Pink Siifu serves a soulful dish full of creative chaos
Oftentimes, it seems like artists are confined to having one genre brand them. If you make a certain kind of music that garners success, it’s obvious that you need to maintain that sound since it worked so well. Yet it’s artists like Pink Siifu that defy this unwritten rule. Instead of opting for the spacey and jazzy sounds from his early Bandcamp days, he is reaching for every genre and putting his own spin on it. Like the Southern dish its name is derived from, GUMBO’! is a big pot of different sounds and features that work well together.
Starting off the 18-track LP is “Gumbo’! 4 tha Folks, Hold On,” a gritty neo-soul production. The beat itself is calm, while the main vocals are creepy and sharp against the ear. “Roscoe’!” is a rough, almost punk production. The harsh sounds of the instrumentals allow for the fast-paced vocals to come off as smooth, providing a cool contrast. The calm boom-bap beat from “Fk U Mean/Hold me Dwn” is the first real switch-up genre-wise on the album. It opens up with speaking vocals saying, “I’m not saying I don’t go through anything. I’m not saying that, you know, the devil ain’t sit on my back, you know what I’m saying? But God is more present.” Mid-way, it introduces a spoken word aspect, and once the rap flow enters again, it’s just the piano and the vocals. This difference is calming and allows for the words being said to seep in.
“Bussin’ (Cold)’s” up-front hi-hats and bouncy drum pattern create a chill trap feel. Siifu’s flow sounds more melodic, almost becoming an instrument itself. Meanwhile, Turich Benjy’s verse is straightforward and bounces along with the drum. Going along with the same vibe sonically is “BACK’!.” It features the same elements but the synth drones out the beat, making it more cynical. Siifu’s flow dances with the drum pattern in perfect sync. “4sho’7” features Ahwlee and one of Siifu’s monikers, B. Cool-Aid. This track is different from the others sonically and doesn’t really fit in with a specific genre. Yet, it works well as it serves to mark the album into its halfway mark.
“Living Proof (Family)” is produced by The Alchemist. From the first note alone, you get the true essence of an Alchemist beat, and Siifu just flows over it with perfection. “Scurrrrd” starts off with a poem from Big Rube. With DJ Harrison on the production and Nick Hakim providing instrumentals, a jazzy and chill R&B beat comes out of it. Asal Hazel and Georgia Anne Muldrow give out powerful vocals and fill the track. It’s the best and prettiest off the album, with all the features being different; as individuals, they come together beautifully as if they were meant to work together. The power of Rube’s and Muldrow’s talent allowed for Siifu to be more confident in his vocals for the next track, “SMILE.” It’s as if the energy of the previous track was channeled into this one. Butcher Brown’s production and give it this chill, jazzy hip-hop beat that matches well with the vocals.
“Big Ole,” featuring BbyMutha, is a switch-up back to the bouncy production. It’s still very eerie and much more synth-heavy than the previous tracks were. BbyMutha hops on without missing a beat. Her flow is quick, but her words are clear. It’s cut off abruptly by a lofi R&B that comes in and out for a few seconds. This production is done so well; if the song is on repeat, it transitions well back to the beginning, which feels like a lost art now. “lng hair dnt care” was the first single for the project and is produced by Ted Kamal. The track goes from a watery lofi beat to a distortion as it switches mid-way through the song. Siifu’s vocals too become distorted and float along with the waves the beat makes before they eventually break down at the end.
It’s never an easy task trying to use such different sounds and make them cohesive. Yet, Pink Siifu was able to do it with ease. He’s using this skill to create his own genre in which he alone is the sole master of it. When asked about what he wants listeners to take away from the album, he says, “I don’t want you to group me in with nobody no more. I just want to separate myself from what niggass thought of me. I don’t want to be in any groups…I just want you to listen to this, and hopefully, be like, ‘Nah, Siifu his own cat. He’s on his own shit.’” Between the variety of sounds and big name features, Siifu’s GUMBO’! is a hit and further proves his ambition and confidence are taking him far.