The importance of a name is never something to be taken lightly. At birth, the naming of a child is usually a painstaking process, and justifiably so. A name sticks with you for life, and will normally carry a deeper meaning than just an identifier amongst others. It isn’t just important to its owner, it holds worth for close friends and family members, especially for those who actually named you.
It’s the reason why Sir Darryl Farris, (SiR), had to rebuke Charlamagne Tha God for attempting to mock his name on ‘The Breakfast Club’. “The first time I went in there… I didn’t feel any type of respect. So the second time I went in, I wanted to make sure we established that straight away. It wasn’t anything against anybody but you don’t say someone’s government name, and joke about it. Where I’m from, we don’t play that shit. I wasn’t trying to be an aggressive person, because if I was trying to be aggressive, that would have gone a whole different way. But I definitely had to make a point on something so sensitive to my family. My name was given to me by my Grandmother, and she just passed away last year. So it could have been anyone sitting in that chair, the same thing would have happened. There’s no bad blood but at the same time, we have to establish that, so it doesn’t happen again. Next time I go up there, I bet you it will be peace… “
The energy he exudes is not stereotypical of an R&B singer. Soul artists are meant to be soft, serenading their listeners on love, heartbreak and every emotion in between. Whilst SiR fits that mould to an extent in his music, his Inglewood roots run deep within him. Respect pervaded his upbringing, and to this day is one of the pillars of SiR’s internal foundations. It was the reason his grandmother named him ‘Sir’, so that wherever he went, people would treat him with respect, and he in turn has passed on that message. “I speak about it on so many different levels… even with my nephews, I tell them respect is everything. It’s how I represent myself, it’s how I live my life.
Despite the gravity with which SiR treats his personal principles, on meeting him at Sony Music UK’s offices, I discover that he has a warm and playful nature. Posing for legendary photographer, Eddie Otchere, he’s in his element, vibing as he sang along to tracks from his third studio album, ‘Chasing Summer’, playing from the room’s built-in speakers. His emotive facial expressions as he harmonized reveal a deep satisfaction with what he has created.
In the eyes of SiR, ‘Chasing Summer’ not only maintains his standing amongst the current R&B elite, but is also a large step forward from his previous album, the futuristically themed, ‘November’. “I think on ‘November’, we were going for a particular sound, and we got it… but we still could have done a better job of making the sonics sound right. I felt on ‘Chasing Summer’, the musicality game stepped up, and lyrically we were going a little further, just pushing the envelope. On ‘November’, I took a couple of risks and they didn’t work out like I thought they would. But with this one we hit it on the nose. To create a straight line, where someone has to listen to it all the way through, it’s hard to pull off man. We took our time in putting the right songs in the right place… and we’re happy.”
I’m a grimy motherfucker! I smoke and drink and do what I want so… I don’t really think about the look too much… but I’m also very passionate about what I do.
With purposeful track structure, SiR chose to begin his album with ‘Hair Down’, a song that drips with confidence. Over cinematic chords and synths, lyrics like, “now I’m in the league bitch, now I’m in the lead bitch,” underline his ascension. His brash words are delivered in the smoothest of manners. If his lyrics were hummed, a listener would never guess that SiR was talking that kind of talk. It’s what makes him compelling for a listener; buttery vocals, but an image incongruent with R&B. “I’m a grimy motherfucker! I smoke and drink and do what I want so… I don’t really think about the look too much… but I’m also very passionate about what I do”.
Passion is a common trait amongst the uncommon artists that reside on the TDE roster. A cohesive unit of idiosyncrasy, they are the West Coast’s version of ‘The Avengers’. Steel sharpens steel, and having the calibre of artists around him, SiR has grown via encouragement and criticism. “I love tough love. I’m not afraid of someone saying, “that shit is wack!”, because I’ll be like “great! why?!” I’ll ask you what you mean, and I’ll expect you to be able to tell me why it’s wack. They give me reassurance that I’m making great decisions, and that I can keep making great decisions. They are all dope in their own right and have made their own individual stamps.
