“I feel like the lack of travel [during the pandemic] kind of made me lean into travel because that's when I was my most creative,” Masego explains to Apple Music about the inspiration behind Studying Abroad. Conceptually, the EP, which follows his 2018 debut album Lady Lady, latches on to relationships and filters their ebbs and flows through the experience of taking trips. “I was like, 'Let me think back to when I first got my passport, think back to when I was first in this place or in this relationship or whatever thing that didn't go well'—when you dipped into those uncomfortable places,” he says. But musically, the singer and multi-instrumentalist uses those themes as a catalyst for displaying his development. In effect, Studying Abroad sounds as blissful as the vacation the pandemic has kept so many from.
Across the EP's six songs, relationships bloom and decay atop a soundtrack that culls influence from across both the geographic and genre spectrums, as Masego adds his own singular touch. “I'm just experimenting,” he says. “I started learning to play piano better, to play sax better, and I wanted to put all of this growth on a project. I feel like I've leveled up in many ways. Before, I was young and just messing around, and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but I feel like this time, I'm leaning more into that grown Sego.” Here he talks through each of the songs on the EP.
“A fun fact is there was another song that was supposed to go on the project that I took off because it didn't start the project right; if that first track doesn't hook me in, I'm out. I'm going back to my old playlist. But this one felt warm to me. The music felt very inviting. I loved the music, that was cool. And then it just begins a journey, because it's like everything kind of started for me when I started traveling. Played it a million times when I was driving, and I was like, 'Okay, this is like the first track. We lit.'”
Silver Tongue Devil
“I feel like I wanted to kind of give more info on my father's side, which is Jamaican. I like my version of being Jamaican, because I ain't out here with the patois and all that, but there's a certain cadence and a certain approach I take to music that is very ideal with the Jamaican culture. I feel like some people think I just listen to jazz all day for whatever reason. But I was like, let me just tell this Jamaica side story. I love when I have a person to aid with that, and Shenseea is very grounded in that culture. And so to have her on the record made it make more sense, and I think she bodied it as well.”
“People have been tweeting me, 'This is the collab I didn't know I needed.' But I listened to Don Toliver back in 2018—that little purple EP [Donny Womack] with 'Video Girl' and 'Backend.' I like those trap n***as that can sing. I'm like, 'Bro, you can sing. Stop playing out here with this little hard life.' It made perfect sense to me because I saw through all the chains, the hats and the smoking. I was like, 'Dude, you can sing and you real nerdy. Come do it over here.'”
“I love tackling a cheeky topic, for lack of a better word, and hiding it, because this does feel real angelic and dreamy. It just feels real light and definitely was an interlude for sure. I should probably finish it later. The topic is polygamy, so it feels like we're on Red Table Talk, but at the same time it feels like we're just chilling in a meadow somewhere. And so it was just mainly to just show the frustration of trying to do a traditional relationship right and it not going well. If I just came up to somebody, 'You trying to join this dream team?' I feel like shorty would say yes if I just positioned it right.”
Sides of Me
“I feel like I was trying to get into my like Bryson Tiller cadence. At least I feel like before I made that I was listening to T R A P S O U L and I was like, 'Man, this man really knows how to be toxic, but in the smoothest way possible. That is phenomenal.' So I was like, yeah, let me just think back to this one relationship that ended mad quick just because I put too much in into month one. That second verse is my favorite—the whole 'If I keep this up, I might end up alone' and then 'Everybody leave me alone. Let me just make music.' I like just dipping into those emotions for the song.”
“That's a D'mile beat. I feel like it was me just trying to deserve to have the beat. So when I got it from him, I was just like, 'Yeah, I need to just pretty much hold my own on this.' So I kind of embodied the character of, like, Petty Pendergrass. It's very on the nose. You know what it's about. But I think it was just fun for me to just try different ways to be petty, but to hide it with a nice melody. 'Remember this bed, missing it bad' is like my favorite one. So it's cool because at the end of the day, I ain't trying to do no 112 cover. I'm not going to do it justice to me. But I can definitely do a little petty mixture, Bryson toxic thing.”