When Oakland artist Michael Sneed returned home in 2017 from graduating college in Washington DC, he didnʻt feel all that celebratory.
Trying to sort out the next step, student loans clapping back harder than Twitter trolls, he began working as a Starbucks clerk in a Safeway. After completing his course of study, graduating, then being saddled with the financial burden of that achievement, amid pressure from family to find a “good” job made him disappointed with where he was in life. Maneuvering through that transition period was NOT a course offered in college. He hit a wall of post-collegiate depression. Itʻs a real thing. The average graduate can face a debt load of $38,000 and a competitive job market full of underpaid and non-steady work. So when a student leaves the university bubble, itʻs a cold fate without signposts, and plenty of feelings of isolation.
New grads put high expectations on themselves and when those projections do not become reality, itʻs tricky to process. Sneed relied on creative expression to deflect the smell of stale coffee and those yips. Keeping a knee-level profile for a year straight, he and his friends put in that work and made a mix tape. Wax Roof, a Bay Area producer, oversaw and housed the sessions. Days We Lost (Text Me Records) is the result of these articulated words and ideas.
The 10-song 30 min-hang is an intense, fun, and quirky introspective work that ponders ideas of what exactly success is, traits a boy can escort into manhood, and choosing the right path. Which generally is not on life’s syllabus. SneedEmceeʻs songs, filled to the brim with inner meter punch lines and similes, conveying a fertile mind, playful nature and wise-acre charm. Making time fly. His ability to come off as this endless flow of precocious energy, a free-wheeling nerd who can still give that Town smoke when motivated, remains the ticket worth admission… You wanna hear those “Lake Merrit” stories told only by him. Fact or fiction is not important. Sneed is holding court, serving fools when needed. Everybody wants to stick around for those sick burns.
Moving at a scattershot speed, this 20-something artist, who fiends equally off of hip-hop, jazz, soul, gospel, funk, folk, and Broadway musicals, found himself again. Tapping into that pool of creativity. His rambunctious 17-year-old self, who went away to college and made a name for himself as an artist in the open mic circuit, through warehouse performances and local venues and festival stages, woke up.
“Hop-Scotch” a stop and stutter track, coined as his own “Hakuna Matata” is a personal “venting off” mechanism, to a world poking at his spot in life. Running back in the day tales and things learned from his childhood gives perspective as he navigates the in-between, approaching maturity. Itʻs by no mistake at times the song worms in and out of nursery rhyme timbre, and Sneedsʻ vocals push back and forth against the beat, assembling this vision, eventually, of him surpassing the structure that at one time constricted his voice.
On the inspirational “Reinvent”, which features O. Slice and Rebecca Nobel, notions of broadening oneʻs horizons keep up the narrative.”You can reinvent yourself if you want to/Trees keep growing/World keeps turning” find Sneed’s sage chorus adorned over a melodic, graceful tempo, with drizzling horns and churchly organ providing a backbone. Signifying direction.