One of the most surprising records for quite some time, self-professed degenerate Ricky Hil has fashioned himself a stylish and surprisingly authentic album in SYLLD. The son of fashion billionaire Tommy Hilfiger, Hil is able to call upon a host of stars and expert producers, as evident in opening track ‘Slicksville’, a refined and stripped back example of the contemporary RnB which friend and collaborator Abdel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) is so widely acclaimed for. Dejected, dry vocals sit on a bed of tight beats and distant, ghostly female whispers as Hil talks of his reliance on an unsatisfying party lifestyle, a theme which yields a sense of isolation, desperation and futility throughout.
It would be easy to dismiss SYLDD as the attention seeking party-mongering of a spoilt rich kid, were it not for its genuine sincerity; Hil doesn’t call for approval or sympathy, but accepts the dysfunction as his own mistake, alluding to an inevitable premature deterioration. ‘I Can’t Stand’ exemplifies this brutal self-assessment, with lines like “I’ll be just as gone tomorrow as I was today” delivered with apologetic tones rather than braggadocio. A fantastic cameo by Tesfaye on ‘Nomads’ is another highlight, whilst arguably the most powerful track sees every-shade-of-beige Leona Lewis dispel such a tag in the slow melodies of ‘Fix Me’. Followed by closing track ‘M.O.M’, it creates a poignant end to an album rooted in dysfunction, acting as an apology for the wasted life which Hil is unable to change.
A shame then, that the appalling ‘The Professional’, a desperate Liam Best-esque declaration of sexual prowess, found a place on an otherwise intriguing album, an inclusion which speaks stronger than any lyric could of the negative mental impacts of excessive drug use.
(Meant to be released by Warner, but now exclusive on Noisey)
Words: Andrew Kemp