Winds of Change: In Conversation with Pink Siifu

Portrait of Pink Siifu
Photo by Texas Isaiah

Pink Siifu has been in hibernation mode this year. That hasn’t stopped his creative juices from flowing or his creative output, though.

In 2020, the Alabama-born emcee dropped his second full-length album Negro – introducing a soundscape radically different from his 2018 debut release, ensley – and found himself in front of new listeners. Later last year came his collaboration with Virginia native Fly Anakin on the Dilla-esque project, FlySiifu’s.

Pink recently chatted with musician and Resonate board member Z about some of his releases from 2020, how this year has had an impact on his career (as well as him and those around him), and what the Resonate music streaming co-op means to him.

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What’s good, Pink? How you feeling?

Man, wah gwaan, my bredren? 🖤 Stanks for this link and introduction.

Can’t call it, g; good and bad, for real. This year been a wild one, but optimistic nonetheless, and grateful for everything that’s in front of me and around me. A lot of opportunities feel like opening up for me and my friends, so “optimistic and focused” is how I’m feeling, I’d say, but also, my brain really fried at how shit is right now.

Man, thank you for doing what you do. And I definitely feel this. I’d say I feel hopeful just as much as I feel frustration, as weird as that sounds. Really crazy connections and work happening behind the scenes, as you know. A lot of people aren’t willing to put up with this status quo anymore and are working together to build autonomy and find freedom.

Exactly. Been loving the connections you been making with BSA and everything derivative from that. This year really set the tone and knocked everybody across they head, one by one. It’s been beautiful and frustrating to see the eyes awake along with the mouths, ’cause you get to see who is really on the same side and share the same values. For me, it’s been a lot of clarity and self-discipline in how eye wanna move and who eye wanna move with. Transitions and commitments. It’s a time that is going to make a lot of dominoes fall, and we’re seeing some of them firsthand. This another example of “cause and effect,” but eye feel like we know what the effect can look like, so everybody tryna frame that right now the best they can. It’s “fuck 12” on many blocks right now, though, and that’s important. It’s a lot of knowledge getting shared on capitalism, patriarchy, imbalance in communities, and how to find that balance, and that’s important. A light on the real devils out here, some even looking like our own. The conversation without judgment starting to look more accessible and that important shit starting to beat the dumb shit, at least in my radius. Really get out of the way if you bullshitting about freedom right now and exploiting folks; it’s that time.

Bruh. Preach. I’m feeling it too. Even amidst this mental fogginess COVID-19 is bringing. Speaking of that, has COVID-19 had an impact on your creative process or output at all? Positive? Negative?

100%, g. Eye thrive off of being social and also traveling. Shows, going to shows, all that been out the window. It’s been fire to just be on regular timing, family shit, and just chilling with the Queen at the crib, but eye be bored as shit lol. Definitely waiting for nxggas to be able to be around each other again. But the hibernation been good.

That’s an interesting perspective to have right now, I feel. In the sense that, it seems like most people are really struggling with the isolation on an entirely different level. I’d say “hibernation” has been my default for years now, but I’m also eager to be around friends again (you included).

Bro lol eye miss bars and eye don’t even fuck with bars, for real lol. Eye miss the homies, eye miss you, like, we’d all be out linking across the states right now, on some Captain Planet shit lol but that shit coming soon. It’s been fire and grounding to really have hella conversations with folks before engaging. Shit kinda feel like MySpace ’cause we can’t go nowhere lol. But all we can take from this space, in my opinion, is to reach that next level we been lagging on or getting distracted from (or at least try).

At least try. Yes. I feel that on many levels. Everyone has two options: keep going with how things are going and hope that things somehow magically change, or be bold enough to try to work with others (and yourself) to make a new way. Everyone has those same two options, no matter what the odds are. Odds are irrelevant on that point. Thank you for saying that. In terms of this COVID-19 moment, this was when I actually first heard your music. It was your album Negro that first exposed me to you and your work. Some of my good homies were playing it nonstop, sharing it in their Instagram stories. My “outsider” interpretation has been that that album did something special for you in terms of bringing you attention and connections you may have never had before. Is that fair to say? And if so, do you even care for that? Do you see each project as something that can hopefully put you on a trajectory to greater stability like most artists do? How is your music situated in your life right now, and how do you want it to be situated?

