Credit: Shane Joshua Smith

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When Myles Andrews-Duve gets this bread, all the homies are gettin therapy.

In deep thought, Pink Siifu leans back in his chair. The sun is beginning to set, beaming directly into the frames of his black Oakley shades, as he looks skyward from the back porch of his Culver City AirBnB. I’ve just asked him how he wants to be remembered and he’s currently searching for the right words. He faintly repeats the question aloud to himself while bringing a light to his spliff, as if to buy time before landing on the perfect answer.

It’s the rare question that stumps him. More often than not, Siifu’s words roll artfully off the tongue, usually in the form of long-winded streams of thought. Answers that swerve right, then left, but leave you hooked for what lies around the corner. But right now, as the sky is beginning to turn on an idyllic Saturday afternoon in west Los Angeles, Siifu briefly ponders mortality and legacy.

“I want to be remembered for studying above all else,” he finally answers, pausing momentarily to allow that thought to sit in the air. “I’m super technical with where my discography is going, because I ultimately know what I want to present.”

You see, Siifu, real name Livingston Matthews, is very conscious of time. Not necessarily its inevitability, but more what he can leave behind. The rapper and multidisciplinary artist considers his records as “timepieces” — relics that can enrich generations to come. “I feel like the babies I make, the children of my music, they going to go crazy,” he quips.

The result has been releasing a collection of work at a breakneck pace, with each project reflecting a unique creative turn, if not an entirely new artistic persona.

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Choose your adventure: Siifu, as iiye, the elusive loop chopper and beatmaker. The passionate lo-fi rapping poet and storyteller on ensley. Siifu, as a woozy, narcotized vocalist under his South Texas rap outfit, Kryptonyte, alongside Dallas rapper Lord Byron. The cooled-out record shop owner on FlySiifu’s. Or the riotous Black punk artist on NEGRO!, his sharpest left turn artistically – aptly channeling the repressed rage of Black America during the 2020 uprising.

Matthews’ music weaves a web between various pillars of neo-soul, afrofuturist jazz, and hip-hop — D’Angelo, Badu, Goodie Mob, Sun Ra, Ras G — making for a sound that is ostensibly some of the Blackest shit you’ll ever hear.

“When I first named myself Pink Siifu, I thought of an artist you would see at a festival and be like, ‘Pink Siifu? The f*ck?’ Go there and it’s all these different genres,” he tells me like he’s painting a picture. “I’ll make a punk track tomorrow, a rap track, and a jazz track in the same week. But it’s intentional where it’s getting placed at.”

While he is prone to take detours, you can file his latest, IT’S TOO QUIET..’!!, as quintessentially Siifu: a sprawling 17 tracks, still fixed with neo-soul and lo-fi trappings but thoughtfully channeling genres and new sounds.

Turich Benjy is along for the ride and often takes command of the wheel. His rangy, often auto-tuned vocals offer a vibrant catalyst to Siifu’s soulful rasp. Where Siifu, the world-building architect of the project, sounds like he’s whisper rapping boasts while laid up on silk sheets, Benjy attacks with abandon. He harmonizes so instinctively that it registers as borderline spiritual.

“He always comes different,” Siifu says of Benjy. “I’m already knowing based on certain beats what he’s going to bring. He might come a little bit like how I came, but he always going to take it somewhere else.”

In person, that dynamic plays out a bit differently. When we meet, Siifu and Benjy are equal parts jet-lagged and sleep-deprived – less than 24 hours removed from a London-to-LA flight that was immediately followed by a 3 a.m. night in a studio somewhere near Highland Park. The deluxe album could be on the way soon, they say. Siifu has just wrapped up the third leg of the Leather Blvd. tour with B. Cool Aid. — his collaborative neo soul-revival project with close friend and producer Ahwlee. Benjy just linked with him at the final stop.

