This month the Toronto MC known as Dijah SB teamed up with a fellow native (who also claims Montreal cause yeah I do my research) Joel Garden and graced us with their self titled EP. I expected nothing less than dopeness based on the series of tweets Dijah fired off in the form of personal updates leading up to this long awaited project but also because of my own experience with her music. So here’s the quick backstory okay. I first came across Dijah the day she received the honor of getting a response from the original big brother, Scott Mescudi. I’d be surprised at anyone who doesn’t know what this man has meant to my life but just to be clear, Kid Cudi is one of my all time biggest inspirations in general. So moving on, Dijah basically tweeted in slight dismay about using a mistaken Cudi lyric as the title for her project at the time, “Manic Luxury” to which Scott reached out to assure her that she was actually correct. Moral of the story is don’t trust Rap Genius over your instincts. Like many I came across the explosive tweet which led me to find her music. The track “Inhale Exhale” immediately impressed me and is still my favorite to this day. I complimented her song and she graciously replied with thanks. Since then I’ve kept an eye out for her music, listening to single releases here and there. One thing to note is that she has been pretty consistent as an artist, aiming to get better each time and that’s completely respectable in a time when the easy way out is spoken like gospel. Similarly to my comments on Eric King, I really do dig the fact that she is willing to go against the grain if it means staying true to her craft. With that being said I can’t say that I knew or didn’t know what to expect for this project but it definitely made going into the music more clear and open.
The project in its entirety only clocks in at just under ten minutes (approximately nine minutes and fifty-six seconds) so I listened to it over and over to just simply let myself feel it. “Can’t Live Without You” is a bouncy ode to prescribed medications and I’m glad that an upbeat instrumental was used to address this very topic. The juxtaposition of bright sounds and tonally dark/serious lyrics has always been something that interests me. So much so that I adopted it as a style within my own music when I started writing songs. Tamera Russell assists the track with her soulful vocals on the glitchy beat courtesy of Joel Garden before Dijah chimes in with painfully relatable words about the effects of mental illness and the act of treating it. I, myself have been prescribed various antidepressants since the age of thirteen and the emotions she speaks of could not ring more true. From the unmissable dependency on medications to the outright suspicion of them altogether, these are extremely genuine situations that anyone dealing with mental illness can attest to. It’s literally a roller-coaster ride of thoughts and emotions as crooned by Tamera towards the end of the song. The conviction in Dijah’s voice is unmistakable and I personally leave with an insight into her struggle with mental health.
With “Remember When?” I’m taken on a melancholy trip down memory lane over a smooth and jazzy instrumental. There’s a certain quiet ambiance to this track that makes it perfect for staying in on a rainy day while reminiscing. Dijah supplies lyrics that feel like a heartfelt poem in the midst of complicated but passionate feelings. She’s revisiting a past tumultuous relationship that was compromised by her own flaws, depression, and perhaps misplaced optimism as well as the subject’s own lack of trust, unhappiness, and dare I say insincerity while also addressing her current state of mind. Anyone who has ever left a toxic relationship can surely relate to the feeling of worthlessness, followed by the adoption or self mechanism of stoicism. It’s particularly even harder for those souls that have a huge capacity for love, the people that give the shirt off their back for the ones that they care about. A hardened heart is slow to trust. As Dijah examines the myriad of miscommunication she experienced with an ex flame, she truly resolves the things that are important to her going forward.
“November” is characterized by a very energetic persona from Dijah and a beautiful unorthodox boom bap beat from Joel. I absolutely love this instrumental, especially when the bass line comes in. It’s insane yet so simple with it’s sparkling keys. Dijah maintains a crazy flow like she’s eating fire literally as she throws bar after bar seemingly without any effort. The way she’s able to keep it witty and playful with lines while simultaneously taking on the uphill battle in her personal life is amazing. She goes from referencing Gabrielle Union to confident declarations of her talent with not only rhymes but with ladies before likening her stressful situation to chains on her back. She mulls over those that have wronged her in the past as well as non supporters all the while offering up one question to her audience. “Where will you be in the middle of November when it’s raining and I can’t calm down?”
I’m pleased with this new edition to Dijah SB’s work and can’t argue that she doesn’t go deep within these three tracks. I can admire her brutally honest approach and willingness to share a very vulnerable experience. Her advocacy for mental health coupled with her bravery in leaving her own ongoing struggles on display is truly powerful. The very nature of this artist is rooted in an authenticity that’s hard to fake if we’re being honest. I can only dream of allowing myself to be as unashamedly open as Dijah for now. I can’t highlight the success of this project without giving props to the man behind the scenes. It’s apparent that we might not have gotten such an exploration of Dijah without the soulful backdrop of Joel Garden’s beats. The more hungry side of her rapping prowess was undoubtedly propelled by his creation, culminating in a pleasant conclusion to the project. Joel’s beats speak to the simple but emotive genre of minimalism. With its elements of glitch, electronic, and leftfield hip hop I’ll definitely be checking out some more of his work. And I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing another collaborative effort from these two artists in the near future.
By Dij Ri’chard
Check out DijahSB’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/dijahsb/sets/dijah-sb-x-joel-garden
Hit her up on her Twitter: @DijahSB
Also check out Joel Garden’s beats here: https://soundcloud.com/jl-grdn
Hit him up on Twitter/Instagram: @joel.grdn
Hit me up if you want me to review you: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/abrighteyedbandit