Love is both very complicated and very simple. One day, it might be organizing a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt throughout New York City. Another, it’s staring at your hands, searching for the answers you couldn't come up with during that phone argument. Countless artists have taken us on a journey across this spectrum before, but few have made the leap quite like SiR.
The first time I heard SiR was in 2015, his vocals were bouncing on the hook for Jay Rock’s “The Ways.” His contribution to the record is a simple and generic four-line hook, but his voice grabbed my ears: smooth and confident, but distant, like he’d grown tired of popping bottles in the club.
Since then, SiR has released two sweet-natured EPs—Her in 2016 and Her Too the following year—which teased glimpses of subdued greatness. Naturally, I was excited to see how his sultry energy could translate to a full-length album.
November is SiR flexing his growing R&B skill set within the confines of a three-act sci-fi love story. The Los Angeles native begins his story reminiscing about love on a spaceship headed for... somewhere. A computer named K is the narrator throughline, checking in on SiR as he relives the rise and fall of one relationship and the beginning of another. He brags about hooking up with a woman whose friends suspect that he’ll “leave her for a GRAMMY” while acknowledging the fight to keep his ego at bay.
He loses the fight; his November is more melancholy than most.
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While on tour, SiR blows her off, and so she leaves for greener pastures. After a while, though, his grief is too much to handle. He asks K to delete the memories, a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The plan is to take those lessons into his next relationship, which feels, for all intents and purposes, like “Summer In November.”
There's a lot of material stuffed into 11 tracks over a 35-minute runtime, but November makes good use of its overhead compartments. SiR holds his own in sing-song lockstep with ScHoolboy Q on “Something Foreign” and a brief foray into Auto-Tuned trap on “I Know.” The music smolders with soul and R&B flavors, a friendly reminder that SiR has written songs with Anita Baker, Jill Scott and Stevie Wonder.
Assists from DJ Khalil, D.K. The Punisher, J.LBS and others bring snappy boom bap drums, fluttering piano keys and cavernous bass to amplify the emotional textures as SiR (re)lives his love life. Our willingness as an audience to follow him from his shiftiest to his most vulnerable and tender and back again is a testament to his storytelling. After several listens, I begrudgingly knew I would take back this happily married man.
November is a thoughtful trip through the happy and sad pit stops of love and an impressive next step in SiR’s tenure at TDE. He doesn’t reach whatever is awaiting him at the end of the universe, but here’s hoping that this leads him to that better tomorrow.
Three Standout Tracks:
“That’s Alright” (prod. J.LBS)
I have a soft spot in my heart for R&B sung over hard-nosed boom bap. Frequent TDE collaborator J.LBS brings the clank and the thump to the first Ain’t Shit Dude anthem of 2018 as SiR waxes about his new lady friend and pissing off her homegirls (“All her little friends can’t stand me / 'Cause they know I would trade her love for a GRAMMY”). Their romance is about as fast and loose as the beat, but when it’s this steamy, does anyone care?
“D’Evils” (prod. D.K. The Punisher)
No song about living life in slow motion should be shorter than three minutes. This song exists outside the context of the story, a general ode to good times that we wish could last forever. It’s also a stone-cold vibe. “Baby I’m not flyin’ but I’m floatin’” SiR sings while he dances on D.K. The Punisher’s crunchy bed of drum and bass. I’m just gonna float through here for a while, then.
“Better” (prod. SiR & DJ Khalil)
With the high from new love having worn off two songs ago, SiR is holding the shards of his old relationship in his hands as he finally sees the love he took for granted. “Now she don’t know me / 'Cause somebody’s treating her better” he croons into a crystalline void of his own creation. The chandelier of a beat shimmers but feels brittle, like his emotional state. If the drums were pitched any lower, everything would collapse. He can’t bear to stare down his grief and wrongdoing, so he deletes the memory and loses himself in a much peppier DJ Khalil production.