Update 02/10/2017: Sidizen King just dropped his debut EP Stuck in the Middle today. Stream below and continue reading for our exclusive feature on him.
By way of Rhode Island to L.A., Sidney Baptista has turned himself into an emerging hip-hop artist, one you would be wise to watch out for. The last two years have been big for Sid’s growth as the birth of SiDizen King happened. Combining elements of electronic music with a classic old school flow, forming what Sid describes as “Electro Rap” or “Future Hop,” his music is tapping into the nucleus of everything that’s hot today while keeping it 100% authentic.
The name SiDizen King, while a clever play on his given name, stems from a place deeper than that. Orson Welle’s breakthrough movie Citizen Kane was big part in where the name came from after Sid went through a classic film phase. “I learned that great film isn’t about the equipment, but rather the storytelling,” says Baptista. “That’s a lesson I had to continue revisiting as I was recording this EP in friends’ basement closets.” Citizen Kane pushed boundaries and questioned conventions, which is why Sid’s moniker fuels him to keep pushing the envelope. The movie also holds strong themes about wealth, fame, and power, while the contrast between “citizen” and “king” helps him to remain grounded. “SiDizen King helps me to remember to do what I do for the love, and not for the money.”
Before his debut EP Stuck in the Middle drops on February 10th, we got a chance to speak with Sid about that, his music at its core, and a few other things. Even Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement.
Meet SiDizen King
Isaac: For those who don’t know, who is SiDizen King? How would you describe yourself?
Sid: I would describe myself as a hip-hop artist that’s blending the worlds of hip-hop and electronic music. There’s so many other facets, but right now it’s blending the lyrical elements of hip-hop and the production quality of electronic music. Not on a corny level, cause I mean we’ve seen that in other capacities. Not to hate on like Pitbull or FloRida, but they’ve combined hip-hop with more specifically EDM, but it’s all party anthems – there’s not like a lot of lyrical integrity, or a story being told. So it’s different in that respect. There’s a narrative behind it. There’s attention to cadence and flow. There’s a lot of the original aspects of hip-hop in it that you can find.
Isaac: Who were your inspirations growing up? Music wise?
Sid: So off top, the first time I received any music that my mom allowed me to have was – my uncle gave me like The Best of RUN DMC. I took to that, I memorized all the lyrics. Next, I got The Best of LL Cool J. Not the ladies man LL Cool J, like LL Cool J when he came out the gate with Def Jam, like hardcore LL Cool J. From then there was like a space in time where nothing was really hitting me until Nas. At that time I was dabbling in poetry, of course I was really young, but that was the first time I was like “Woah, this dude is telling a story,” with his music, that I could see; that at that time I could relate to you know? Being in the inner city. For me that was like my [Charles] Dickens. Know what I mean? For me that was like my Robert Frost. Nas was the first dude to really just kind of like, wow, like this more than just music. It was more than what LL was bringing to the table with the aggression at the time, it was like this dude is a journalist. So Nas, definitely Tupac, he was painting pictures as well. His lyrics weren’t as complex at all but it was real you know? Those two dudes probably influenced me into like understanding the power of hip-hop. And I can’t forget 3Stacks. Lovebox/Speaker Belowww was the first album I bought with my own money.
Isaac: Do you study any musicians in the electronic scene too?
Sid: Yeah, I like Flume a lot. To be completely honest, like I didn’t come up listening to electronic music, I dabbled in production a little bit, but it wasn’t by choice. I had this [software] EJ, it was called Electronic EJ. It was a very basic program that had like samples you could use to put together and make a song, but they were all electronic samples. I wanted to make hip-hop, so I would take the electronic samples, and the drums, and try to make hip-hop music. It was kind of a precursor to what is out now, but that was years ago in high school. But yeah I dig Flume a lot, Kygo obviously, Dylan Francis, Diplo, when he teamed up with SKrillex and did JackU that was dope to me, Major Lazer, so I can’t speak to a lot of the people who were doing it early on but a lot of these cats coming up now are definitely influences.
Isaac: How long have you been making music then? Like you said you were doing production and things like that. When did that all start?
Sid: When I took it serious-serious, and I was like hopping up in the booth, two years. So not very long at all. I’ve always felt like that I could do it. I kind of had the ear for that. With having a little bit of a background in poetry and understanding other poetic devices. When we’re talking about taking it seriously, two years for sure. So I’m still new to it, still figuring it out.
It’s definitely a buffet of sounds.
