“Bento Box / American Dream” single art

Cultural identity is a part of almost every facet of life, especially the arts. Whether one is of a certain race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or age, these aspects of ourselves are sure to come into play one way or another. And especially with May celebrating AAPI individuals, it’s very appropriate that up-and-coming R&B artist Sylo offers up a double single about such topics with “Bento Box” and “American Idea.”

“Bento Box” is the first of the two tracks, and by far the more boppy one. There’s a plethora of food-related lyrics, such as, “You’re a bento box of favorite features,” “You filter out / What leaves me drained / You’re my caffeine” and “And I’m sipping on every type of Kool aid,” but it is ultimately a warm, pulsing song that speaks to the romantic in us all. It speaks to a more general kind of love — the type that happens at the onset of a relationship, and assures all involved that everything will be okay. The “Bento Box” of the song’s title references Sylo’s Asian heritage, and serves as wonderful metaphor for how satisfying new love can be.

You can watch the visualizer for “Bento Box” below:

In contrast, the second track, “American Idea,” is a much more subdued take on love and relates directly to Sylo’s upbringing as a Korean-American in a Christian household. In the song, Sylo grapples with how romantic love doesn’t come so easily when one lives with a multi-faceted identity — referencing how he tries to avoid falling into Asian male stereotypes, doesn’t see himself as conventionally attractive and technically has two names, one Korean and one “American.” It’s a contemplative track that effectively explores the role of identity in American social and romantic politics — all to the sound of hip-hop beats and vibes. As Sylo himself states about the song’s meaning:

“I wrote American idea to reflect on my life, particularly in love and identity … I realized growing up, how love that was portrayed in media (mostly Western) really played a part in creating this unrealistic and unhealthy view of love. It also caused me to disconnect more with myself physically, as I found everyone I was looking up to and fantasizing to someday be, did not look like me. I then soon found myself digging deeper and finding even more nuanced characteristics and views I had that was so deeply ingrained with Western media in general.”

With “Bento Box” and “American Idea,” Sylo continues his rise within the R&B genre as a promising stand-out act. His unique background and obvious talent are present on both tracks and promise great things to come as he continues to release more dreamy, melodic tracks. Sylo just finished a tour with MICHELLE earlier this month, and plans to release more music and announce more tour dates for later this year. In the meantime, you can listen to both “Bento Box” and “American Idea” below now!

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