Artist: Serge Boogie
Album: True Indeed
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Serge Boogie will always have a special place in my heart (no homo). Why? Well the review I wrote for his first little homemade EP was the very first review ever added to the Altrap.com review archive. Now of course you all know what has happened in the past 5 years with me – I’ve grow increasingly handsome, and my rep as one of the greatest in the game has steadily grown to the point where they smile in my face behind my back they talk trash etc etc. Or something.
What’s Serge been up to since he last checked in with us? Well the Ohio native (by way of St Petersburg, Russia you’ll remember) has remained true to the game, grinding away in the lab, biding his time before returning with “True Indeed”.
Those who have been with me on board this ship since we first set sail may remember that I advised Serge to ditch the producer he was messing with at the time (Squibcakes) and do more production for himself. I also told him to slow the fuck down, since he was getting all Talib Kweli on us, and that will never do.
I’d love to say that he took my advice, and that’s what has resulted in the changes evident on “True Indeed.” Shit… maybe he DID! All I know though, is that Mr Squib ain’t nowhere in the mix, with Serge flowing over beats from himself and his boy Eraq… and flowing smoothly and confident may I add – the brakes have definitely been applied (IN PLACES).
(Now you know if Eraq is really Squibcakes with a new name, then I’ve herbed myself here… but fuck it – we’ll work on the premise that this is a different dude.)
Nine tracks deep, “True Indeed” kicks off with ‘Crunchtime’, a self-produced underground-rap-by-numbers track, with kicks and snares in all the right places, and Serge going off… and off… and off… The boy definitely has some breath control skills… although you do get the feeling that he’s often rhyming with the main aim of impressing the listener with his ‘look-how-long-I-can-spit-without-breathing’ skill rather than for any skills on the mic. It ain’t a diss at all – Serge definitely brings lyrical skills to the table… but sometimes on this cut (and few others here) it seems to take a backseat to the display of breathing talents.
Eraq’s first outing on the boards, ‘Solitary Man’, is an altogether more mellow affair, with shimmering strings and a simple bassline melding together with a breathy female hook to provide the first bright spot on the album. Serge chills a little on the hotdogging (though it still lurks in the background), resulting in an enjoyable track which examines in detail Serge’s difficulties as a youngster adjusting with the change in surroundings from Russia to the US.
“Transitions made it hard to be ambitious,
Changes became repetitious,
Little kids can be so vicious,
Didn’t speak a lick of English”
‘Dunno’, a nonsensical romp over cellarhall pianos, picks the tempo up, with demented Beatle-esque samples fighting for position with one of the most idiotically catchy choruses you may ever hear. The one negative point is that with the increase in tempo we find Serge falling back into his old motormouth habit, cramming words into the bars like they were going out of fashion. Luckily with this seemingly a track for little more than comic relief, its easier to write off the mic performance here than if it were a ‘real’ track.
Unfortunately though, the very next song, ‘Whirling Dirvish’ is cut from the same cloth – another high tempo number, although with Eraq’s gorgeous production acting as a base, it is instantly more attractive than the previous track. But again, the major drawback is Serge’s ‘cramming’ tactics – its often a struggle to actually make out what is being said and to appreciate the lyrics, because there’s another bar jumping on the heels of the one you’re currently trying to digest. Seriously… what IS the rush?!
‘Junkyard Love’ is the high point on the album, with Serge laying down a funky bassline (reminiscent of Pharoahe Monche’s ‘The Light’) which bubbles along nicely as he runs off at the mouth about love lost…
“You’re right I’ve never been the easiest to get along with,
But I really did put in the effort and got the short end of the stick…
…You begged for me to hit it and I did it,
Finger entwined perfectly fitted…
…now instead of smothering we don’t communicate for months
and then she says she wants us to be friends,
maybe a test but always ran into the same problem of I was still in love with her”
‘The Skinny’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’ bring the cartoon vibe back into the arena, with ‘The Skinny’s’ kids sample and Sesame Street-styled horns flitting in and out of the mix, before an African incantation sample on the hook rounds things off in a nice way as Eraq layers some sharp cuts over the top, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ meanwhile exhibits classic symptoms of Bug Bunny on acid. For real – the beat is straight up Looney Tunes shit, with a distorted vocal hook helping to usher in a call for some liquid LSD.
‘Cat In The Hat’ and ‘Fresh Produce’ round things off. The former is a another of the brightest spots in the album, with the main reason being a straight return to the classic Hiphop blueprint – heavy drums, minimal music, and straight up fire on the mic. ‘Fresh Produce’ meanwhile ends things on a high note, with a Mos Def-ish performance on the mic from Serge as he valiantly tries (and fails) to understand the inner workings of the female mind.
Its nice to see cats improve as their career progresses, and its obvious that Serge has indeed been honing his skills both on the mic, and on the boards. His partner in crime, Eraq, also deserves praise for his production work, as overall the beats on the LP were of a high standard from start to finish. Apart from a few high-tempo stumbles, Serge’s delivery is worthy of nothing but praise. “True Indeed” is definitely something you need to look out for.