Credit: Shane Joshua Smith

I arrive at their rental spot a few minutes late, but well before Siifu effectively wakes up, comically announcing his presence by dashing out of the hallway corridor in an oversized t-shirt and crew socks before jumping in the shower. In the kitchen, quietly unwrapping backwoods, is Benjy, adorned with rings on every other finger, a bright orange trucker hat and black Balenciaga “Crew” tee.

Right away, the contrast between the two is clear. Where Siifu typically speaks with animated excitement and candor, Turich is the quieter type. Not quite subdued but observant, often punctuating Siifu’s stories with a casually poignant thought.

Benjy has been Siifu’s partner in crime for the past year and some change. “I hadn’t been anywhere outside the country before working on the album,” he tells me from behind the counter, detailing some highlights from the recent Europe trip before Siifu abruptly darts out of the bedroom in an all-black nylon tracksuit (he made it himself) befit with a Yeezy Gap round puffer and tinted shades to match. Imagine a Cosmic Slop extra dropped into The Matrix.

As they play a few songs recorded last night off of a nearby bluetooth speaker, the pair’s recent globetrotting feels apropos.

When looking for words to describe the music on IT’S TOO QUIET..’!! I land on “universal.” Well-traveled. The type of shit that a few trips to the right clubs in London or Paris can open your mind to. Siifu agrees. “My passport is definitely a little stamped. I’m going to certain types of clubs literally just to hear certain music and that’s definitely influencing a lot of production choices and decisions that I’m making.”

The lead single (“WYWD…’!?”) is proof. The HiTech-assisted song is a revved-up ghettotech joint where Siifu skates through lines like “It’s all love and I’m in France” with a sultry slickness. Benjy commands the beat with auto-tuned charisma, finding pockets between warped vocal samples and playing call-and-response with the pitched-up “You want me to be a hoe?” that repeats throughout. (“Yes I doooo!” he answers at an even higher register.)

In short: It’s some ass-shaking shit.

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“All they need is b*tches twerking,” Siifu says of the Detroit-bred trio HiTech, aptly comparing them to a modern day Uncle Luke if booty tech and footwork was his music of choice. Siifu met the crew last year during Fashion Week in Paris, where he walked the runway for Marine Serre. From there, a collaboration spawned organically. “They was going to do like five joints [for the album]. We ended up recording like three but my plan was like we ‘bout to have this b*tch turnt.”

While only two made the final cut, their collaboration set the template for a project unafraid to travel sonically.

“It’s good to have a global perspective when you writing and sonically creating,” Siifu says. “That’s why we love old Neptunes, old Timbaland shit. They just sample so many rhythms. Indian shit, classic Brazilian shit.”

Over the course of a few hours, Siifu’s musical taste becomes a journey within the journey, his influences a constant point of reference. While posing for photos on the back porch, their bluetooth speaker transitions from Lucki to Yachty to some shit I quietly try to Shazam off my phone to no avail. In our half-hour trip to grab lunch on the other side of LA, he orchestrates the aux from the backseat, running everything from new Carti to The Vince Giuraldi Trio to Butch Dawson to Santigold to Hailu Mergia. Once we return to the backyard, blunt in hand, he waxes poetic about the impact of Prince, D’Angelo and the career arc of Andre 3000. The Jimi Hendrix Experience is our soundtrack.

But there is influence and then there is channeling that influence to create a sound that is comprehensibly singular. This is what characterizes Siifu: rather than discriminate musically, he obsessively funnels a kaleidoscope of tastes into his own colorful world, often pushing out multiple projects a year as he builds a musical catalogue that can best be described as genre agnostic.

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“It’s something I just appreciate being around,” Benjy says of Siifu’s approach. “I be around a lot of artists. N*ggas ain’t working that hard. Straight up.”

There is a purity to Siifu’s craft that is particularly refreshing in a stream-driven economy. His music is released independent of major labels and the volume of work is motivated not by algorithms, but a sheer obsession over the art and a deeply rooted joy in creating. And perhaps above all else: his two daughters. “Definitely working crazier because of these babies,” he says, referring to his twins waiting back home who just recently turned two years old. “I got a couple more years then I’m gonna kind of slow it up a little bit with the music. Try to get in some acting and shit, some stable shit. Not on some retirement shit, just on some dad shit.”