Surrounded by stars, SiR initially had difficulty in realising that he was one too. Growing into himself as an individual has been a difficult process, but he’s got to a point where his skin has thickened. Providing him with a list of high profile producers (which included OVO’s Boi-1da), that worked on his latest album, I quiz him on whether he had to conform to their way of working during the creative process.“Nope, nope”, SiR shakes his head, eyes closed, disinterested in the names of producers I’d just rattled off. “A lot of people look at it differently, but I don’t stress producers. I take what I like, and don’t give a shit until the end. We only start putting names on faces, on beats and stuff like that at the end. It’s never about the producer… it’s never about who makes the shit. I don’t give a fuck if you’re famous, or made beats all your life. It’s all about the body of work, it’s never about the individual piece, or one person. I can’t even say that I’m the most important piece to this album. There are so many contributors, that did so much, we’re nothing without each other.”
SiR’s emphasis on collaboration speaks volumes on his character. Although he is a solo singer, he is aware that only a joint effort can produce music of such high quality. He is not stirred by an artist’s level of notoriety, he is solely concerned with the intrinsic value of what he is hearing. Any fame associated with it is a happy byproduct, putting the art and not the artist on a pedestal. Curious as to whether he’s always viewed fame in this way, I ask him if that sentiment developed over time. “It’s just a change of perspective. I mean I can’t say that I’ve never been starstruck, like I remember the first few times I came around, Kendrick, he doesn’t even say nothing, but his energy is big. And the first time I met Jill Scott, she took over the whole room. Fifteen grown ass men were in the room, and she came in like “what’s brackin’, what y’all doing?! Y’all tryna smoke?!” When she went in there, she took over the whole shit. So you have those moments where you feel like a fly on a Louis Vuitton wall. You just gotta find your place, but after a while, there’s only so many times people can shock you.”
SiR goes on to comically tell me about artists he’d “lose his shit” over, prophesying that he’d “shed three tears” if he met Beyonce, and how he nearly cried on meeting Kelly Rowland. It’s clear that his affinity for women is strong, translating into irresistible chemistry with his female collaborators. A successful marriage of ten plus years attests to his ability in understanding women. That depth in connection is evident in his work, from the ethereal ‘Something New’ with Etta Bond, to the gorgeously crafted ‘New Sky’, featuring Kadhja Bonet. Depicting the events that led to meeting Bonet, he gushes over her as he reminisces over the first time he heard the dreamy ‘Honeycomb’. “I heard that shit and was like “ugh”, he swoons. “I lost my shit! I was just listening to that for a week. I had hit her online, like “hi, I love your music, ok bye”, and like left (laughs)…. But she responded. We connected in person working on some Anderson.Paak stuff, and have just stayed in touch. She actually came over to the crib to record the song… that’s super love.”
I’m from the place that people don’t go, but there’s loads of culture that people miss. My love for LA is different.
SiR almost has a childlike energy when speaking about his passion. Music is therapeutic for him, and “his greatest form of self expression”. Whilst he has heavily expressed one facet of his manifold inner being, his softer side, he feels on future projects it’s time to revisit where he came from. He acknowledges its perceived ruggedness; he wants to articulate his thoughts with more bite and aggression than previous work. Stories about his family, experiences and beloved LA will definitely make an appearance going forward. He knows the connotations associated of where he’s from, but wants to paint his home in a different light. “Normally when people come to LA, it’s to be a performing artist, but it’s so much more than that. I’m from the place that people don’t go, but there’s loads of culture that people miss. My love for LA is different. Being home hits different. Now that I’ve travelled, I’ve got a real appreciation for what we are. I feel like I’m representing my city, and LA. My LA show actually sold out. We put the tour up just the other day, and it sold out… it’s a big one too. One of the biggest ones I think. But yeah I’m LA born and bred baby… you want to get aggressive, we’ll talk some LA talk,” he says with joking snarl. “Love LA man…”
As we draw to a close, I ask the pertinent question of what SiR wants his legacy to be. He returns to the seriousness that he adopted when speaking on respect. “I just want everyone to listen to my music… and feel the same way they did when they first heard it. I think… everyone’s goal is to chase that nostalgia, and have something that… connects with people. And it’s really tough to do. But that’s why the great artists are great. Any time you play Stevie Wonder, it’s still going to hit the same. Any time you listen to ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, the shit is always gonna hit the fuckin’ same. I want to make music, when you put the shit on, doesn’t matter when I’m seventy or eighty years old, I want that shit to feel like you’re listening to it… in the moment. At that very moment, and that’s all that matters. I always talk about longevity, that’s my goal in all of this. That I’m respected enough to do this, until I decide that I don’t want to do it. But it’s all about longevity, that’s the game.”
‘Chasing Summer’ by SiR is out now on all streaming platforms.