Head back, eyes closed, mouth open while singing words that connect to you and connect you to the crowd around you. Any onlooker can see the pure delight and euphoria indicative of a great moment during a live concert of a beloved artist. In this instance, the crowd sways and swells to the nostalgic tunes of Jackson’s own Dear Silas in his first concert since the start of the pandemic last year.
When talking about performing in his hometown, Silas Stapleton III, better known as Dear Silas, expresses, “It was great. Jackson is always great. We normally sell out Jackson every time I do a show and the energy is always there. It’s a beautiful thing just to know that the people at home are supporting more so than anywhere else. I think that was my best show to date.”
Dear Silas’ new tour features stops throughout the South, including Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; Shreveport, LA; Birmingham, AL; and Memphis, TN. To prepare to wow his fans – who he dubs The Village based off his song of the same name – and neophytes alike, Dear Silas dons a pair of his signature sneakers and takes to the streets to jog and rap so that he can amp up his stamina for the stage, creating a space of excitement and escape “where dreams don’t die”.
“I like to do a lot of stuff on stage. I’m not really a stand-in-one-spot person. I liked to be acrobatic. I might be flipping or jumping off walls and whatnot. When people come see you live, you really owe it to them to give something extra than what they’re actually hearing on a streaming platform or a CD.”
Plus Ultra (2020), The Last Cherry Blossom (2019), and The Day I Died (2016) make up Dear Silas’ official album catalogue. His first album, The Day I Died, is an ode to days full of life and a simpler time for those who are of the Millennial generation. “Gullah Gullah Island” and “The Wiz” harken back to classic TV and movies that impacted many but also simultaneously represent an escape and a state of being where there are none of the societal and systemic issues that Black people face on a daily basis. This album is based on his life and will be made into a live musical within the near future.
“In my writing process, even when I was writing The Day I Died, I’m always thinking about everything as a whole. It’s not just about a song. I’m thinking about [things including] what would the video be like at this portion. I’m thinking about the marketing. Or maybe I should pull back on this line because that might be a little bit hard to rap on stage with breath control. I’m thinking about the entire piece. Everything that I do, I want it to translate onto a bigger platform at some point.”
The Last Cherry Blossom is a testament to Dear Silas’ innovative writing and vision, solidifying him as a pioneering creative. His hit “Skrr Skrr” – a mixture of Trip Hop and Lofi Hip Hop sounds – solidified Dear Silas’ place among the best up-and-coming hip hop artists and landed him his first major deal with RCA records after a “Dexter’s Laboratory” meme using the hook of the song went viral.
His latest album, Plus Ultra, is a perfect mix of what makes Dear Silas one of the most successful hip hop entertainers to come out of Mississippi. It combines the nostalgia of his first album with hits like “Sailor Moon” with the cutting-edge marketability of his second album. During the pandemic, Dear Silas’ Instagram and TikTok videos, which used popular clips with Dear Silas’ original rhymes, gained millions of views. One viral video, created with the talents of @yungbbq – a popular influencer – dancing to Missy Elliott’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and Dear Silas’ rhyming genius was even retweeted by the hip hop legend herself.
Dear Silas is a trend maker, a lane forger, and a wave producer. His ability to discern how far to push his own creativity, and the work that is generated thereof, is uncanny.
“Every time I’ve had a big record, I wrote it down the night before I dropped it just so I [could] go back and look at my notes. I put the time next to it and everything. It’s self-affirming that I’m doing the right things and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
“Fate can happen. But, especially in a business like this where the mode changes like every other week, you got to have a level of discernment to stay consistent and really figure out how to stay in front, creating the next wave. That way, you don’t ever have to worry about falling off of it because you’ve figured out how large the wave is going to be or how fast it’s going to be moving while you’re riding it.”
There’s no doubt that if Dear Silas continues to be true to himself and his artistry that he will continue to make waves. For more information on his music and tour, visit https://www.dear-silas.com/.
(Photos by Destin Benford)