In the meantime, Benjy, as both a collaborator and effective understudy, is soaking up all the game he can.

“I was trying to get into making fun, free music again,” Benjy tells me as we’re grabbing lunch inside Tribal Cafe, a local health food joint on the edge of Los Angeles’ eastside. It’s a natural progression from his 2022 album ULTRASOUND (for which he recently released the deluxe.) The record is rich with vivid storytelling painted by his signature adventurous vocal delivery, but there’s an added weight, a heaviness to the music that he wanted to relent. Siifu was motivated to unlock that.

It makes their collaboration a perfect, almost celestial occurrence. The two had worked together plenty before — most notably on their 2021 hit “Bussin’ (Cold)” — but rarely recorded in-person and never with the intent of making a cohesive project. It was only after recording a few songs originally intended for Siifu’s next solo album that Siifu was inspired to “just make some fly shit with my n*ggas.”

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“Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis was supposed to make an album. We never got that. Juelz and Wayne was supposed to do a couple I Can’t Feel My Face-s,” Siiifu says, adding to his list of references. “That’s why I be doing collab shit. ‘Cause it’s like this my n*gga and we in a bag right now. We ‘bout to do this.”

The two first crossed paths during high school back in Cincinnati, where Benjy still resides today and which Siifu regards as the city that raised him. Benjy wears the midwest on his sleeve and credits the region with shaping his approach to songwriting.

“I love my vulnerable self-reflective shit. If you know Midwest n*ggas, you gonna be like oh, them n*ggas, that’s a dark place for dark shit,” he tells me. “I ain’t never trying to switch that up. That’s where I come from. That’s who I am. But I do want to be a little bit more lively about it.”

This shines through on joints like “Jeff Hamilton..’!” where Benjy buoyantly delivers lines like “I can not continue to live life in darkness.” And “exxxtra…’!”, produced by Groove, has a southern bounce that allows Benjy to float through autotuned brags (“how can I lose when I need the pressure? / I am a diamond let me remind ya”).

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“He still being reflective but now it’s sexy,” Siifu says. “That’s what I wanted to do with him. I just wanted to put different canvases on it.”

As far as canvases go, Siifu has seemingly mastered the art of album-making, while working to perfect his craft as a world-builder.

“I love sequencing,” he repeats twice for emphasis. You hear this truly begin to take shape on his 2021 masterpiece GUMBO’! — Siifu’s most complete body of work that coalesces his vast array of influences and collaborators into one rich, soulful, bluesy, trap record. To date, it serves as the most natural entrypoint for anybody looking to experience his music for the first time and, in many ways, shares an ancestral connection to IT’S TOO QUIET..’!!

We spend part of the day debating which project is better between the two and I describe it a bit like what grease is to honey: Where GUMBO’! has a sticky, rich thickness to it, ITQ sticks, but with an airier sweetness. Or, to reference another of Siifu’s muses, if GUMBO’! is his Mama’s Gun, then IT’S TOO QUIET..’!! is Worldwide Underground — a record still fixed with bluesy trap and soul just wired at a new frequency.

“When I made GUMBO’! It’s like this not the club album but it’s the album for the parking lot. The pregame album.”

This latest project? “It’s a little more of that club shit.”

Relics. Timepieces. The type of albums that can get played on Friday and Saturday nights and be fixtures on Sunday mornings — sticking to life’s memorable moments like butter to grits. This is the sort of seminal, timeless work that Pink Siifu wants to leave behind.

A few days after our interview, I follow up with another question via text: Have you made the perfect album yet?

The words come a bit easier this time, “I’m not nowhere near the master I’m tryna be for myself. Errthang is expanding doe so I’m growing fasho and detail is a mf I’m learning each album more and more. But nah still got ways to go’! And a lot to learn’!!”

For Benjy, his vision for the future is summed up more succinctly: “I want to be remembered as the n*gga that tried and did.”

Everything in due time.

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