For anyone that says all Atlanta rappers sound the same, Sy Ari Da Kid serves as a living testament to the falsehood of that perception. The North Side representative displays a wide range of musical styles on his very own projects.
From the social commentary of Politically End Correct to the Trap-influenced stylings of S.O.O.N. to the Drake-esque focus on the ladies with The Heartbreak Kid 3, Sy Ari is a musical chameleon capable of blending into almost any playlist.
“I’m from New York, so that’s where the samples and Hip Hop feel of Politically End Correct come from. That's just me talking about conscious subjects going on in the world,” Sy Ari Da Kid informs AllHipHop.com. “Me being in the south, that’s S.O.O.N. with the melodies, different flows, and 808s. Then I ride around to [Atlanta R&B station] 104.1. I’m an old school R&B fan.”
His latest project, The Sy Ari Mix 2, is a throwback to when emcees would show they could murder other rapper’s beats. The 15-track collection includes new versions of Meek Mill’s “R.I.C.O.,” Fetty Wap’s “My Way” and others.
Sy Ari’s four-year-old son opens the project declaring “we want bars,” and his dad is happy to oblige. The preschooler appears throughout Mix 2, navigating listeners through the Trap-A-Holics, DJ Jay Tek, DJ S.R., and DJ Blak Boy hosted tape.
Fatherhood is a central part of who Sy Ari Da Kid is as a man and as a brand. His life journey involves maneuvering through the challenge of building a music career while at the same time raising a child alone.
“People ask me what separates me from other artists. I don’t know too many other artists right now that are single fathers and the mother is not around. If they are, they’re not promoting it,” states Sy. “That’s my story. That’s my lane. I represent for the single fathers.”
Sy’s own childhood began in The Bronx, New York. He relocated to Atlanta at the age of nine, but it was a legendary collective from the city where Hip Hop was born that helped put him on the path toward his future as a rap artist.
“My brother used to make beats on this Yamaha my pops had. He was a big fan of Wu-Tang. He’d try to copy everything they did. With him being my older brother I fed off that,” Sy explains. “I kept practicing rapping as a hobby. Once I got out of high school, I started to take it seriously. I knew I wasn’t going to play ball professionally, so I wanted to do one thing I was at least a little bit better at than other people.”
Another rap-star-in-the-making emerged from Robert L. Osborne High as well. "Cut Her Off" rhymer K Camp is from the same Marietta, Georgia neighborhood as Sy Ari. Even though Camp was a few years behind Sy, the two performers were able to connect and become close. That friendship eventually led to the 2012 joint effort Work A Holics.
Sy and Camp - along with producer Mike Will Made It and rap trio Migos - are part of the narrow band of North Atlanta natives to garner attention outside of GA. While ATL legends OutKast, Goodie Mob, T.I., Young Jeezy, Ludacris, and Gucci Mane, have been able to cement their section of the city’s vibe with a mainstream audience, "The Nawfside" is still developing its own distinct musical design, according to Da Kid.
“Camp’s about to be the first person to drop an album from Marietta, so right now I wouldn’t say we have a sound. As far as artists, I think me and Camp are going to start developing a sound coming from that area,” contends Sy. “We got A-1 The Supergroup and Rich The Kid. It’s a couple of people, but we’re just starting to create our sound. People weren’t really repping or mentioning the North Side.”
While K Camp is set to drop his debut LP Only Way Is Up this week, Sy is not too concerned about releasing his own official studio album. His discography already contains over a dozen projects, and since he often uses original production the distinction between how the collections are labeled is pretty much irrelevant.
“I let the people pick [what to call it]. I don’t care. I give you the music, and you take what you want from it,” he says. “Call it an EP or mixtape. I don’t really care about all that. To the people, it’s either good, bad, or okay. They don’t care what it’s called anymore.”
After Sy gave the people his recent single “Man In My City,” the feedback from the public mostly centered around the song’s guest. Fellow Atlantan Quentin Miller provided a verse. In case you didn’t have access to the internet or TV over the last month, Miller is the guy that Meek Mill exposed as Drake’s co-writer on cuts like “R.I.C.O.,” “10 Bands,” and “Know Yourself.”
Sy released visuals for “Man In My City” after the Meek/Drake situation exploded, and nearly all the top YouTube comments for the video were about the OVO leader. Some users even began speculating if Sy Ari was penning words for Drake too. That led him to address the online reactions on his follow-up “My Mixtapez.”
“When we did the video, we didn’t talk about all the Drake sh*t. I don’t have no problem with Meek, but the way that he aired it out, I don’t know if he considered Quentin’s situation,” suggests Sy. “Quentin’s an artist. But now all people are concerned about is ‘he could have given that to Drake’ or ‘that sounds like Drake.’ They’re trying to hear Drake in the sh*t so much that they’re forgetting this is a young n*gga that never had nothing. Do y’all even know if this messed up a situation for him? I don’t think nobody considered that.”
The after-effect of Meek versus Drake is still playing out which is usually the case for such a notorious battle. Sy Ari is well aware of how success from a lyrical match-up can impact someone’s career. Atlanta radio station Hot 107.9 retired Sy from its battle competition once he took out eleven opponents in a row.
Sy has experienced his own face-to-face battles both on camera and off as well. Last year, he jumped in the ring against Making The Band alum E Ness at an MC WARS event, and many fans believe the Atlanta representative walked out of the 3 rounder as the winner.
“E Ness, I still look at him as the first battle rapper to do it on reality television. He’s still a legend, in my opinion,” says Sy. “I said I’ll go in there and spar with him. I felt like he couldn’t beat me. He doesn’t have angles. He’s straightforward.”
The “Don’t Make Me” spitter is a true follower of battle rap culture. He watches what takes place in leagues such as King Of The Dot, URL, and Don’t Flop and names battlers Hollow Da Don, Arsonal, John John Da Don, Cortez, and Math Hoffa as friends. Going off general consensus, Sy lists Hollow, Ars, Charlie Clips, and Murda Mook among the top guys in the game right now.
Being a well-known recording artist is the top priority at the moment for Sy, but he's still interested in going to war with some of the best competitors in battle rap. Even if Da Kid does not sign-up for a main event card in the near future, he sees stepping in the recording booth as a battle in itself.
Sy says, “To me, battling is the only thing left in music that is still raw and uncut. There’s rappers that say, ‘I don’t freestyle. I don’t battle.’ This whole sh*t is a battle. When you get on a song with a n*gga, if you don’t have a hotter verse, then you lost the battle. So I’m always going to jump into that lane.”
Add a willingness to embrace the competitive nature of battle rap with an ability to create diverse musical content, and the sum is one of the most versatile Hip Hop artists of this generation. Those qualities are also making Sy Ari Da Kid the man in his city.
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Stream/download Sy Ari Da Kid’s The Sy Ari Mix 2 below.