Siya has joined a slew of rappers including Eminem, Cassidy and T.I. to take a stab at the dual-personality concept with her latest album, SIYAvsSIYA. The problem here is neither personality is very compelling, making for an album that is at times sonically pleasing but lacking in concrete depth.
Predictably, Siya’s warring sensibilities are her street self and her soft side. The first half of the album is dedicated to brash thuggery, with Siya kicking down the door over an ominous beat on the opening “The One.” The song sets a strong precedent as she makes a case to be considered amongst Hip Hop’s elite: “My reflection is the only opponent I ever noticed,” she snarls. However, things sour from there, with generic, store-bought thug talk hampering songs like “Body” and “I Know I Know.” There are no joints that delve into the motives behind her actions, nor any personal anecdotes of the street life that this concept album warrants.
“Clarity Interlude” features Siya speaking to herself via a phone conversation, and for a brief moment, it appears that she will dive head first into self-examination that the dual-personality concept promises. “You got beauty and brains, I got shooters and robbers,” she expresses to herself. However, hopes of further character development are slowly dashed as, song after song, Siya turns the latter half of the album into an elongated love ballad. The cuts themselves aren’t problematic — lovers laments “Nights B4 You” and “LOVEmeLOVEmeNOT” are particularly memorable thanks to impressive vocals and a genuine longing in Siya’s tone. However, they fail to detail exactly what is different about this side of Siya beyond her beating heart.
The most redeeming aspect of SIYAvsSIYA is its production. Though some of the album is muddled in the same generic, plodding spirit that pervades several songs, sonic highlights abound. “Weight Up” is infectious enough to be a radio-ready jam. “New York New York” is a triumph in nostalgia, complete with Curtis Jackson’s trademark “yeah” ad-lib as Siya pays homage to Rotten Apple giants of yesteryear. “Picket Fences,” with its sobering ethos, is Siya’s shining moment on the LP. Elegant piano keys underscore the penultimate track, which features the kind of reflection this album had been yearning for all along. “Look at all the drama I left behind/I used to be pressed for a dime, now I’m just pressing for time” she rhymes. Ashley Rose’s beautiful vocals add nuance to the track.
Yet, on the finale, “Bombae,” Siya reverts back to an obligatory “hold you down” ode which leaves much to be desired. She aimed to paint a picture of her duality on this album. However, by failing to color in her portrait, Siya leaves us with a half-blank canvass and questions as to who she really is. And her talent will demand listeners to want to know the answer next go around.