At the age of 16, Sydney Bennett began producing from her room at her parents’ house in Los Angeles. That year she reached out to Tyler, the Creator on Myspace and became the production engineer for Odd Future. Syd tha Kid’s career took off.
Syd, now 25, has built a career producing, mixing, sound engineering and singing. She started a Grammy-nominated soul production group called The Internet in 2011 and is currently touring on her debut solo album, “Fin,” released this year. The Always Never Home, West Coast tour hit The Catalyst’s Main Stage on Nov. 28 with special guests Buddy, Malia and DJ Osh Kosh.
“Fin” consists of Syd’s soothing, rhythm and blues vocals combined with funky electronic and ambient trap beats. The lyrics are a series of love and lust songs about queer women, for queer women. In addition to performing the album, she surprised the audience with singles from her collaborations with Kaytranada, “You’re the One” and “Girl.”
“She is also a queer woman of color, like I am, so [her music is] definitely relatable,” said third-year biology and art student Akira Starks.
Syd greeted the audience by saying, “It’s usually more women, but I welcome the dudes,” before dedicating her song about her crush on a successful woman, “Get Her Own,” to all the ladies.
Hip-hop is a male-dominated field, often with normalized violent and homophobic lyrics. As a queer woman, Syd is considered a trailblazer within the music industry for her nonviolent lyrics about romances with other women.
Syd engaged the audience of 250 with her robotic dance moves and intimate eye contact while serenading them with her sexy slow jams and heavy-bass bangers. The auditorium was filled with smoke and crowded bodies.
“She did a really good job interacting with the audience, she had a lot of audience participation which is totally key for any artist to do, especially in a small city,” Starks said.
Syd spoke openly to the audience about her struggles with anxiety and depression.
“I’m working on loving myself more these days and I promise I’m done with my insecurities,” Syd said to the crowd as she transitioned into “Insecurities.” She sang a slow version of the first verse. As her silhouette pressed against the illuminated purple backdrop, the bass dropped and the crowd jumped.
“You can thank my insecurities/They’re the reason I was down so long/ I’m hoping that you’re hearing me/ Or do I need a microphone/ Honestly I’m not ashamed,” she sang.
In her Odd Future days, Syd spoke to The New York Times Magazine about how she struggled with her mental health on tour due to backlash she received from the queer community about Odd Future’s homophobia and rape fantasy lyrics. She found herself torn between her sense of belonging with her crew and the public’s perception of tokenism.
“I was their get out of jail free card. It’s easy to say they aren’t homophobic because Syd is there,” Syd said to The New York Times Magazine, about her ultimate decision to leave Odd Future.
Aside from occasional interactions with her DJ, Syd focused on the crowd. She either gripped the mic stand and stood underneath the flashing white and black lights or flirted with fans recording her on their Snapchats.
Her hardcore fans in the front danced to the bass constantly, throwing up hearts with their hands.
“Y’all got any left?” she questioned, before closing the show with her sexy hit, “Know.”
“Baby don’t let me go, babe,” Syd sang, then, smiling humbly at the audience one last time, set the mic on the ground and walked off the stage.