It’s not everyday that a well known DJ drops an EP of their own original music, and for valid reasons — moving from behind the curtain to center stage is not always lucrative or desired by the DJ themself. With the release of Sorry I’m Late however, New York City nightlife staple Skype Williams projects a worthwhile message: putting out a solo release is worth the trouble if you’re being yourself and having fun throughout.
The 5-track EP is stylistically consistent with NYC’s archetypal “boom bap” hip-hop — no 2019 booty bass or bubblegrum trap to be found here. Williams’s distinction? His music reflects his own experience as an out gay, Black man with his head in the clouds and no fucks to give. NYC is a particular nexus of queer men in hip-hop, also being home or home base for contemporaries Le1f and Cakes da Killa in addition to queer non-male rappers like Young M.A and Mykki Blanco. This is a community that Williams is undoubtedly embedded in; Cakes himself makes an appearance on this EP and also featured in the EP’s release party. That said, Williams succeeds in offering something fresh: an honest musical journey that isn’t preoccupied with proving worth or asserting a status.
Williams offers adequate bars and production to fit his vibe of carefree and unbothered, if not a bit snarky. “Not Ya N****” chronicles Williams’s overly casual approach to gay hookups, with Cakes da Killa delivering a Biz Markie-vibe guest verse as a disappointed lover who wanted more. “Eddie Murphy” expands on this almost inherently contradictory nature of gay dating life: “You tell me what you like and what you wanna do / But then you step when I make a move / If you like it funny then I’m funny too / You Eddie Murphy? Then I’m Eddie too”. Whether Williams solely attracts messy dudes or is the covertly messy dude in disguise is irrelevant; as a gay person of color, I’ve been everyone involved in a situation like the ones Williams portrays, whether it reflected well on me or not. Sometimes queer representation in media isn’t unicorns and rainbows, but instead narratives that dignify us by humanizing us. And Williams’s bars definitely make me feel seen — even if I don’t feel seen anymore by some past hookups that I now have blocked on Instagram.
My favorite cut is the ephemeral “I Don’t Do Anything Right”, an interlude which clocks in at 1 minute and 3 seconds. The song is a perfect encapsulation of a persistent feeling of inadequacy that afflicts 20somethings on their grind, a feeling that often comes and goes without warning or fanfare. I had one of these moments in the past month where I was consumed with intense self-doubt, which in the cut felt insurmountable but soon melted away into coping via writing and room decluttering. Williams’s prowess is such that even an interlude in being conceptually incomplete or unstructured renders something profound and relatable not just in its content, but in its very existence.
It’s not clear whether Williams intends this as a launch of a solo recording career or as a passion project, but either way, the amount of fun this EP packs makes me excited for more. (And for any Boston promoters reading this, please book Skype Williams for a nightlife gig here soon. Trap brunch doesn’t count.)
Sorry I’m Late now available for streaming on Soundcloud. Follow Skype Williams on Instagram @skypewilliams for updates.
Hassan Ghanny is a writer and music journalist based in Boston, MA. For more of his work, follow him on Instagram @diaspora.gothic.