Jackson-based hip hop artist SilaS dropped his latest album The Day I Died (a.k.a. TDID) in February of this year, giving listeners a nostalgia-fueled journey into the life and times of SilaS as an artist and an individual. It is a tale of finding yourself, chasing your dreams and living life the way you’ve imagined you always could.
The Hip Hop Trumpeter is not new to the scene. TDID is actually his third official album with three mixtape releases prior. Many consider this latest release to be his magnum opus, showcasing all the growth and evolution he’s experienced since he began his career as an artist in 2009. It feels like we are getting SilaS in his most honest creative mind. His story is relatable to many, which helps people connect with this project in a way that brings to mind the highs and lows of leaving childhood and becoming an adult.
Silas Stapleton III was born in Jackson and grew up in the city’s historic Fondren neighborhood. He played trumpet in Murrah High School’s marching band and has always had a talent for drawing. Fondren is well known for fostering a vibrant creative arts community, as evidenced by the monthly Fondren First Thursday Arts Festival. Such an eclectic array of influences shines through in SilaS’ music and has helped him to develop his own unique sound.
Musically, the album is a sonic buffet with a number of memorable samples including elements taken from both The Wiz and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. He builds lyrical monuments to the joys of being a kid in the ’90s with references to Power Rangers, Dragonball Z, Rugrats and even devotes an entire song to the ABC cartoon block One Saturday Morning. It’s these moments that help listeners develop a real bond with the music and the man behind the bars.
SilaS is also an accomplished trumpet player and has incorporated the instrument into his music since his earliest releases. It is an integral piece of each song and performance, sounding like another verse with notes replacing lyrics. The current musical climate is prime for jazz-infused hip hop thanks, to the success of mainstream artists like Kendrick Lamar, Donnie Trumpet, Flying Lotus and Thundercat. The trumpet definitely isn’t a gimmick or a prop for his stage shows — it’s a natural extension of his artistry and creative ability.
TDID has received critical acclaim since its release and has received attention from major media outlets including Vibe and 2Dopeboyz.com. The attention was propelled by the video for his lead single “Gullah Gullah Island,” which features some vivid and important images depicting the artist being shot and killed by a police officer in the parking lot of a local corner store. It helps to show that it can happen to any of us and shines a light on the rampant police brutality and racism that the Black community is currently facing. It later shows him walking out of his home into the Black utopia described in the lyrics of the song. It’s a high-energy track featuring a Trap-style beat, catchy chorus and verses detailing a beautiful vision of society. With so much racial division taking place and the dawn of a new civil rights movement, it’s a bonus that listeners can be educated and entertained at once. The familiar soundscape captures the ears of the listener and helps to extend the reach of the message.
SilaS and I sat down at local indie culture nexus OffBeat in Jackson to discuss his feelings on his current success, his responsibility to the fans and the nostalgia concept behind the album. He had some interesting things to say about how he viewed his new found success.
“I’m always striving to reach greater heights. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but I’m always wanting to achieve more,” SilaS said. “So honestly I’m not sure if I’ll ever truly be where I want success wise, but I am thankful for the all of the attention The Day I Died has brought me.”
The new bond he is forming with supporters, both new and old, is one of the leading aspects of his newfound success.
“The connection (with supporters) is the coolest thing of all. Creating something that is relatable and hearing the various ways that people have found ways to identify with the music is great. Having conversations and hearing all of the different interpretations is cool, too, especially when you realize people grasped the concept,” SilaS said.
“It brings everything full circle, and it’s cool to have other people connecting on the same wavelength — that’s more important than anything at the end of the day, that’s what makes you want to keep making music, when people understand what you’re conveying through your art.”
When asked about the creative process behind TDID and if any of the songs had a special place in his heart, he replied, “All of them,” accompanied by a sincere laugh.
He went on to elaborate, “I feel like the album is one big song. It’s a story,” he said. “None of the songs could truly exist without the others. It’s all pieces to one puzzle.”
The rapper gave a few details about two of the standout tracks from his musical mosaic.
Link To The Future: “As far as where I’m going presently, the last track means a lot to me. It’s just me speaking what I want to happen,” SilaS said. “It’s about where I’m headed in my career and making all of my dreams come true. I feel like it is literally my link to the future I envision.”
One Saturday Morning: “My whole album is nostalgic and based around the sense of me being in a more comfortable place when I was younger. One Saturday Morning stemmed from Saturday morning cartoons, not having to go to school and just being able to relax and watch TV,” he said. “It ended up serving as the overall theme for the album. It put me in a good place and that’s what I’m always hoping to find when I’m making music, somewhere I feel free. I often try to reach back there and try to create from that point of view.”
Recently the Jackson wordsmith has been putting out short videos of encouragement with themes such as doubt.
“I just think it’s always important to put a message out there, whether it be audio or visual, to help people get through whatever it is they’re getting past. Mainly though, I do it for myself,” he said. “It reminds me to keep going and not give up because sometimes you may have a bad day, week or month, and you’ll question if you’re on the right path no matter how much success you have already seen. It’s a selfmotivator.”
SilaS has performed as part of several rallies in Jackson, including the Flag Protest Rally held at the state capitol. There’s a quote from Nina Simone that says, “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” When asked what his thoughts were on the subject, he made it clear that he has taken on this responsibility as well.
“It’s 110% our responsibility. Music is so powerful. I don’t know if there’s anything else that has more power. What would a commercial be without a jingle? When you see fight scenes in films like Avengers, what would the action onscreen be without the soundtrack? Music is something that is a major part of most people’s daily lives. It influences the mind in a deeper way and, if you can tap into that, why not make something positive? It’s easier to remember chants and melodies than hours of video and lectures. That’s what people remember,” he explained. “Music doesn’t die — it lives forever. Even after I’m long gone, the things I create will still be here for 200 years, so it’s best to create something that stands the test of time.”
There’s certainly a bright future ahead of SilaS and he has no signs of slowing down any time soon. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see what else he has in store as the saga unfolds. To stream, download or purchase a hard copy of The Day I Died, visit dearsilas.com.