motive then was finding and breaking new rappers. So last summer, when I heard Ego Death had come out, I planned on listening, but just never got around to it. Then one day, for whatever reason, I finally hit play.
I was pleasantly surprised—and then later, full on obsessed.
What drew me in initially was Syd’s voice. It was earnest in a way that wasn’t reflected in the trove of rap songs I reposted on my SoundCloud page, even after long nights spent sifting and lurking the streaming service for hidden gems. Ego Death had a vulnerability and rawness that was visceral and refreshing; it was like a splash of cold water on my face.
Today (October 4), via an interview with The FADER, The Internet revealed that they have a new album in the works, and it couldn’t come at a better time for me as both a writer and a fan. I have never felt more jaded about music than I do now. It’s something I’ve been saying ad nauseum to whoever will listen, but I haven’t dared say it online—for fear of what, I’m not sure.
Music is in a lull. There’s simply too much music to sift through, and—gasp!—everything sounds the same. It’s been difficult for me to recapture the same feeling I had when first hearing Saba powerfully spit over neo-soul rhythms on ComfortZone, or Smino’s St. Louis accent curl around the verses of “Smellin Like a Re-Up.”
A few days ago, I read a piece on MTV by Meaghan Garvey that perfectly encapsulated how I feel.
“As is often the risk when the thing you love becomes your job, writing about music professionally can really suck the joy out of things that should be joyful, if you let it. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the presently degraded sphere of online media, wherein careful or idiosyncratic work is mostly drowned out by a 24/7 log of every move of a rotating cast of 8 or 10 superstars, and having a biweekly take on the New Person You Have To Know About Now feels mandatory. At the risk of sounding like a gigantic, whiny baby, it sends me into a dull panic more often than I’d like to admit.”
I am that gigantic, whiny baby she’s referring to, especially as a person who’s staked a majority of her career on music discovery and emerging artists, and not on those eight or ten superstars who are on the tip of every outlet’s tongue. More than that, it feels like my beat is dying, and that is extremely heartbreaking.
The Internet’s new album won’t be a quick fix, but it’ll be solace and proof that there are still musicians making genuine, real ass music that people want to talk about. Looking back, Ego Death had a deeper impact on me than I realized at the time. It allowed me to introduce myself to, and appreciate, music outside of rap. Now my taste has certainly evolved: I look for more organic, melodic beats—for music that isn’t necessarily ‘conscious,’ but moves me because it’s saying or showing me, something important. It’s been difficult to find music that fits those exact criteria, which is probably another issue that has to do with my indifference.
I’m excited for the Internet’s new project, and equally excited for music to move past this current moment. There’s also comfort in knowing that I will never be forced to hear Syd’s voice so manipulated and so heavily Auto-Tuned that it’s barely recognizable. Because I'm over all that.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: The FADER/Gunner Stahl