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Let Sainvil Guide You Through This “Mad Bad World”

By Donna-Claire Chesman on

Miami-born, LA-based Sainvil has had a tough go of quarantine. Who hasn’t? The Alamo Records R&B artist found himself vexed between the state of the world at large and the ongoing injustices plaguing the Black community. Though this February saw the release of his EP, In Bad Shape, and though Sainvil had already poured his heart out, something told him there was still more to say. And, this time, there was positivity to spread.

On October 28, Sainvil released 2020 Was Hijacked, a rumination on the hellish year. “Boxed In” features direct dispatches in the form of lines like “They’re killing us all so often” and “This world we cruising, is built for losing.” The music might be sonically enjoyable, but once you dig into the writing, you can’t help but feel Sainvil’s pain, worry, and the weight of your own responsibility.

“A combination of this mad, bad world we live in, and working with people who’s [sic] production didn’t make me feel corny about reflecting on a young person trying to balance being about a cause, and not forgetting to live life,” Sainvil explained of the song on Genius. “I think it’s important to bring up the fact that these things should be equally important. We must live.”

There is life on 2020 Was Hijacked, in the form of standouts “Sweet” and “HBK” with Harlem darling Melii. Sainvil provides introspection and levity in just the right doses. 2020 goes down as a balanced EP, a sign of the times meant to challenge and soothe the listener.

Aside from making music, how have you been keeping stable during the quarantine?

I do have a special routine, but every day is indeed different. There’s no such thing as a normal day during this time. We’re learning how to live again, in a weird way. One-thousand percent, I’ve been good. At this point, I just feel like either I win, or I let the world win. I’m pretty sure you’re in the same bag because we’re on the phone right now; you feel me? We gotta make it happen. We still got goals, and those goals don’t go away.

When we last spoke, you said, “The pressure in my life comes from the people I love. I have this weird clock in my brain—I feel like I’m battling time.” How did pressure and time influence the new project, 2020 Was Hijacked?

Truth be told, I already had another project. I feel like the time wasn’t the enemy this time, so to speak. The enemy, this time, was the message and trying to make sure the message got across correctly. I like to leave things open to interpretation, but I also want there to be a general idea and purpose. Yo! I forgot how deep we got last time. I feel like I’m talking to family, again.

This project partly revolves around injustice and your experiences in quarantine. Why was it personally important for you to speak on the state of the world?

I felt like everyone else is going through the same exact stuff, but nobody was talking about it in a realistic way. No one’s a 24/7 freedom fighter. Not even Dr. King. He went home and had to sleep, too. This is about trying to stand for something and still being a human. It’s those moments. It’s about making the person who feels related to this subject or this project understand they too can be out there doing the work. It’s all about making it 360: how you feel, what you believe in, plus your goals.

Do you find it healing to address these things?

Me hearing me expressing myself helps me understand exactly how I feel. It helps me face it, and it’s like therapy. There’s this other feeling I recently got tapped into, having music with a message… I don’t want my legacy to be all I offered was more music about getting messed up. At this point, what I leave behind and what my family’s gonna be known for, it’s gonna be positivity and realistic viewpoints. At the end of the night, this project is about—my take on it—these groups of kids who stand for something but also don’t want their time to be stolen from them.

There’s a lot of kids that didn’t get to do the things we got to do coming out of high school. Their time has been stolen from them; their experiences have been stolen from them. So I’m reminding people to have fun and to experience some sort of happiness.

That’s like “Sweet” being a break from the severity of the EP.

Exactly! That little section into “Tom Brady,” then back into reality. At the end of “Tom Brady,” I tried to, with the skit… You hearin’ the old head criticizing the way they moving. “Y’all out here tryin’ to live?” I hate the fact that it’s always about what we doing when we were given the world in this condition.

How was it working with Melii on “HBK”? She’s a favorite.

She’s an angel! I wasn’t in the studio with Boogie or Melii, but the way she interacts with me… I’m new, I’m out the gate, and she’s pretty up there. Her unique style and her deliveries are always crazy. She interacts with me like we on the same level. She’s dope. She don’t carry herself Hollywood. Boogie’s not like that, either. Boogie and Melii, they over-do [respect], not in a negative way. They always care about genuine interaction.

The “Tired” interlude is really powerful, too. The line “I used to feel safe, but not no more” is very poignant and of the moment. Can you talk to me about the feelings behind the track?

Ha, man… It’s gotten to a point where you can’t be ignorant. You see [police brutality] happen so often. I genuinely do not feel safe. I used to feel safe because it wasn’t in front of my face. Because you can’t trust the news, we’ve made our own news: each other. We just leaning on each other, and we just wanna love each other. For me, it comes from not being ignorant [of] it not being safe out here. At any moment, it could be me or one of my brothers.

Growing up, in my hood as a kid, I used to always “fit the description,” and I used to believe that. I’d be sittin’ on the curb, lookin’ stupid, until I got older and, “Nah, man, this is y’all’s excuse to fuck with me.” This is just the way my people are treated. “I used to feel safe, but not no more.”

If you had to boil it down, what’s the 2020 Was Hijacked mission statement?

This is for you to live through. Remember to live because, without those little moments of happiness, there is no hope.

Photos by Kevin Wright.

InterviewSainvilR&BMiamiLos Angeles