Isaac: Dope dope. So last year you started dropping a handful of different singles and tracks, and you got a lot of attention from them on Hype Machine and other areas. What’s it like for you to see your music be received so well?
Sid: It’s a blessing man. It’s funny because initially you make your music and you think it’s dope, and you always wish that you were one of those dudes that any number of these blogs are writing about. True Too you know? Anybody. For me, the first blog I saw someone write up a track on of mine wasn’t a Hype Machine blog at all, but it blew me a way. It’s just one thing for you to believe in yourself, but then to have somebody that hasn’t met you, someone that like doesn’t know you, is kind of singing praises of something that you’ve written is powerful man. Cause prior to that you just play it for the homies, and depending on how real your homies are most of the time their gonna say they like it you know? Or even if they don’t like it they’re not gonna tell you it’s trash you know? So it meant a lot. I wouldn’t say it changed way too much, but there’s a certain element of confidence that comes from it. Like I’m not crazy for thinking that these two genres can blend well together.
Isaac: Does that help transition to when you’re performing songs? I’m sure that extra confidence makes you perform that much better. Because you know it’s gonna hit some people in the crowd.
Sid: Oh yeah man! It does because, the fact that I started – like this is a new project, it’s still relatively new on any level. To see like at this point, I don’t know, more than 2 million people have listened to a certain song. Even if I’m playing to an entire new song I feel like most people there are gonna dig it. Because I’ve already seen like, quote on quote, professionals and experts in listening to music, and writing in music, verify that it’s dope it definitely helps with confidence.
Isaac: So this year you’ve already got a new song out, “Stuck in the Middle,” which is dope by the way. I saw that it’s already getting some well deserved attention on Spotify. Was that always your plan to intentionally drop that song first? Because you knew it would kick off the year with a bang?
Sid: Yeah. That song, I always felt like it was one that maybe combined different elements from other songs I introduced, but never together. From a lyrical standpoint it was the most evolved. It’s the one that like at the time I wrote it I was most proud of because, it just kind of came all together. All the things that I hope to accomplish in a song, whether you know it’s telling a story, using analogies, transitioning even tonally to communicate the vibe. If you listen to both verses, the first eight bars I’m coming in at a higher register and that’s supposed to communicate like, this character, he’s not really trying to commit to this girl. Like we can hold hands but not in public. Then it transitions to a lower tone that supposed to signify the thoughts that are in his head and it’s more pensive. It’s this whole story being told and the production really matches well with everything. I felt like the hook was accessible, it was very – like I felt like people could hear it and think it’s catchy. It was a good balance of doing something that people could listen to and off the bat would like, but if they live with it a little bit it was a really relatable topic. It kind of struck that middle line of I’m not leaning too much to the pop stuff, but I’m also staying true to like if you wanna go check the bars they’re their too. If they didn’t catch everything at first there’s enough replay value to go and play it again. Maybe by the second or third listen it’s like “OHHHH shoot, there’s facts being told here.” Luckily Spotify felt the same way and popped it up on New Music Friday so it was a good look.
Isaac: Yeah man that’s dope. Is that you coming in towards the end and singing along too? Is that your vocals?
Sid: Yeah yeah! Me and homegirl Kendra Mack. That’s the first track [I’m singing on] – I mean I did a little on “Eye for an Eye” but, I talked a bit earlier how Kid Cudi brought in that melodic aspect so, I mean since Cudi’s done it everybody’s done it. That’s another aspect I wanted to introduce moving forward, that I may capitalize a bit more on that. I’ll always be a rapper but I do think it adds a new vibe you know? This EP is kind of – it’s a hodgepodge of things. It’s experimental, but also trying to show off some versatility.
Isaac: Definitely! Now on to that EP coming out. It’s coming out February 10th right?
Isaac: What else can you tell us about it? How many songs are on it, what’s behind the project, the ideas and themes?
Sid: It’s a six song EP. Three of which have already come out. “One Day” is on there, “Eye for an Eye,” and “Stuck in the Middle.” It deals with relationships and basically how cyclical they are. They kind of go in circles. It starts off with someone that you’re interested in but maybe you guys aren’t romantic yet. Then it moves into the phase of like do you want to be exclusive? Where “Stuck in the Middle” is there. There’s other linking songs that you’ll hear, but eventually you get to the point where it’s “Eye for an Eye” because somebody did you wrong and you want to get revenge kind of thing. There is a loose concept to it which started before all the songs were done. You don’t see too many concept projects in hip-hop any more. A lot of dudes I respect have done so, and well at some point in their career. Granted it’s not like the most disciplined concept, I didn’t want that, I wanted it to be more kind of abstract. If you listen to it there’s definitely that element that we all go through in relationships. Like a circle. You go through those phases. Production wise I was going for, yo, hip-hop can fit on anything. You got electronic music, you got the more disco sounding (Eye for an Eye), you got the future bass (Stuck in the Middle), you got topical house (One Day), the focus track that’s dropping with the EP is called “Masquerade.” There you have completely different elements that haven’t been introduced yet. Another track called “Roll the Dice,” and that’s more traditional hip-hop. It’s definitely a buffet of sounds.
