As you may have heard, TDE finally unveiled the identity of their second mystery signing (aka “John Doe 2”): SiR. We hate to say we told you so...
A West Coast native with an angelic voice and a golden pen, SiR appears to be a perfect addition to the TDE family. He’s already worked with Jay Rock and Isaiah Rashad, and has the stamp of approval from Kendrick Lamar.
Like all of TDE’s most recent signings—SZA, Isaiah Rashad and Lance Skiiiwalker—SiR isn’t an established star. With only a handful of projects and dread-covered profile shots to his name, SiR is a bit of a mystery, and not just because of the whole “John Doe 2” stuff.
So, allow us to introduce you to SiR, who might just become your new favorite TDE artist.
Who is SiR?
“SiR” may not be the most SEO-friendly stage name, but believe it or not, it’s actually his real name. “Sir was a name my Grandmother blessed me with,” SiR—born Sir Darryl Farris—toldGreen Label. “She told me that the reason she named me Sir was so that when anybody meets me, they would always have to respect me.”
Born in Inglewood, California in 1986, SiR was introduced to music at a young age through the local church, where his mother has served as the minister of music for almost 30 years. Before that, she was once a backup singer for Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. That isn’t the only musical connection in the family: SiR’s uncle was Prince’s bassist and Chaka Khan’s musical director, while two of his older brothers, Daniel and Davion, wrote and produced Jaheim’s 2007 hit “Never.”
SiR describes his childhood as “easy” compared to other kids growing up in Inglewood, but with an older brother and uncle who were Paramount Crips, he wasn’t completely sheltered from the streets. “Part of the reason I didn’t go down that path is that I got to see [my brother] do it himself,” he toldThe FADER.
What was his journey in music?
Despite growing up in a musical family, SiR rejected his parents’ ambitions for him and instead had hoop dreams in high school. He eventually graduated from Los Angeles Film School and worked as a gym manager, but life beyond music proved to be a struggle for SiR. “I ended up moving to Hollywood, tripping out,” he toldLA Weekly. “I was on drugs, shit like that. I lost my job. I was out there struggling and almost out on the street.”
After moving back in with moms and witnessing his brothers’ success in the music industry, SiR got serious about music. He landed a job engineering for Tyrese in 2012 while quietly developing his craft as a songwriter. After meeting Dre and Vidal—the songwriting duo behind Usher’s “Caught Up” and Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies,” among others—SiR went on to pen songs for legends like Jill Scott, Anita Baker, Robert Glasper and Stevie Wonder, the latter of whom even rocked up to one of his rehearsal sessions.
"I was rehearsing with a friend of mine, and [Stevie Wonder] just so happened to walk into the rehearsal to see how it was going. He walked in and sat down and started playing and just sang and sang and didn’t nobody say shit. We didn’t say nothing. Nobody moved. Everybody just stopped moving and sat down and listened. Those are people, and moments, that you almost dream about in life. You never really see them or meet them or touch them, so to actually see them do what they’re known for — it’s priceless." (via The FADER)
Despite receiving royalty checks for his work with such famous names, SiR was still working full-time at Guitar Center until last month.
How many projects has he released?
Four, so far. SiR dropped his full-length debut Wooden Voodoo in 2012, followed by Long Live Dilla—a J Dilla tribute project featuring a mix of original Dilla beats and songs inspired by the late producer—in 2014. But it was 2015’s Seven Sundays which put SiR on the map and set the ball rolling for his solo career.
SiR’s most recent—and biggest—release is HER, the EP he quietly released as TDE’s “John Doe 2” last October. Inspired by his wife of seven years, Kelly-Ann, the six-song, soul-soaked set puts SiR’s special talents on full display: his dreamy vocals on “Cadillac Dreams” (which features Big K.R.I.T.); his ice cold funkiness on “Never Felt Anything That Good”; his exquisite, emotive songwriting on “All In My Head.”
For those playing catch up, the HER EP is the best place to start in SiR’s catalog. Be warned: it’ll put you in all the feels.
Who else has he collaborated with?
Beyond writing songs for Jill Scott, Anita Baker and Stevie Wonder, SiR has embedded himself in L.A.’s underground scene. Seven Sundays featured appearances from Anderson .Paak, Knxwledge and Iman Omari. He’s also appeared on projects by Warm Brew, Ill Camille and Joyce Wrice. Then, of course, there are SiR’s guest spots on Jay Rock’s 90059 and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade, which placed him in the TDE conversation before we even knew it. SiR even has ties across the pond, having lent his soothing voice to London rappers Little Simz and Jay Prince.
Who are his influences?
Raised on a rich diet of gospel, soul and hip-hop, SiR grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Music Soulchild, Jill Scott, Ginuwine and Missy Elliott. Despite his West Coast roots and love for Snoop Dogg, however, he cites Jay Z as one of his biggest influences. “My favorite rapper was Jay Z when I was growing up,” SiR toldXXL. “I was just attracted to [Jay Z’s] swagger like most people were."
“Jay Z just emits pure confidence. When you listen to him you feel like you’re him or close to it. It was just something that I just gravitated towards, I can’t explain why, especially being from the West Coast it may sound strange [laughs]. Reasonable Doubt was the first Jay Z I heard and I was hooked after that.”
Hence the song “JAY Z,” off Seven Sundays.
What does the future hold for SiR?
As popular as the label is, being signed to TDE doesn’t guarantee success. Ab-Soul and SZA have both expressed frustration over being lost in Top’s strict release schedule, while Lance Skiiiwalker (aka “John Doe 1”)’s debut album Introverted Intuition failed to make a significant splash.
Fortunately for SiR, warming the bench won’t be his first job as a TDE artist; his new project, the HER TOO EP, is set to arrive on February 10. The first single, “W$ Boi,” is a woozy West Coast anthem that’s been streamed around 115,000 times on YouTube, considerably more than Lance Skiiiwalker’s “Attraction” video, which has just over 80,000 views.
It certainly feels like there’s more excitement over SiR’s signing than there was with Lance’s—a more recognizable name? A bigger build-up to the announcement? Or simply put, better music?—but whether TDE can set SiR up for success (however you define that for a new artist’s first project) in the next three weeks remains to be seen. Clearly, one week wasn’t enough for Ab-Soul, who is obviously more popular than SiR.
Maybe becoming TDE’s next star isn’t what SiR is aiming for anyway. “This day and age it’s hard to live a private life when you’re trying to be in an industry where everyone likes to look at you,” he toldThe FADER. “I’m a more keep-to-myself type of guy.” Instead, it’s that humility—combined with his undeniable talent—that will endear him to both fans and peers alike (including Dr. Dre, Anderson .Paak and Terrace Martin), and what makes SiR such a perfect fit for TDE.
"I try not to set too many expectations," SiR tells us. "I just hope I don't let the TDE fans down. I was a fan before all of this, so I just wanna represent."
By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credits: Instagram