Eye definitely feel like each album puts you in a different opportunity or room in the house, I’d say. Eye try to take each project to a [sound] or a place eye haven’t discovered yet, and folks gravitated to that with [Negro], both positively and negatively lol but real genuine, and that’s what eye fuck with the most ’bout what comes from a project release. The decisions, actions, reactions, planning ahead, juggling, staying focused, and money management will keep the stability at a rise. That’s never really in the songs. It’s more about what the artist can do after that brings that stability. My shit situated outta my heart and blood already ’cause it’s deep in my music. The other shit is what has to go into effect afterwards, in my opinion. We all got different goals, though. I’m really just trying to own shit, for real (create space for the next; stability and foundation important for that). So eye see my music and the art helping me and folks around me, as it already has, but in a consistent way that progresses. Nxggas just gotta get off bullshit all the time, stick together, organize, mobilize, hold homies accountable, and survive, and we’ll see it.

Speaking of “sticking together” and “being organized,” do you feel like there is more camaraderie between you and your creative peers in this moment, or competition and tension? Do you feel like the energy is more communal right now, given the state of the world? Or are people still on this “crabs in a bucket” mentality in your particular corner? What’s your interpretation there? How does it make you feel?

It’s weird right now, ’cause eye can’t really tell or read how anybody’s feeling. It’s easy to get in your head too and make up shit that ain’t true. Like, “Damn, do she even fuck with me for real?” Or, “Damn, is he mad at me?” Or, “How they really feel about my art? ‘Cause these nxggas never share my shit lol.” That shit could be at an all-time high right now, but that’s why it’s been important to tap in and check with yo folks. This year, [there has] been a lot on my head, so eye can’t tap in as much as I have in the past, but certain homies remind me that, at the end of the day, we all we got. Yeah, we might be in competition in theory, but there is no real competition, ’cause we all under Allah, and it ain’t no favorites; it’s just respect, love, and honor. So eye been tryna remember that and stay connected to those eye share values and passion with. Everybody ain’t yo friend, though, and it’s important you have a circle that reflects where you’re from and who you are in every single capacity and emotion.

I feel all of this deeply. I feel like it’s an entire discussion in and of itself. Speaking of values, though, I know DIY is super important to you. And I know removing as many barriers as possible between your art and your fans (and potential fans) is also key to you. What stands out about Resonate on these fronts to you? Why are you messing with the platform?

Eye mess with any platforms that appreciate any artist of any position using that platform without separating them by the amount of people supporting them or the different high-level machinery they have working for them. Resonate fucks with artists as humans should fuck with each other. The relationship so far has been nothing but simple, respectful, and direct, and it lets me help […] make [the platform] better. They care about how much the artist is getting paid and how much of every relationship going forward should be an actual partnership, and not a boss or higher-up [dynamic]. Resonate lets you customize yo account and page exactly how you want it, and [helps me engage with my community] exactly how eye wanna engage with my community. Every page an artist has that listeners can access publicly is a community you should be able to garden, and [Resonate] lets that be a little more possible with [the growing exchange of] conversation and ideas […] between the Resonate [platform] and the artist. A rare treat and needed meal, for real.

I feel the same way, man. As an artist who is also involved with Resonate on the back end. This is the only way to go to me at this point. Artist control. Community control. Cooperation. Going against hierarchies. That’s how we get back in touch with (or stay in touch with) who we are as humans and build healthy creative communities.

Bro, you put me on. You put a few of us artists on to have actual cooperation and communication between all involved with each other. Before our conversations, eye never really thought of dual power and how we can exploit, just like the 10%. We really in a shift, and it’s important to have balance at the same time. Can’t have none of that without a clear foundation, so eye feel you, for real. This the only way to go to get to that point. This community and code of ethics we making now can mean so much and do so much for generations to come.

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Join Resonate to stream Pink Siifu’s 2020 release, Negro. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter.