Tigrayan rapper Sideshow easily boasts one of the most fully fleshed-out sounds in the game right now, leading an incomparable sonic direction defined by his unapologetically honest lyrics that tale his all-gas-no-breaks approach to navigating success and vices atop sample-contorting production. Although he reps an avant-garde sound, Sideshow’s execution and versatility are undeniable and very well might lead him to be the one to bridge the gap between the underground and abstract rap scenes. This undertaking is on full display on his neck-breaking track, “LEX (Every Workhouse Go To Heaven)”.
An apparent principle of Sideshow’s art is his authenticity, a claim that plenty of artists make but few can execute at the level he does. Across his discography, he narrates these unadulterated anecdotes, unconcerned with painting himself as the ‘good guy’ and even more unbothered by how those who listen to his music may perceive him or his intentions. Sideshow simply tells it how it is and does it with the utmost clarity, a characteristic that helps him produce some of the most tethered-to-reality and captionable lyrics I have heard in a minute.
More than that, though, he reinforces the potency of his lyrics and agile cadences with a beat selection that his peers would have no idea what to do with, playing with a compelling array of textures, samples, and instrumentation in a way that only makes sense to his aesthetic. Sideshow has the unique ability to make the leap from James Brown samples to ricocheting futuristic synths on “DOLLAR T/ DEAD LEG” to otherwordly loops on tracks like “LEX”, and each performance of his is charismatically unholstered and discharged with all the conviction in the world. His delivery provides an uncontrollably contagious feeling of confidence delivered to his audience on the other side of the mp3, an experience that I witnessed firsthand during his debut headline show that encored this past summer in Brooklyn, as the crowd went word-for-word from verses to hooks.
Although lines of comparison between him and his contemporaries are blurry, his art’s purpose and creative direction are both abundantly clear and consistent. Sideshow has a hand in almost every facet of his artistry, from designing his own album art and merch – that goes way beyond the typical screen-printed merch sold at the back of the venue – to even dabbling in the production of some of his tracks alongside rising producers like Popstar Benny, Alexander Spit, among others.
On Sideshow’s latest offering, “LEX (Every Workhouse Go To Heaven)” we get a window into his unrelenting work ethic and the fruits he reaps from his labor via his signature dexterous flow that takes center-stage as he masterfully weaves his braggadocious lyrics between the revolving sample that’s daringly unsupported by the safety net of much percussion. With two phenomenal projects out this year with 2MM DON’T JUST STAND THERE and JAM, along with just embarking on a North American tour alongside Maxo, Sideshow is living up to his self-proclaimed “workhorse” title, and it’s time to get familiar if you aren’t already.
Tap in with Sideshow and “LEX (Every Workhouse Go To Heaven)” using the links below!
A genuine perspective