SonReal Delivers A Stunning 180 With New Video ‘Potential’

iHeartRadio MMVA nominee SonReal is up for Best Pop Video this year for “No Warm Up,” a song that exemplifies his catchy rhymes, and a video that’s true to his pop culture-filled visual collaborations with director Peter Huang. But, with his new single and video for “Potential,” SonReal is reinventing himself and showing a whole new side to his artistry. It’s time to get to know SonReal all over again.

If musicians were described as TV shows, SonReal would be the Gilmore Girls of the music industry. The West Coast artist is known for crafting songs that require multiple listens in order to truly appreciate the onslaught of finely crafted lines, in which he takes poetic license with every subject he touches on. But with his new single “Potential,” SonReal takes his time, giving his lyrics room to breathe and introducing listeners to Sonreal, the singer.

Unlike most rappers who periodically make failed attempts to sing, SonReal’s impressive vocals are worthy of an entire track. Sure, we’ve heard SonReal dabble with singing in the booth, most notably with his 2015 single “Try,” but in “Potential,” SonReal reinvents himself as a full-on R&B artist, adding yet another layer to his discography. Straying from his trademark sound could easily be considered a huge career risk for SonReal and one that he doubles down on with the video for “Potential.”

In 2015, SonReal used his busy touring schedule across the US and Canada as the backdrop for his video “Preach,” with director Dane Collison capturing SonReal giving his signature deadpan delivery across North America. This time the pair traveled all the way to China, shooting the video in and around Hong Kong.

Showing more emotion than we’re used to seeing, SonReal hangs out with locals, joining a basketball game, skateboarding through the city and taking in the sights as the slow grooving “Potential” plays overtop. No visual trickery, no pop culture homages, just SonReal letting the stunning backdrop and the smooth single speak for themselves.

With hindsight always 20/20, we should have seen “Potential” coming. As SonReal raps on his 2016 single “Preach,” the “moment that you think you got me figured out / I be coming out the blue,” and he’s right. “Potential” pulls a full 180 from what fans have come to expect from the two-time iHeartRadio MMVA nominee. For an artist with such a deep back catalogue, it’s even more surprising to feel like we’re just getting to know SonReal, but that’s exactly the effect that “Potential” is delivering. Is the title “Potential” a knowing wink from SonReal that he’s aware his new single will cause longtime fans and critics to reevaluate their expectations of the Canadian musician? As proven in “Potential,” don’t discount anything from SonReal.