It always feels good when artists give us the opportunity to premiere something so dear to them. Thankfully, the big homie Sherif Mattar fresh out of Centreville, Virginia, reached out to us, giving us the liberty to premier his new sophomore album, Driving In Circles. Ultimately, I’ve been a fan of his after seeing him perform his song, Grammy produced by DJ J-$crilla, at an open mic at the late Bohemian Caverns in Washington, D.C. So this is a true pleasure to share with all of you Stereo Champions his latest release, first.
Mattar shares with us that the album title, Driving In Circles, has a double meaning. “The concept originally derived from the process of how I write my lyrics. I actually write all my lyrics in my head, a process I learned from Jay-Z and started developing when I was 18. I slowly began writing lyrics in my car on my way to work or school because it was the only place where I had no distractions and was able to focus solely on music, blast instrumentals through my speakers and just vibe out.” Like most artists, he definitely expressed gaining inspiration from the jigga man himself and it shows in his work as you can definitely hear the growth of his craft on this album. He also expressed to us that a majority of this album was written inside of his car, hence the title. “It also relates to my experience as an Uber driver, driving around in circles in the city and vibing out to my music,” says Mattar. He then went on to share, “The 2nd meaning behind the album relates to personal struggles that every human can relate to. I found that every time it felt like I was finally achieving what I set out to do and finally growing as a person, I would find myself right back where I started, falling back into old habits and losing sight of my vision. It’s like on new years eve where you make a resolution to eat healthy and hit the gym every day and start following your dreams, and two weeks later you find yourself eating pizza on the couch watching Netflix, putting off that novel you always wanted to write.”
Mattar also enlisted, Steven Padilla to produce the sound that you’ll hear on this project which is full of smooth cuts. It seems that they were definitely destined to work together as they both quit their day jobs at the same time, before relapsing and picking up 9-5’s. Shortly after they both ended up totaling their cars within the past 6 months which inspired the ties into the concept of the title, Driving In Circles.
“This album means the world to me, it’s basically a collection of stories of my experiences over the past year and how they made me grow into the man I am today.” —Sherif Mattar
Here’s my thoughts on the album:
Overall, it’s a pretty solid sophomore album project. You can definitely expect to hear a lot of word play as he’s ill when it comes to that. Here’s a bar from his track, Hold Your Applause, to prove it, “All the doubters was notoriously dead wrong, Steven loop the beat I got a lot up on my chest dog, I been around that loop since a hedgehog.” via Sherif Mattar
Clearly, he put a lot of work into this project with picking the right instrumentals with Steven Padilla. This is evident thanks to tracks like Keys To The City, which sounds like an east coast flip to the International Players by UGK. I love the breakdown midway through the track as well as it makes the song fill bigger than ever. Not to mention that his track, Perfect, puts a mean flip on the classic oldie track, Be For Real by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
So this is definitely an album you’ll want to add to your rotation because you’ll find a gang of gems and hear a story that you just might be able to relate too. More than anything did I mention the beats are looney. Here are my favorite tracks off of this project: Driving In Circles, Champagne, Hold Your Applause, and Keys To The City, Perfect
Also be sure to keep an eye out for all things Sherif Mattar as he’ll be opening up for Mobb Deep, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, Immortal Technique, Brother Ali as well as Taylor Gang in within the next couple months.