Sylvan LaCue could have sat back after releasing one of the years top projects, choosing to simply rest on the accolades and acclaim that came along with Apologies in Advance. The album, which dropped in January, was critically praised and commercially heralded – on it’s way to over 20 million streams, the independent release even caught the attention and courting of Roc Nation.
But rather than putting a dollar amount on an altered version of his dream, LaCue instead choose to focus his energy on the continued manifestation of his vision on his own terms.
As a fan, I’m grateful Sylvan LaCue has taken this path. While inking a deal with Hov’s label may have served the narrative of a “fairy tale” rap saga, it would not have fit very well with the journey that has been LaCue’s life and career. And it certainly would not have synced up with where his mental, emotional and spiritual self is seemingly at today.
I can vividly recall becoming quickly enamored with Sylvan – formerly known as QuESt – the first time I heard his music in 2009. At the time, I was newly acquainted with the vast arena of “underground” hip-hop, eagerly indulging in whatever new sounds I could get my hands on. With LaCue, there was something different about the music he was creating – a certain energy about it that captivated me on so many levels. While the iPod and laptop that held the various projects, loosies and features from LaCue are no longer available to me, I have held on to the countless memories of getting lost in his words while finding myself in the process.
Broken Headphones was the first full project I remember listening to, followed shortly by the uniquely enchanting storytelling that was Distant Travels Into Soul Theory. Over the years, it felt like new art would come from LaCue and then he would all but disappear, never sticking around long enough to catch the lasting buzz experienced by some of his contemporaries. But, man, I remember playing his mixtapes over and over, just itching for the next sign of new music from QuESt to pop up on one of my go-to blogs.
The time I spent at college and the few years after saw a whole era of artists rise up from the underground and catch the attention of a mainstream audience. But QuESt was always my guy – his music always hit me in a way nobody else was able to. The Reason: A Defense Mechanism and Fear Not Failure had a greater impact on my personal journey than anything else I heard over those years, underground or mainstream. To this day, those projects have helped push me to my greatest version.
When LaCue came back a few years ago with Searching Sylvan, I was ecstatic. The project came at a time when I needed it – as my life was changing, his music was providing the perfect soundtrack for my journey. And I know this isn’t about me, but because of this – and because of the countless times LaCue’s music has helped me, saved me, guided me – I’m thrilled to know Sylvan LaCue decided to keep pushing for his vision on his terms.
In numerology, 333 is a sign that your plans are going well, your angels are nearby to help you and that your prayers are being answered – what you’ve asked for is on it’s way. This new release follows LaCue’s “5:55”, which was an ode to Hov’s “4:44” – lots of numbers, but the meanings run deep. Sylvan took a chance by turning down the offer from Roc Nation, but he’s here to define his own success.
If you listen back through his catalogue of music – I’m realizing as I write this that I’ve been listening to his music for nearly 10 years – you’ll get to experience his growth and his journey through his own words. As an artist and as a human being, you’ll feel his pain, get to know his darkness, and see him rise through it all to reach the confident, self-aware physical vessel that dropped “3:33”.
I’m sure posts will be popping up praising “3:33”, analyzing the track and video…those will be great reads, for sure. Rather than pick apart the wordplay and layered messages present throughout the “Tribe” flip, I want to take a moment to share the video and reflect on the greatest lesson I’ve learned from listening to Sylvan LaCue for all these years:
Keep on pushing. No matter what life throws at you, if you have a passion, a vision, a dream…don’t give up on yourself.
There are a lot of people who may have been introduced to Sylvan LaCue over the last year, following Apologies in Advance. And that’s great. But it’s important to recognize that LaCue did not pop up out of nowhere with the album and suddenly catch streams overnight – he’s been putting in the work, getting knocked down and picking himself back up for years.
And he’s been doing it long enough to realize you don’t have to capitalize on every offer that comes to your table. Because if you have a vision, sometimes you gotta be willing to protect and nurture that vision no matter the cost.
In regards to the new release, flipping a record is an art form in and of itself, so props to LaCue for handling this rework of Bas’ J. Cole-featured “Tribe” so elegantly. While I’m on the memory lane wave, be sure to check out this throwback remix that caught my attention in 2011.
Enjoy the video below.