The year 2020 will go down in history as one that redefined the world in a dramatic way where we’ll look back and say (hopefully) that we made it through, and are striving to make a better improvements in life because of the constant trials and tribulations that were faced. From financial loss, personal loss, and few opportunities to gain, it’s been quite the experience worldwide, given that we’re still in the midst of a whole ass pandemic (that’s the only way to address it, really). The question is: how will 2020 be remembered? There will be movies in the coming years, there will be books, and there will be an abundance of art, but what about the music? There have been great pieces of music to come out, but what sounds will be defining when it comes to what 2020 represented? That’s to be seen, but for Dijah SB, who has had a complex journey, personally, and professionally, they have certainly given this album a true 2020 experience within itself.
For me, it started with I Wonder, because if you’ve been familiar with their catalogue (Dijah is non-binary, so you’ll see they/them throughout, out of respect for the appropriate pronouns), they were more focused on rapping with an intensity that was reflective of what the vibe of Toronto was at the time. Screwface Wicked was a mainstay, but then the transition was felt with Manic Luxury, their collab EP with Joel Garden in 2017, and Looking At Space from a Submarine in 2018 (Sauga Sunset is a goodie). The aforementioned ‘I Wonder’ signified a shift into a more dance oriented sound, and that was certainly a change, but it fit them naturally given the vocals & ability to merge that into a fluid sound that fit their personality. The overall production of 2020 can be traced back to a freestyle they did over Kaytranada’s Puff Lah, from his most recent album BUBBA (a personal favourite). That’s when I knew that Dijah had something up their sleeve, and thus the album was put into motion.
A very 2020 trend that was very positive, was an increase of crowd-funding, which is nuts, because a lot of people lost their jobs, so government assistance (shoutout to CERBaz) was the main proponent in funding endeavours that many people in the community were pursuing. Dijah was hesitant to drop a GoFundMe out of anxiety due to being perceived as ‘beg,’ but it was the right thing to do, because the community showed up. Toronto has a long & tiring history of not supporting their own, so the fact that people raised $3000 for Dijah, that was an incredible feat, and it allowed them to finish the album with regards to post-production and marketing. So as much as this album is for them, it’s for us as well, because it was a community effort to push the stalled car to the finish line.
The subject content of the album is filled with experiences that have covered Dijah throughout their career. Mental Health within the Black community is a major thing, and they have been open with their experiences for a long time. Suicide is an attachment to that discussion of mental health, and while it is triggering for many, it’s appropriate to discuss because of the fact that it’s such a taboo discussion amongst our people, often passing it off as a ‘White people’s issue.’ Mama Said is an example of that discussion, because as much as Dijah has contemplated taking their own life, remembering the ones who are important to them, it reaffirms that they have a sense of purpose in this world, and I know that’s a major thing for people in their 20s and beyond.
This album serves as a release (albeit, temporary) for the issues for Dijah’s life, because as dark as it has been, it won’t always be. If you follow them on social media, you’ll know that as rambunctious, and sometimes chaotic (I say that with love) as they may be, it’s a great feeling seeing them constantly manifest positivity & abundance in their life, because they won’t let the state of the world in 2020 bring them down, and that is a powerful attitude to have. Everyone is going through their own shit, but to have music be the reminder that we’ll get through our darkest times with bright outlooks, dance a little bit to shake the demons off.
What also needs to not be forgotten is the fact that Dijah can still rap their ass off, and has been rapping for a while. The elevated confidence is one that I can relate to in this year, and I’m proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish with a well-rounded and sonically pure body of work that amplifies the impressive resume, as their artistry takes a steeper climb towards the position they want to be in. You should definitely take in the album (here), tell a friend about it, and appreciate the journey that 2020 has taken all of us, so that we can look back and appreciate the greatness that came out of a year that looked so dark & hopeless.
But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review,
That’s My Word & It STiXX