Compton-based artists have been celebrated for decades on their unique ability to portray the environment around them in their music. Kendrick Lamar took the listener on a journey through his way of life on the classic project “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” taking a snapshot of a traumatic series of events and cinematically showcasing the violent nature of his city for the world to see. We were transported into the minivan where Kendrick and his friends planned and executed a home robbery. We were holding Kendrick’s childhood friend Dave as his final breath escaped him after a shootout with a rival gang.
Boogie is a different kind of Compton rapper. The 29-year old takes the whirlwind of chaos surrounding him but chooses a different battleground as a setting for his struggles. On his debut album “Everythings For Sale,” his first offering since signing to Shady Records in 2017, Boogie highlights an internal clash or a ‘war with his reflection,’ eloquently stated on opening track “Tired / Reflections.” The personal subject matter is a stark contrast from the reflection of home many Compton rappers implement into their art and a huge part of what makes Boogie so special.
“I want my project to take people on an emotional roller coaster,” Boogie said in an interview with Billboard. “I don’t want it to be like this thing that’s all rapping or all melodies and you’re just bored. I really wanted to be myself on the songs, but take you through all these different feelings.”
These feelings are experienced immediately on “Tired / Reflections,” as subtle guitar strings embrace the vulnerable ramblings of a man growing impatient with himself. “I’m tired of working at myself / I wanna be perfect already.” The everyday struggle of life for Boogie is exhausting, and you can hear it in his voice — a haunting, raspy tone that hints at someone who finds their happiness at the bottom of a bottle or the tail end of a spliff.
“I’m a self-destructive person,” Boogie told Billboard. “I think my fans sometimes put me on a pedestal because of the way everybody else is rapping, and they don’t think I’m a drug head but I really be fucking up a lot.”
While a majority of the album deals in a melodic delivery, Boogie still showcases the lyrical prowess that caught the eye of Slim Shady in the first place — going toe-to-toe with fellow wordsmith J.I.D. on the standout track “Soho.” The two emcees trade bars and air-tight flows over fake friends and woeful industry meetings in Hollywood that they frankly don’t have the time nor the energy for. “I need the key to the door that’s been blocking out my inner peace,” Boogie spits. Even while playfully sparing with J.I.D., Boogie still finds the time to mention the pieces missing from his soul.
The highs and lows of “Everythings For Sale” are cut from the same fabric. The pinnacle of the project, the emotional “Skydive II,” is a beautiful and forlorn tribute to the insecurities of love with Boogie’s vocals at the forefront. On this track, his limitations as a singer are masked by lush instrumentations and heavenly background vocals. On other cuts, however, the limited range of his voice is exposed and result in some stale offerings. With his talent and potential as a lyricist, sometimes you wish he could cut through the gloomy atmosphere by showcasing his rapping ability more.
The production, from the laid-back melodic trap of “Silent Ride” to the spacious jazzy vibes on “Lolsmh,” give the album a smooth, melancholic feel. This non-flashy approach is a perfect canvas for the dense and vivid storytelling Boogie presents when discussing the suffocating weight he bears daily with his thin skin and lack of confidence.
“I can’t lie, I’m detached, I need guidance” Boogie confesses on “Silent Ride,” — an eerie omen reminding us the budding star is struggling with self-acceptance as a lot of us are. You can have the fame, fortune and even a path to stardom mapped out in front of you, but none of that matters if you can’t win the war with your reflection.
All in all, “Everythings For Sale” is a heavy listen and a debut that really encapsulates the true potential that Boogie has. The vulnerability is a refreshing change of pace from the aggressive rhymers that currently populate Shady Records and some of the shortcomings that plague the tape are growing pains nearly every artist deals with on their way to the top. What Boogie is selling is authenticity — an artist who isn’t afraid to bare his entire soul out on wax for his fanbase and the result is an impressive debut album.
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