Don’t sleep on it
Basi Vibe’s chilled R&B poetry
Somnus is the sluggish god of sleep. In Ovid’s poem Metamorphoses, the Greco-Roman couch potato lounges on a soft black chair, relaxed by dreams, dead silence and twilight from his cave in the Underworld.
Somnus is also Basi Vibe’s awakening record. Coming out of a creative lull, the Sacramento R&B poet and musician released his first album in April, named after the immovable deity.
“As an artist, I felt like I was moving lethargically through life,” Basi says, “… and here we are now, and I am awake.”
Basi debuted the six-song EP live at Highwater in Midtown on April 12. With moody red lighting and instrumentalists behind him, he sang to a bar filled wall-to-wall with patrons who knew the words, bobbing along to his chill R&B and atmospheric beats.
“I need you to quit all your playing, come and get some lovin’ baby, come and get some lovin’ baby,” he says in “Palm Trees,” fitting for a cruise down Pacific Coast Highway.
“Answers,” a lo-fi interlude under a minute, is Basi’s favorite track. A tribute to his biggest inspirations, he shouts out to his parents, grandparents, a friend that passed and a man he met in Oakland.
“The song is a realization that because all these people have the answers,” Basi says, “because I came from them, because I know them, I also have the answers.”
Basi makes music based on his poetry, inspired by spoken-word and musicians such as Domino.
“It’s just trying to fuse those specific sounds that people know so well—D’Angelo, John Legend, Frank Ocean—and using it with … the way that my voice works and the way that I play piano,” he says.
A jazz piano major at Sonoma State, Basi returned to Sacramento in desperate need of a change of pace. He’s focused on art since.
“I started to realize that I was just kind of wasting away,” he says. “I had my mind focused on the wrong things over there.”
Once in Sac, He “weaseled” his way in to the music scene, he says.
“Like what does it take for somebody to infiltrate an art scene, you know?” Basi says. “My formula was just to say yes to everything and step out of my comfort zone.”
Attending events and networking worked. Now Basi draws large crowds to his bar sets, including his “Vibe W/” sessions at Highwater, which present soul and cold funk every second Friday.
The soft-spoken pianist is the god of chill onstage. But when it comes his dreams, he’s restless.
“When I go do my thing, I’m gonna be ruthless about it,” Basi says. “And this is kinda how I see it, but it’s all for the sake of the thing that I hold very dear. And that’s the art.”