This past weekend welcomed the month’s First Friday festivities, and, as usual, hundreds of Bay Area socialites came out to celebrate art, music and good vibes throughout downtown Oakland. One of the city’s very own arts and culture magazines, Wine & Bowties, brought Syd tha Kyd to The New Parish for what turned out to be a boogie-filled night of friendly faces and tasty beats.
The 20-year-old DJ and member of Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective Odd Future had just returned from a European tour with producer Matt Martians as R&B duo The Internet. Following the success of their velvety LP Purple Naked Ladies, Syd is still embracing the experimental and sounding better than ever. Taking the stage after performances from locals Trev Case and DJ Koslov, she played a multifaceted set that kept the crowd dancing from start to finish. Her setlist for the night ranged from jammers like Ludacris’ “Splash Waterfalls” and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You” to classics like Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and Kanye West’s “Paranoid.” Of course, it was still a hip-hop show, and we were still in Oakland, so the set was not complete without a little trap to keep it trill — Juicy J’s staple “Bandz A Make Her Dance” and Travis Porter’s rambunctious “Make It Rain” made their necessary appearances.
Syd showed us exactly why she’s come so far since her debut at Coachella two years ago. Just like her music, the artist we see on stage is composed, collected and comfortable with herself. Her stature is small, but her presence behind the turntables is utterly commanding. She has the ability to pull elements from a repertoire of works, smooth them over and give you an end product that is at once a reminder of the pop-electric funk of The Neptunes but is also a sound that is characteristically her own — and you’re undoubtedly intrigued.
When it comes down to it, the young artists of Odd Future, as well as “good kid” Kendrick Lamar and up-and-coming rapper Angel Haze, are pioneering a change in the industry. The boundaries of genres like rap and hip-hop are constantly being stretched and pulled in directions never thought possible because artists are creating original music curated by their own thirst for innovation and their ideas of what sounds good. At the same time, R&B is seeing a strong resurrection. The reissue of D’Angelo’s timeless Voodoo as well as the attention and success garnered by artists like The Weeknd and How to Dress Well inspire a new appreciation for the genre and interest in where its newfound potential lies. Artists like these are experimenting with tracks that have origins in R&B but also draw on electronic, funk, neo-soul and a variety of musical influences so that the boundaries of the genre are tested in the best ways possible. As for Syd tha Kyd, it seems The Internet’s second release is already in the works, so be on the lookout for another cosmic number — or something totally different.