Dijon is the king of symbolism on his new EP

Monday, March 11, 2019 - 9:13am

Dijon

NOSELL

He’s everyone’s favorite secret. Dijon sits just below the surface, on his way to breaking through the underground with shout-outs from acclaimed artists like Brockhampton, and a YouTube comments section that spans from “you’re so underrated it hurts” to “Dijon could pee into a mic and I would still cry to it lying on my back naked.”

The YouTube populace has spoken correctly. Dijon’s new EP Sci Fi 1 is the music you cry to, preferably stripped down naked while showering in the dark, floating freely through the intimacy of his sound yet still bound by the walls of the shower (or the walls of heartbreak, in a metaphorical sense.) Dijon’s personal interest in symbolism inspires yet another allegory in response to his sound: Sci Fi 1 is a flow you want to rock your baby to, ensuring that the child grows up with the aptitude for loving Frank Ocean or Miguel.

Dijon’s crooning sound stumbles through the sadness of desire and longing, navigating a dazed space that’s extremely simplistic, yet transcendental. Most gripping, however, is Dijon’s symbolic ability, allowing for a short, three-minute song to take on the rhetorical effect of a full-length novel. In an interview with The Fader, Dijon explains, “There’s a pulling apart of American symbolism and ideas ... not to sound like a dickhead — (there’s) a human need for these symbols and signifiers as weird, abstract representations of humanness. That’s fascinating.”

For this reason, Sci Fi 1 elevates itself by addressing heartbreak with unpretentious and unannounced analogies that enables longing in a way that plain fact cannot. The “X factor” that makes Frank Ocean fans rock their babies to Dijon’s sound, however, is his interrogation of minorities taking on symbols used by predominantly white artists. Dijon is of Guamanian descent, and spent the majority of his childhood moving back and forth between The U.S. and Germany before attending The University of Maryland. In a similar manner to Tyler The Creator, his R&B sound is based partially on tropes of whiteness that otherwise would not be associated with his ethnicity.  

Arguably the most powerful track from the EP, “Dog Eyes” examines the abstract qualities of despondency. Guitar-driven with gaps of white noise, Dijon’s soft hum of a voice ascends from thinking of his intimate other with his eyes as wide, red, and finally, dog-eyed. With a quick trip to PetMd (vet authored and vet approved), it can be known that dog eyes enable a grainy vision that is a lot less vibrant, with more difficulty in differentiating between shades as well as human eyes do. Moreover, dogs see better in low or dim light as compared to humans. Personally, the inescapable ache and yearning for a lost vibrancy becomes more tangible to me when navigated through the lens of a dog’s vision, and lyrics like “A sea of grey and black around you, I get dog eyes when I think about you” come to life. The imagery of a dog’s glossed over eyes is a feeling the heartbroken didn’t even know they needed, as it animates walking through shades of gray and black.

Paired with his abstract inclinations, Dijon masterfully plays into the use of personal sorrows that, in actuality, are extremely universal. Everyone and their mother seems to remember a teenage summertime, which Dijon grasps in his single “Cannonball.” “Cannonball” complements the melancholy of “Dog Eyes” by stumbling into the space of a sensual ache. His analogies to cannonballs in the pool add undercurrents of coming-of-age to a song that otherwise searches for physical gratification. Paired with his upper range and the surges of aggression that disrupt the gentle guitar, the summertime breeze shivers down your spine.

If Frank Ocean holds your heart, it is absolutely critical to give Dijon a listen. Not to be misinterpreted, his creativity and artistry lands him his own personal lane separate from that of Ocean, but it’s as if he’s Ocean's second cousin. And who wouldn’t want to cry, laying on their back naked in the shower, to that crooning, intimate sound?