Isaac: Do you have any features on the project? I know you got Kendra, and then The Strike on “Eye for an Eye.” Any other of your friends on there that you’re working with?
Sid: Yeah yeah. I actually have, on “Masquerade” I have my friend Jarret Burns who’s an amazing vocalist. He’s on that, on “One Day” Confessions sings on there, and on “Roll the Dice” I have Kendra back on that one. It’s definitely a family affair. These are all people that I’m close to. Since things have been growing I’ve gotten tons of feature requests, a lot of them from rappers. And I’ve abstained from that – there’s no prideful reason in trying to do that other than I wanted to communicate my vision first. Kind of live in my own world. So intentionally there’s no other rappers on there. I’m trying to go platinum with no features –
Isaac: (laughter) Yeah J Cole it!
Sid: J cole yeah, you know what I’m sayin’! I feel like it’s important as a new artist to kind of win or lose, there was probably a good opportunity to get some real good features on this, but I wanted the opportunity to kind of prove that the vision works solo. That there didn’t need to be a hip-hop cosign on it. I want to craft the story of progression.
Isaac: Do you have any plans to drop another project this year, or what are your next moves?
Sid: You don’t want to speak before it happens but, I’m writing on some really cool stuff for other people, which is dope, and I’m happy to do that now that this is out of the way. I’m gonna be working on getting a mixtape out by April. Then this is the phase where we’re getting the live show out there more. But by the fall, to release the debut album. Stayin’ busy for sure.
Isaac: Yeah man that’s a big year. Big plans. These last few questions will be kind of random. Fun ones. So earlier I saw you tweeted about Beyonce’s pregnancy photos –
Isaac: What’s your real feelings on it?
Sid: I’ll be honest. When I saw it, I thought it was like one of those memes. I thought somebody photoshopped her face on it. Cause’ I hadn’t read the headline yet. I’m like yo that’s weird, that’s really strange right there. Then when I saw it was a legit picture, you know I love Beyonce, and my immediate thing was like my taste must be off. Sometimes we do that. If everybody else likes this, and someone who has the taste of someone like Beyonce it must be dope, I just can’t see it yet. I’m gonna sleep on it. I came back the next day and I was like yo it’s still whack. I didn’t say anything cause’ I know the most violent people out there are Beyonce reporters.
Isaac: The Bey-hive, man.
Sid: Yup. The Bey-hive will shut your whole thing down. Then I saw a tweet that somebody else tweeted, and they were expressing that, so I was like you know what, I feel just like that. Let me cosign that. Cause’ there’s probably a lot of people that are just holding their tongues out of fear. That’s my real feelings on it. I can’t cosign it. Maybe I just don’t get it. I feel like a lot of people are like suckas right now. They don’t wanna call it like it is. If it was another artist people would be clowning. You better believe if it was like Azalea Banks or somebody else that people don’t love in hip-hop necessarily, there woulda been 30,000 memes on that you know?
Isaac: I’m with you on that one. What other things are you in to when you’re not busy working?
Sid: Yeah man I like to think that I’m a basketball player. I mean I love all sports, but basketball and football are my favorite. So I stay pretty up to date on that. The stereotypical rapper thing; everyone wishes they were a basketball player. The Celtics are my team. We tryna get the glory days back. I love to eat. If you ever make it out to LA I got some spots to show you my dude. I’ve lost a lot of money eating out here.
Isaac: Last question. Who’s the best rapper out right now? Or who do you think are the best rappers?
Sid: Oooooh man. Okay so, like, I think if we’re talking about mainstream dudes, it’s pretty simple. It’s J. Cole and Kendrick. To me there’s nobody that’s really close. I feel like Drake understands pop culture better than any other rapper that’s ever lived. But finding out that’s not his pen on everything you definitely can’t be the greatest rapper after that.
Be sure to check out SiDizen King’s debut EP, Stuck in the Middle, when it drops this Friday. For all things hip-hop keep reading at True Too.