Sergiodeartist is a 20 year old artist who is mainly based in Johannesburg and Durban. Sergio is the son of South African actor, Siyabonga Thwala, which indicates that his creative roots may be deep rooted within his family. Yet, despite this, he still manages to keep his individuality and follows his own path rather than adopting it from the success of his family.
Sergio's artistic work has usually been associated with poetry, but recently, he has dived more into different aspects of art, most notably – music. "Fabric." is his fourth and most recent project, released on the 15th of July 2018.
We now take a look at how it turned out:
Running 11 tracks deep, Fabric." opens with a song titled "flannel." .
"flannel." begins with high piano keys in the background to Sergio's low voice.
There's an obvious contrast between the two, which forces you to pay attention to his words. He begins to speak in a way that resembles both spoken word and rapping - which is described as "floetry". Sergio uses a high density of rhymes, inducing multi-syllables and metaphors as a way to describe the introspective thoughts he's been having . From topics like love and lust to drug use to his own mental space, and outlook on situations. Forcing you to pay attention to every word. The track ends with a snippet integrating ever-so harmoniously as the piano chords take centre stage. It’s a good start to the project and a greater indication of what’s about to follow.
Thereafter the opening son, the follow-up track is a "corduroy." The track is almost split into two halves and features a singer named "Miranda". The first half sees Miranda sing beautifully within an alto register on an acoustic version of Kanye West's "Ghost town" off of his "Ye". One could argue that it’s just as alluring as 070 Shake’s own contributions to the song. Her tonality is almost hollowed, which gives it an almost illusive feeling. This illusion is further emphasised when the singing come to a halt and the song transitions into static frequencies. As this instrumental transition, it becomes clearer that the instrumental is taking a backseat to timbres and vocals. The second half of the record is also acoustic based, however, Sergio’s contributions are different. He’s a baritone capable of producing slick riffs with huge jumps in range. His voice is naturally raspy and the dark tonality matches his dark lyricism. He has great pitch control as his style and density ensure he executes the song vividly.
It’s followed up by "Velvet." .The song opens with heavy choral arrangement and a beautiful four part harmony. It’s dramatic but it’s enticing as they come. The choral style singing doesn’t last long but it helps set the mood for a transition. The production of the track goes from dramatic to him basing the instrumental from melodies from a Frank Ocean instrumental whilst integrating Stormzy’s “Velvet/ Jenny Francis”. His ability to integrate mainstream songs within his music while remaining authentic is uncanny. Sergio shows up. He uses a well-timed quick flow while speaking about someone who he cares for deeply. His attention to detail is alarming as he speaks with every bit of insight. He speaks of their relationship and insinuates that she causes as much pain as she does happiness. He switches perspectives as he rhymes from her perspective. It’s the subtle touches which show great an artist is. The switching perspectives makes it dynamic and makes more compelling. The music is further deepened when he says "I look at the clouds and wonder if she’s really for me" as this shows that despite all her positive qualities, there's still an element of uncertainty he feels due to the struggles they both face. The track once again transitions into a moodier voice as the singing becomes hollowed which ultimately makes the song cohesive.
"sweatshirt." follows. Although it is not linked to the romance of the previous track, it deals with the internal struggles that Sergio faces within himself (such as death) while track is focused on he feels death around him/coming for him, due to his own pains. He executes it in a unique way and due to the content, it’s fervent. The song’s opening line is “I brought my halo but the devil waiting for me at the dinner table" whilst he concludes with "I can taste my graveyard on my dinner plate" and it becomes lucid how death is seemingly coming closer. References to the “last supper”, the devil and death. Morbid thoughts seem rampant within his frame of mind yet his calm delivery and dark cadences match the content well. The production is vibrant but somewhat mellow. It’s a good foundation to release his demons and he does so eloquently. He uses a high register, plays within a singer-rapper type of flow and shows his ability as an poet through extended metaphor and smooth wordplay. While the song is executed well, there are noticeable issues. His rhyme and flows often fall off but his floetic delivery is well-suited for off-beat rhymes. Miranda returns and unlike her previous effort, she acts as a harmonizing tool as she fades into the background. It’s got a sense of commercial appeal. It’s a well-made song.
