On Syd tha Kyd

Music

Sydney Bennet aka Syd the Kyd is so hot right now.

Riding on the coattails of a Grammy-nominated third album (Ego Death – it’s worthy), and a sold-out European tour that kicked off a few months ago, front woman of neo-soul group The Internet, Syd is one of those people who is so attractive because she’s just unapologetically herself. Which is a big deal.

I saw Syd in March at the Koko in Camden rocking a wicked afro-mohawk, old-man dancing around the stage to the band’s raucous beat.

She’s black, androgynous, and has a beautiful, angelic, effortless voice. It’s seriously beautiful. And completely unexpected. She challenges expectations.

Paul Lester of the Guardian described this as a ‘disconnect’.

There’s a disconnect between the way you look and the way you sing. Way back on your first track, Flashlight, it was hard to square your image as Odd Future’s tomboy engineer with the mohawk and that angelic voice.

The first three hundred times I listened to tracks by The Internet, I wondered who the awesome singer guest starring on their music was. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I drew up their Spotify bio trying to find out her identity. But it was Syd, smashing it hard, right in front of me.

Lester also calls Syd’s status in the R&B canon and the way she sings about women and to women using “she” and “her” in their lyrics, “subversive” and “revolutionary”. Which I dig. Her public existence and comfort in herself is game-changing: as a black, gay woman who dresses like a tomboy and sings like an angel she demonstrates a multifacetedness that’s so refreshing in a largely homogeneous popular culture.

It’s just so audacious, especially because she’s not doing anything other than being completely and utterly herself. There’s something so breathtakingly right and raw and honest and soulful about everything that’s at play here—and it’s pretty amazing that such a person and such music could’ve emerged from raucousness and unchecked homophobia of Odd Future (or maaaaaybe that’s just Tyler, the Creator).

At the same time, you’ve gotta acknowledge that Syd doesn’t represent black or gay women, she represents herself. Which is important. How many people of colour of members of the LBGTQA+ community have been forced to represent their entire community because they’re seemingly the only ones with that particular identity in music or the wider media? It’s completely laughable when you apply the same logic to the most ubiquitous and gassed members of society (guess who).

“Look, I don’t represent bald niggas, and Syd doesn’t represent women or gay people…” – Matt Martians (The Internet, band member)

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