Originally presented as an Odd Future splinter project, alternative R&B band the Internet conversely distinguished themselves with their debut album Purple Naked Ladies (2011), not only as they relate to the collective in which they are rooted, but to their genre at large. All along, they’ve deviated significantly from hit-seeking commercial R&B with a creative mix of played and programmed instrumentation, understated vocals, and modes including blissful throwback dancefloor cuts, same-sex love ballads, and exploratory instrumentals. The band started to place a greater emphasis on traditional songwriting with second album Feel Good (2013), and fine-tuned their approach with Ego Death (2015), which hit the Billboard Top Ten and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album. Fourth album Hive Mind (2018) was led by more of the band’s sun-splashed, retro-contemporary grooves.
The nucleus of the Internet is singer, songwriter, and engineer Sydney Bennett, aka Syd tha Kyd and simply Syd, and producer Matthew Martin, known more commonly as Matt Martians. Prior to the band’s arrival in 2011, Bennett, a native of Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district, produced tracks by Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and Mike G. She also mixed Tyler, the Creator’s Top Five pop hit Goblin, provided vocals on a handful of the album’s cuts, and recorded some low-key solo material. Martin, originally from East Point, Georgia, also had credits on OFWGKTA releases and operated as/with the Jet Age of Tomorrow and the Super 3.
The band made their proper debut with the 2011 release of “Love Song – 1,” a tender, left-of-center ballad that had more in common with Meshell Ndegeocello than with the year’s pop-R&B hits. “They Say,” a sparser cut featuring Tay Walker, appeared on the 12 Odd Future Songs label compilation just ahead of Purple Naked Ladies, an album released digitally that December and on compact disc the following January. Follow-up Feel Good, highlighted by the loose disco groove “Dontcha,” arrived digitally in September 2013, and five months later on CD, with a more organic, sometimes seemingly improvised approach.
Ego Death, issued in June 2015, boasted refined and yet characteristically frank songwriting from Bennett, highlighted by the lovelorn Kaytranada co-production “Girl,” as well as increased input from the band’s solidified lineup featuring Patrick Paige II, Steve Lacy, Christopher Allan Smith, and Jameel Bruner. The album debuted within the Top Ten of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and hit the top half of the all-genre Billboard 200, affirming the group’s high standing in Los Angeles’ vibrant community of young R&B, rap, jazz, and electronic acts. The Internet subsequently worked on a batch of solo and collaborative projects and returned in 2018 with a roller skating jam named “Burbank Funk (Roll).” Hive Mind, the band’s fourth album, arrived that July. ~ Andy Kellman