“Don’t ever call me a conscious rapper/I’ll knock you unconscious for saying that type of statement/Although, I DO have content, ya catch me?”
Houston-based artist Soul of Sherif’s album, “Grapevine,” is one that will restore your faith in independent artistry. Independent artistry, and SoundCloud, especially, tend to be black holes full of crappy production and lyrics about all the money, cars, clothes, and hoes that these independent artists cannot POSSIBLY have (a personal pet peeve of mine), and not much actual music (made with instruments) with real lyrics (that make sentences). Equally irritating is the lack of cohesive albums from independent artists. There’s a plethora of songs that end up missing the mark with audiences because not only can we not tell what the artist is trying to do with his style, we lose interest quickly with a ton of random subjects and miscellaneous beats. It’s bad marketing, and it’s confusing for would-be fans.
“Grapevine” is a breath of fresh air. Soul of Sherif raps about life, society, and what every black male has thought or felt at some point or another. Sherif can really only speak to the experience of black males as that is exactly what he is, but the brilliance of “Grapevine” is that his style of writing can resonate with individuals of any gender, ethnicity, or age group who have had to deal with the tough hand life has dealt and is still thriving. His style of almost rap-singing (no Drake, no Ja Rule) makes his music easier to palate for listeners who aren’t hip hop fans. The album is perfect “in your feelings” music, without being depressing or a downer. The upside to Sherif’s music is simply that – there is always an upside in the song. He doesn’t leave anything in a state of sadness or anger.
In one track, Keep Running, Soul of Sherif tells his story of unrequited hope, of the advice he got that was supposed to help him but in the end, hindered his personal progress, but he doesn’t leave it there. He says, “It’s win or lose or lose it all/It’s up to you to decide.” As I interpret it from the rest of the lyrics, Sherif is talking about the risk of having an “unconventional” job and choosing to follow his dreams instead of going to college. However, that line sums up the bulk of the message of the album: Things are going to be hard but when all is said and done, you have to block out everything you hear through the grapevine – the unsolicited advice, the words of doubt, even the words of those who are seemingly in your corner – and figure out your path for yourself.