If you haven't been clued into what Syd (real name Sydney Bennett) has been up to in the past few years, you've been sorely missing out. Syd's come-up has been noteworthy: after establishing herself as DJ and producer in the Odd Future camp, she quietly hustled with cohort Matt Martians to establish the Internet as the best R&B group folks were sleeping on — first with album Purple Naked Ladies in 2011, then the shimmering Feel Good in 2013, and the Grammy-nominated heater Ego Death last year.
With a "work hard, stay humble" musical approach, 2017 promises to be a key year career-wise for the 24-year-old. Fin is a breakout party for a Syd, who seems grateful for those who have been supportive but has a keen eye on taking things to the next level. She says as much on her "Nothing to Something" single: "You know I'm the truth / But you want to see the proof."
It's visible here. With a vocal delivery best described as nonchalant, Syd has a frothy singing approach, a breezy quiet storm feel that is deceptively substantial. "Shake Em Off" sets a simmering, chill mood and groove, while "Over" and "Dollar Bills," respectively, bring along 6lack and fellow Internet crew member Steve Lacy along for midtempo jams, and "Know" is an obvious Aaliyah homage, straight down to the '90s-style Timbaland production. "Nothing to Something" carries a Weeknd-esque pop-R&B-rap shiver — "My life is a movie, all I need is a Karrueche" — while the trappy, synth-heavy "All About Me" wears its sexual energy and effortless charisma like a badge of honour.
Fin serves as both introduction and transition. On her first solo effort, Syd recognizes that she's left exposed and in the spotlight, and goes all in; even though she teams up with "du jour" producers and collaborators such as Melo-X, Rakhi and Hit-Boy, she is the prime mover on this project, beats and lyrics-wise. She's been clear about the intent of this project as just a side-thing in her trademark "no big deal" manner, and she pretty much stays in the pocket here — feeling out the boundaries of the acid jazz, '90s soul and hip-hop parameters she's established for herself — but it's hardly limiting.
Exploring every inch of your world doesn't mean you aren't willing to take off for new horizons sometime in the future, and Fin — a mix of the Internet's experimentation and some added braggadocio — suggests she might be just about to. (Sony)