On the track, "leather," Sergio speaks onto a beautiful jazz instrumental. Piano chords are infused with a beautiful saxophone.He speaks of how he's gotten accustomed to heart break and lies due to the white lies that he was told as a kid. His introspection is beyond personal. He references how his childhood struggles still affect him today. The true mark of an artist is the ability to tell a story with insight and detail – that’s where he excels. Incredible writing is matched through a sombre delivery style and changing flows. As the saxophone’s riveting melodies fasten, he quickens his pace and changes his delivery style to take advantage of flow pockets. He imitates the rhythm of the sax well. His verse is short and once he finishes, there's a brief moment of silence. The jazz production returns but in the form of a double bass, and later on, a guitar. Again, this another well-made song and his consistency is imposing.
"suede." is a song which begins with Sergio speaking in the midst of silence. The silence forces the listener to focus on his words and he takes centre stage. He speaks directly to the listener. "So here you all are", as he begins to depict relatable emotions amongst the youth of our society. Common fears, common struggles, common depression and common experience. There is little instrumental here but it works to his advantage. It’s somewhat acapaella and it makes the song better as he experiments with different elements (such as timbre, flow and tonality) to keep listeners’ engaged. The song’s short length also works to its benefit.
Subsequently after, "denim." begins. It sees Sergio experiment as he utilize instrumentals which rely on minor and diminish chords. The melancholy is placed next to well-suited drums. It’s alternative. The vocals are slowed down and creates the illusion of someone under influence. There’s coherent influences from King Krule and Steve Lacy. It’s well done and can resonate with most listeners who enjoy alternative music.
Thereafter, "cotton." follows. Sergio flows to a lo-fi beat and is very consistent throughout. Great wordplay, dark undertones and a cool flow. The beat then transitions into an almost grime-like instrumental. There’s no resolution to the dissonance. At first, it’s off putting but with more listners, it begins to resonate.
The dissonance of the prior two songs is resolved through "silk." The instrumental is a hybrid mix which infuses alternative hip-hop and jazz. The instrumental allows Sergio to rhyme effortlessly. He uses a unique flow as he rhymes about his love experiences. It’s good music and it only gets better as it transition into a group of singers singing a four part harmony with choral arrangement. The harmony’s act as the foundation for him to rhyme. His wordplay is commanding and he flows with ease. As he flows, the singers begin to and he becomes the main focus. “silk.” is alluring and Sergio seems to have an amazing ear for detail, sonic directions and production.
"nylon." Sees Sergio switch his style as he rhymes while using a rapping cadence. The instrumental is derived from Frank Ocean’s “White”. Over the years, I’ve always wondered why Frank Ocean never sang over John Mayer’s soul-bearing guitar riffs. This makes me question Frank further. Although short, Sergio raps smoothly about his mental state and references a "halo" which ultimately plays into him addressing his demons.
The final track is "linen." Sergio speaks about various topics and begins to unravel about his drug use, emotions and issues with his father. He ties together the themes of the album together well. His mental health, demons, upbringing and relations are discussed in a conclusive manner. On a nostalgic instrumental, which uses simple guitar chords and a xylophone, he talks about his childhood. Noticeably, he integrates sounds of children playing, which possibly eludes to his childhood playing a factor in his current pains. The album then ends in another beat transition. The project ends with a sultry instrumental and dark vocal harmonizing over the slow production.
In conclusion, "fabric." Is a beautiful project. There is a lot to admire about it, from its beautiful production (all done by Sergio and his cousin) and the attention to detail on every track. Sergio is also not afraid to be experimental and in doing so, he helps to create something unique and rarely seen artistically/musically within South Africa. Lyrically, this project is matured and well written. He’s a talented and this project is an indication of how it’s beyond Sergio's age.
There are few faults on the project. The project uses a range of different genre attributes well but like anybody making music which is experimental and unique, not everything comes off perfectly. Furthermore, Sergio tends to repeat certain themes and concepts, which were obviously written by his experience, but they ultimately make the project slightly redundant (especially towards the end). A shorter experience would have made the project more enjoyable and elicited a stronger effect. However, Sergio is very young, talented and shows promise to make something extraordinary if he can correct the minor flaws.