Pink Siifu's 'GUMBO'!' Balances Its Many Flavours

BY Jonathan St. MichaelPublished Aug 12, 2021

Pink Siifu, born Livingston Matthews, has become an enigmatic and rising figure in the world of hip-hop. Siifu's approach to his craft is varied and explorative; while earlier releases revolved around jazzy production and nondescript raps, last year's explosive and culturally poignant NEGRO leaned heavily into its punk tendencies.

Siifu's latest release, GUMBO'!, sets its sights on new territory, tapping into elements of trap and exploring layers of Southern-styled neo-soul. Siifu's soundscapes are rich and eclectic, drawing influence from the likes of OutKast, Sun Ra and Bad Brains, and often redefine the boundaries that surround his music. Whatever style Siifu decides to dive into, he explores it without setting limitations. From the jazz-leaning raps of earlier releases to NEGRO's more abrasive sounds, Siifu's artistic approach is undeniably fresh. "I'm gonna try to make all of this shit before I die," Siifu stated in a recent Stereogum interview, " so I don't ever want n****s to get stale with this shit."

GUMBO'!, in its entirety, is far from stale, mixing soul-tinged melodies and jazz samples alongside Southern-influenced trap beats and bass-heavy production, the style flowing leisurely from murky instrumentals to soulful R&B tracks. With ease, Siifu swings and sways through deconstructed hip-hop and neo-soul to create a unique sound that exemplifies his unbridled approach to music.

On "SMILE (wit yo Gold)," lush guitar and warm percussion create a hazy backdrop of soul and funk, with Siifu's vocals crooning smoothly over the unhurried beat. Similarly, album opener "Gumbo'! 4 tha Folks, Hold On," which features the vocal talents of Liv.e, Nick Hakim, Big Rube and V.C.R, is rhythmic and subdued, wrapping the group's husky vocals with producer DJ Harrison's warped synth leads. While this neo-soul sound is present throughout the album, GUMBO'! bounces quickly between this style and heavier tracks like "Wayans Bros." and "Roscoe'!", which both sound like they could be cuts from NEGRO

While varied, the sounds on GUMBO'! don't feel out of place, but rather stand as an homage to the Southern mystique that surrounds Pink Siifu and the music he takes influence from. Overall, the album reflects Siifu's desire for creative growth and the freedom to approach his music without restriction. And although GUMBO'! does move with some inconsistency, Siifu nevertheless delivers a dynamic approach to his craft.
(Dynamite Hill)

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