We all know religiously strict families birth the worst rebels. This cross-cultured fact has become the creative fingerprint of Sir the Baptist and the inescapable thought of religion worldwide explains why this is an emerging artist with a universal market. Sir the Baptist is an Indie American Renaissance Artist noted as "one of the chosen ones" by Universal Music. If 2Pac was our first urban Prophet, he's our first glimpse at an urban hymnist with that same ghetto gospel.
In the 1950's Ray Charles was rebuked by the church for bringing gospel music to the secular/pop world with hit song "I Got a Woman"; well Sir is the second coming of that twisted faith. He's a game-changing fusion of the secular and sacred – with a message that's refreshingly progressive, delightfully innovative, and sometimes unapologetically necessary for today's sociopolitical climate. Nevertheless he's the best of hiphop aggressiveness, just with a crooner's effortless charm that paints the provoking imagery of a sinner who juggles desire for salvation and plotted bad habits. The centuries spent branding religion makes his target easy and effortless...and occasionally comedic, as seen in the renowned "Book of Mormon" on Broadway, and at other times as serious and thought provoking as the hellfire preaching in his upbringings.
Sir the Baptist, legally William James Stokes, was born at the gateway of Jazz Heaven Bronzeville on the near South Side of Chicago. Sir's parents were Christian Apologist Dr. James Benton and Mission Ambassador Patricia Ann. The mystique of his artistry is connected to the memories of his father's sermons and the Chicago crime and drug infested ghetto. However, Bronzeville's culture was a rich musical community with a historic legacy of jazz and soul. His neighbors' residue was his inspiration. Ella Fitzgerald played there often. So did Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole along with countless others; their Bronzeville homes have been reserved as historical landmarks. Sir also grew up down the street from the legendary Sunset Cafe jazz club, one of the most important Jazz clubs in American history. Even though it has since closed it's doors and was converted into Ace Hardware, the current ownership has committed to turn it back into a home for live music when Sir achieves national recognition. His upbringings and unquestioned talent from an early age made Sir a peerless musical genius.
Ready for a new genre? When asked what genre is his music, Sir says "Church Pub Rap," it’s Art Tatum boogie woogin' on an old upright piano in a small tavern with a choir and Andre 3000 or 2Pac at the mic. Although this isn't him being remotely creative, he has recorded with towering Steinway Composer Lee Musiker; who produced the likes of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra Jr. This type of diversity has him leaving the studio with a Sinatra to recording "Familiar" with Chance the Rapper on Surf alongside King Louie and Quavo of Migos. But also performing in finales with the Joffrey Ballet or taking that same 8piece horn section to RAGE venues with Travis Scott at Chicago's renowned venue "Metro." Pitchfork features for his trap production collective, to scoring a Hollywood box office film "Dysfunctional Friends" now featured on Redbox, Netflix and an extended version of the movie theme also made it to the upcoming Sir debut "PK" Album. Genuinely genius. One way to corner this guy is to say this is "contemporary ghetto gospel" and rated as "one of thee most diverse records of the year" by Grammy Governor and multiplatinum artists representative Daryl Jones.
I sat there in Soundscape Studios as he recorded a few lines of gibberish, hums a melody and then he stops... thinks and then repeats. Suddenly there's silence and the witty charming lines that can be taken as thought provoking (or simply blasphemous) fall out the sky. It’s reminiscent of Jay Z's "Black Album" experience. There's a heavy atmosphere and chills stampedes. I feel like I'm experiencing a movie in real time or maybe it's the movie-ish string quartet in the booth.
After hearing the complete album, I can't help but to believe he's it, converted... It's what we prayed for. "PK" will be hailed as a masterpiece. Modern brilliance. The Sound; Retro as the modern orchestra seamlessly embodying urban sophistication while dancing around a unique voice that often split genres alternating from a Chicago Native "Chance talk/sing" to sometimes grainy as his next door neighbor Louis Armstrong. Topics? Timelessly provocative, and extremely effortless. Sometimes provocatively preachy, sometimes rebel and sinful and even moments of sexual bluntness that will push back the wig of your churchy grandma. His jazzy influences rest in the scats, slung under syllables, the grace, the natural real life moments captured as if it's not prepared, the playful pillow talk and teasing pleasures of lines on "Sapiosexual" which is arguably compared to Andre's "Prototype." At the end of that record he's talking to chemistry as naturally as if he's not recording. His ability to depict vivid scenery separates him with leverage aligning each vocal interpretation to the plot. The collection of it all marks him as a major artists and just maybe the pioneer of something new. The modern savior of crooning is here.