Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce one of music’s best-kept secrets: Sylvan LaCue. Some of you may recognize him as QuEST, but he recently switched to his government name “Sylvan.” For ten years now, the Miami rapper has been making music that not only feeds the ear, but also feeds the soul.
When I walked into the listening party for Sylvan’s new album, “Apologies in Advance” at the Sugar Shack, I soon realized this wasn’t a typical listening party. This was a personal and intimate experience that fans would never forget. Huge thanks to Emily Berkey for the invite. Although I wasn’t brand new to Sylvan, I honestly wouldn’t have known about the event if it wasn’t for her.
With his project, Sylvan created real Hip-Hop with substantial lyrics that carry positive messages that listeners can apply to their own lives.
The entire room was filled to the brim and you could just feel the love and support in the air. Emily was chosen to moderate the Q&A, so I pulled up a bit earlier to actually meet with her and Sylvan. I always feel bad when I interview artists right before their big moment — whether it’s a show or a listening party. It’s their night to shine. But he was SO DOWN to rock with me.
When it was time for the event to start, Emily pulled Sylvan aside and asked to say a prayer. This resulted in the entire group joining hands, closing their eyes and thanking God for this moment. I was honored when they asked me the join the circle.
Immediately after a screen rolled down and the projector started rolling. The extremely hi-def video started to play and a raw interview of Sylvan flashed on the screen.
He was so transparent in the interview. So honest. So real. To the point that he started crying and couldn’t stop.
After the video ended the screen rolled up revealed Sylvan and Emily who sat in two chairs facing each other on the stage. She shared that they’ve been friends for a while and met in Portland. In their Q&A I learned so much about Sylvan, his music, his personality and how he wants to deliver music for the people — for them to soak up, learn and apply to their own life.
He also shed light on the venue we were in and how meaningful it was to have the listening there. It was the same place he shot the album cover and all testimonials.
SHOT/EDITED BY: JONATHAN BENAVENTE
Sylvan described his forthcoming project as an AA meeting, which coincides directly with the first letters in “Apologies in Advance.”
He told me this in our conversation earlier and it really resonated with me because I returned back to AA in the new year. I’m thankful Sylvan reminded me that I’m on the right path. He doesn’t care about the fame, the radio play, etc. His motives for this project were pure: he wanted to highlight the importance of mental health and self-care. A perfect example of this was presented at his show, which was drug and alcohol free. As for refreshments, the only thing available was healthy snacks and water.
To Sylvan physical health is just as important as mental health.
SHOT/EDITED BY: JONATHAN BENAVENTE
Then the projector displayed the title of each record as the project played from beginning to end. With the first song, the words “Best Me” popped up over a portrait photo of his good friend Kamil. This song set the tone for the entire album to come.
When I first heard it, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the message. “All I want to do is be the best me.” Don’t we all? His creativity even expanded into the tracklist, which is intertwined with the 12-step program:
Step 1 – Apologies In Advance
Step 2 – Getting Uncomfortable
Steps 3 & 4 – Becoming Yourself
Steps 5 & 6 – Distant Ally
Step 7 – What We Deserve
Steps 8 & 9 – Nature Vs. Nurture
Step 10 – Ain’t No Perfect
Step 11 – Full Cup
Step 12 – Apology Accepted
These songs and their steps speak for themselves. With them, Sylvan reminds us to live the best life possible. When he played “Selfish,” for example, I couldn’t help but just think, “Wow. He’s right. I do need to take care of myself.” I looked around at the listening party’s crowd and everyone seemed to resonate with the song in the same way I did.
DIRECTED BY: JONATHAN BENAVENTE
“5:55” was the last song played that night and reminded me of a story I did about Jay-Z’s #4:44Tour. Through that story I learned about numerology and according to its principles the triple number signals that big change is coming, so prepare for it now. I’ve shared some of my life changes for 2018, I hope you have a few of your own that you plan to stick with. If ever you feel like you get lost along the way, just bump Sylvan’s project and remember that if we want to see change in the world, first we have to change ourselves.