When SiR celebrates, he goes hard. The recent LA release party for his laidback, trap-inflected R&B album Chasing Summer was marked by weed dispensaries, as much Hennessy as you could drink and fake aeroplanes so fans could join the “mile high club”; the smoking one, not the naked one, FYI. “We got fucked up for sure,” SiR explains a few weeks later, now fully recovered. “I stumbled offstage and before anybody could see me I threw up wild. Then my wife saw me and was like: ‘It’s time to go.’”
It’s about time that the artist born Sir Darryl Harris – his grandmother gave him “Sir” as a first name so people would always treat him with respect – let loose a little. As one of the hardest-working names in the Top Dawg Entertainment family, also home to the envelope-pushing likes of Kendrick Lamar and SZA, the 32-year-old SiR’s reflective, 90s-indebted sound is effortlessly chilled and his success not just well-deserved but a long time coming. Born into a musical family – his mother sang back-up for Chaka Khan and Tina Turner – his first passion was basketball, not the family industry. “Fifteen-year-old me did not want to damn do music, not at all!”
In his early 20s, he realised that he was actually skilled as a musician and started on a path that saw him climbing his way up from studio engineer to songwriter, working with artists such as Jill Scott, Ginuwine and even Stevie Wonder. “I was happy doing it, for sure, but I had too many songs that I liked that were going to waste,” he says. He finally tested the waters as a solo artist with his 2014 Long Live Dilla mixtape, where he sang sweet soul vocals over beats by the late hip-hop producer. Quickly scouted on SoundCloud, a deal with Top Dawg followed and he was able to leave his retail job at a guitar shop to fully focus on his own thing. His first album with Top Dawg came out in 2018, followed by this August’s Chasing Summer, which reunited him with Scott as well as pulling in guest spots from Lil Wayne and psychedelic neo-soul singer Kadhja Bonet.
As if to hammer home the point about his current wave of ubiquity, his single suddenly comes on the radio. “That’s crazy,” he chuckles over the sultry Hair Down, which features fast-flowing bars from labelmate Lamar. SiR describes it as the “perfect song for on the way to the club” and the slick video sees him coolly rolling through the streets of his native Inglewood in a classic car and a cloud of smoke.
“Music is my therapy,” he explains of his way with a smooth, gut-punching lyric. “I definitely write love songs but there are so many sides of [love] to tell. It’s not just: ‘I’m in love with you.’ It can be: ‘I hate you but I love you’, or, ‘I’m sick of loving you,’” he says. Let’s hope the sick remains contained within the emotional nuance of his songs, for the sake of his wife.