On the 26th of October SiR, the acclaimed American singer, songwriter and record producer performed at Victoria Yards, Johannesburg. Jäger Artist, 2Lee Stark, was there to have a casual conversation with him for After Dark.
It’s 8 PM on Friday night and I am in a panic. Usually around this time, I am calling Roli, my manager, shouting at him about us being late. Today though, I can only shout at three ladies who have been kind enough to take leave of the house party and accompany me to one of the coolest moments in my life. Naturally, I would be rolling with them because, well, isn’t that what you do when you get to interview one of the smoothest artists in the world?
As I jokingly say “You know I’m a big deal right?”, it dawns on me that SiR is a very big deal and I was about to get the opportunity to pick his brain about anything I wanted. Having listened to his music, after being influenced by my good friend Dash, who ironically happens to be part of SiR’s official photography slash friend slash “you doing what I’m doing because we friends now” crew. I thought this would be a great time to really find out about the musical journey of TDE’s RnB wonder kid. Considering he had written for greats like Tyrese and Jill Scott, to name a few, this was the perfect “teachable moment” for an aspiring artist like me. As soon as the interview started, all the stuff I prepared flew out the window. Forget the reporter talk, I wanted to know what this guy’s favourite movie was. I mean, when else was I ever going to be able to ask a star in the making about that?
We were in the waiting room and, being the gentleman that he is, he stands up and greets me. Now, considering I have the last two minutes before he goes on stage, he seemed like he had all the time in the world for me.
I try to make this all worth his while and make him feel at ease about being rushed by some randy with questions before his first show in South Africa: “Wassup bro, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m 2Lee Stark from the Jägermeister music programme and the brand has afforded me the opportunity to interview you for a bit. I hope you don’t mind”?
His response is drowned out by the MC’s “ARE YOU READY FOR SiR” so I quickly squeeze the “Welcome to Africa” in. His response was surprisingly pleasant and almost warm: “I think it’s beautiful, coming from a place with so many similarities, and it’s a lot more black out here”. The frank and genuine response made me pause for a second to appreciate our country and just how free we are as South Africans. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a minority in a country and I just could not. You could hear it really felt like a sort of “home” because of how open South Africa had been to him since he landed.
This became the segue into his role in the American community, and the world moreover, regarding his role in educating through his music about the socio-political climate for black people. He then dissected his outlook on how he’s using his platform to effect positive change. “In my neighbourhood of Inglewood, there is so much separation. Blacks don’t like blacks, there are gangs and territorial wars, so it is important for someone like me to bring us together. When I leave home especially, I got to represent”.
This statement resonated wholly with what we as South Africans needed through our fallen icons, like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela in the struggle against Apartheid. The role of music in our country has, like SiR is doing now for his country, always been at the forefront of reporting what life is like on the streets, as it is lived and not as it is shown on broadcast media.
This brought up the interesting nuances we saw in his record label mate Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, where references from the mega star’s visit to South Africa for a concert found their way onto the critically acclaimed LP. SiR then mentioned that like Kendrick, he would definitely be using his experiences here to perhaps add to his upcoming project, even though it was already finished. I had to ask the typical journo question of “When is it coming out?” and managed to squeeze him for a confirmation of the month of January for the release. Before I could dig any more into the new project, a towering figure signalled that my short but very interesting time was up. In the true spirit of the stag, I ignored this.
I did quickly find out about his passion for writing and with movies in particular – as a movie buff, I asked about what his imaginary title for his screenplay with Martin Scorsese would be and he comfortably answered by saying “The Writes of Passage”. He then added that he had already started writing this movie. This served to further substantiate the writing abilities that the world has praised him for beyond just the music.
I got a second, more intimidating look from the gentleman that had pleasantly warned me about thirty seconds ago regarding SiR’s time. This time, I totally got the message and thanked the Inglewood native for taking the time to chop it up with me. He thanked me for the interview and then got back into his zone for the show.
As an up and coming artist, I think I learned a lot about myself and how I should be treating the people around me who take an interest in my career. This interview became a bit of a pseudo-masterclass on being in the limelight and still being cool. Along with that, I also got to reflect on the importance of spreading the right message through music even though you have your own story to tell and how our issues in life are not as far away as the sea makes them out to be. It really was a dope interview and I’ll be looking forward to the new SiR offering with a bit more anticipation, listening for my shoutout on the coming album.
Images by Alet Pretorius
The event was brought to you by Flying Fish and presented with Alchemy SA.