A lot of people that we know [are] just having their egos checked in many ways.
This declaration from The Internet's Matt Martians to NPR about the band's recent album release, "Ego Death," sparked conversation around why the album's title was so matter-of-fact.
Martian is one of six members of the Los Angeles-based soul band The Internet along with Syd Tha Kyd, Jameel Bruner, Midtown Pat, Christopher Smith, Tim Lancer, and Steve Lacy.
The band is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Their sound, cognizant of Pharrell's N.E.R.D. with a Wondaland vibe, is represented by Odd Future Records. Their third album is an anthology that addresses the beauty of finding yourself, something that each member has done in the two years since their previous album, Feel Good.
The 12-track album tells a story of vulnerability, maturity, self-worth, and most importantly, enjoying the journey through these emotions. This project explores personal and humbling anecdotes that exemplify the value of humility.
NBCBLK recently caught up with Syd Tha Kyd and Matt Martians to deconstruct their new album.
Track #1: "Get Away": Aptly titled, it's a high-energy lyrical showcase of Syd's newfound confidence. "It came from growing up and loving myself," she said when asked about how she became more open on this album. "Everyone's insecure, and I used to dwell in my insecurities. I'm learning to let go."
Track #2: "Gabby" features Janelle Monae vocals layered over electronic vibes and simple drum beats consistent with the entire album. This track is about fear of losing love, a feeling common to most, especially during their early twenties.
Track #3: "Under Control": The drums flow into this next track with subtle elegance and simplicity. Matt Martians admits this one is "appreciated a little bit more."
Throughout the album, we listen to Syd's journey through the ebbs-and-flows of relationships which mirror her self-confidence at times.
Track #4: "Go With It", is heavy on savoring moments, alleviating stress, and letting go of your ego. The message — we, as a society, should be learning more about the importance of slowing down and taking time to get to know the good things in life: love, lust, and self-realization.
Track #5: "Just Sayin'/I Tried": A personal favorite, this song establishes this sense of self-worth and departure from past relationships. The song is split in two, wrapping up regret, understanding, and acceptance. "Just Sayin'" emphasizes how little Syd needs that person in her life, but they're still on her mind, while "I Tried" chronicles Syd offering up her unreciprocated love.
Track #6: "For The World": Journeying backwards to a time when Syd's vulnerability showed, "For The World" reveals a protective instinct; Syd will do anything to guard her love, but none of that matters at the present moment when she's with her love. She alludes to police brutality when joined by James Fauntleroy singing, "False arrest, unrest, was on the docket / But when the last body goes down, it won't make any sense." (She later goes on to question the current state of Black America in "Penthouse Cloud")
Track #7: "Girl": The first line off of their second single encapsulates Ego Death's vibe, has Syd telling a girl that she deserves better. All she has to say is "I'm your girl" and she can have the world and whatever she wants, which becomes a complicated conundrum in the second part of the song and the following track, "Special Affair."
Throughout the song, it's evident that Syd is not reciprocating this girl's deep feelings. Before getting into this song, we asked Syd about how she became so comfortable exposing her sexuality more on the album to which she replied, "There's only one song that's sexual which is 'Special Affair.' We're sexual beings. I just write about what's real."
Track #8: "Special Affair": Syd talks about the experience of meeting someone for a one-night stand. The title references Syd's current position as a celebrity; there's no reason to pretend around her because she knows that the girl at the club wants her and vice-versa.
She told FADER she's built this confidence over time. "Girl, you know God damn well who I am, and if you don't, your friends do," she proudly recounted on her swagger at meeting women at clubs and parties.
Track #9: "Something's Missing": The background vocals complementing Syd Tha Kyd's voice sound like Chili from TLC. It's one of those songs whose beats captivate you to play on repeat. Maybe the music gets you or maybe it's the fact that Syd is so lyrically relatable to the masses, describing the desires to end a relationship but trying to avoid being the person to initiate that conversation.
Track #10: "Partner in Crime III", connects all three albums. It also picks up where JAY Z and Beyoncé's "On the Run" left off; Syd describes running away with her love without a care in the world. They are on the physical journey of getting away with her love but also dealing with the fact that Syd messed up. If given the chance, Syd would do it all over again but better.
Track #11: "Penthouse Cloud": While this album discusses a level of unseen power in the self, it also questions the nature of Black America. "I didn't really write that song as a political statement," says Syd. "I wrote it as a question because that's really how I feel, asking God if this is what He means. If that's the case, what's going to become of it?"
This question that haunts the 3:23 song references police brutality, as it was actually written the day of Darren Wilson's trial in 2014.
Track #12: "Palace/Curse": The final song creates a similarly relaxing atmosphere, like the last eleven songs of the album, giving off the feeling that some inspiration for the album was drawn from popular 90s R&B tunes. The Internet was joined for their last song of the album by their record label's head Tyler the Creator who plays as the Maestro in the song about parties, freedom, and acting on feelings.
Ego Death reached No. 3 on the Billboard R&B Albums Chart, and "Under Control" stayed on Billboard's Adult R&B chart for nine weeks. The album is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. The Internet is also going on the European leg of their tour this year, starting with London on March 9.