Chicago rapper Sey decided to look outside of the Windy City for his upcoming release, 100 Days of December. Linking up with UK producer AX, the two released the single "Know I" last month. Today, they return in true form with the single "Finesse", a track that comes with a feature from Roy French and production assistance from Ti$ci (who helped Sey on the single "ICFWU"). The single is the third piece of the 100 Days of December rollout and we felt it necessary to not only premiere the song for you today, but to also speak with Sey, AX, and Ti$ci about the upcoming project, how they initially connected, and what we can expect from the talents moving forward. If you need more from Sey before he releases 100 Days of December, take a trip back in time and listen to his projects Pray for the Weak (2015) and CHICAGO/worldwide (2014).
What's the concept behind 100 Days of December?
Sey: Winter in Chicago is brutal and at that time in 2013 I felt like everything was at a standstill. I was pretty much doing the same thing everyday; eat, sleep, and work. The job was terrible and to make matters worse, my friends and I got arrested walking down the street without knowing what for. We were taken two neighborhoods over to the scene of a robbery and pulled out the vehicle for the victim to decide if we were the ones who took her purse. After some hesitation she decided it wasn't us and we were dropped off where we had been picked up with a simple, "My bad". Shit could've been real worse, but I was pissed. Winter was already here for so long and I was becoming numb to everything. It felt like the month was 100 days. The project starts at Day 40 and progresses to 100 and over that time I learned how to adapt to the current environment and prosper.
AX: I think everyone has gone through a period that felt like Sey's story. Around that time me and Sey were going through different things but we had both found ourselves having a similar outlook on life. Originally the sound was really dark and kind of depressing as a whole. Over time we made more and more songs because we wanted to expand the concept and also the sound. I think we were able to develop the concept in a way which covers many topics and will relate to people everywhere. We also wanted the story to have a conclusion, some light at the end of the tunnel.
How did a Chicago rapper link with a UK producer?
Sey: I met another UK producer, Bear Blu, in a music forum online and we put out two projects and he recruited AX for our third project. Since then, I've worked with AX consistently and the bond has only strengthened.
AX: Bear Blu showed me Sey's song, "Let Me Know". I was immediately impressed and I knew that he had enormous potential as a rapper but more importantly as a songwriter. In terms of the location difference, it's never really been a problem because we can communicate and work together very easily thanks to the internet. It also helps that we're both pretty eclectic in our musical taste, we both like rap and it's many sub-genres, electronic, R&B, jazz, you name it. That also gives us a lot of musical freedom when we create together. I can send Sey any type of track.
What are you trying to get across with the single "Finesse"?
Sey: Just to show I can't be finessed. I made it through the situation with the cops and I'm still rapping. I've had a lot going against me the whole time. I'm not sweating the small stuff and the craft is only getting better. All that adds to the vibe. Plus, a track like this shows both AX and I can raise the bar and work well with other artists to expand our sound.
AX: As a single, "Finesse" is a song that you can chill to and vibe to. It feels confident, it encourages you to be confident. You can tell that Sey and Roy French had fun when they were recording. In the context of the album this provides necessary relief from some of the darker topics. It also works to explain the mentality that Sey is trying to express. In the past, we've made songs with the intention of them being singles. On this project we let songs become singles. The songs that became singles work organically because they can exist by themselves but they also connect to the overriding concept of the album.
How would you describe its sound to a stranger?
Sey: 2016 Cloud Rap™. But really though, in the overall picture, "Finesse" is necessary to the album's overall tone. The project starts on an intense note and this is a breather in the tracklist. Its message is masked in the slang used, but it's still clear as ever. It speaks to 100 Days as a whole. It's a more comfortable and confident sound. We're not trying to prove we can rap. We're proving we can make records.
AX: It has a dosage of ambience, along with trap drums and percussion. There are some really nice background vocals too, hopefully they can make you feel like you're floating a little. Ti$ci worked on a few parts of the track but my favourite contribution of his was the trippy outro that he did. We have a lot of moments on the project where we let the production speak to you in a different way.
Ti$ci: I feel like "Finesse" is the perfect blend of Chicago lingo and conscious rap.
Do you have any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?
Sey: Shout out everyone involved in the project. It's our best yet. Shouts to TheseDays for helping us showcase it as well. 100 Days coming soon. Pay attention!