Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
“Return of the rookie” is a statement that contradicts itself. If someone is a rookie, by definition, they can’t return because it is their first time showing up. But Serge has named his sophomore project this to shed light on how he feels as an artist, and possibly even as a person. Many artists are aware of what many call “the Sophomore Slump,” but after listening to this project, it’s clear that Serge is focused on other areas of his life more than if this project tops his last one.
The Story of The Rookie
There have been some who have asked, “What’s Next for Serge? Where has he been?” and Serge doesn’t ignore this truth. This entire project is a glimpse into the many things that have been going on in his life since we last heard from him musically.
From track 1, he addresses the questions in the song “Just So You Know.” This song bangs. Not only does the beat hit hard, the song provides clarity through lyrics that answer some of the questions fans might have. Coupled with that song, it’s immediately followed by “Zone” – which is about how Serge has been in the “zone”: focused, driven, and about his business.
But above all the things of dealing with music, ministry, and the like that have had Serge’s attention since Off Season, there is one big thing that clearly had it all this time: a woman. A portion of this project has to do with the brother either getting over, wanting to get back with, or admitting he doesn’t know what he wants with a woman he has had a relationship with. It clearly went sour, thus this project was born.
Talking about your feelings/emotions/situation in CHH isn’t a foreign concept anymore, so it’s not surprising when an artist speaks about real life issues in song form on their project. I wasn’t expecting that as I sat down to listen to the EP, but it didn’t shock me out of my seat. Serge goes from being honest about not being over her in “Over You,” to going as far as to checking up on her schedule to see where she is, to admitting to being all over the place with his feelings in “Voicemails.”
And many can relate to wanting to forget about a painful breakup, so you have fun and party as a replacement to numb the pain and forget about your problems. “Black Shades” is a funky track about having fun, but it leads right into “All Night” featuring Mau Nu’u, that shows how the devil seduces the sinful nature with promises of pleasure when it’s at its lowest point of being in the midst of the fun/desire to forget.
The project’s narrative wraps up with a ‘crossroads song’ called “Past The Clouds,” which features Michele Checa and former label-mate Oscar Urbina. It’s about the human condition – wrestling with hardships of life, God’s involvement in our lives, and all that comes with not getting what we want or what we deserve as sinful humans. In the end, we will all leave this sinful earth and there will be no more pain. It’s like the song says:
“Life will soon be perfect past the clouds.”
The Sound Of The Rookie
If you’ve heard Serge’s first project, Off Season, and enjoyed the eclectic amount of musical styles on it, be prepared for more of that. If you have not, know that Serge is a very versatile artist. There is no genre he is afraid to tackle.
Clearly he has hip hop tracks, but there are also songs that are EDM based, a funk song, a R&B song that is reminiscent of the classic 90’s tracks, and even rock! The bonus song, “Clutch” featuring Izzy, fulfills your trap/turn up quota, but besides that, Serge does things on this project that isn’t succinct with the genre’s current scope – and it’s a good thing.
The diversity in musical styles keeps the listener attentive to what is going on in the project. You can hear where Serge is going /what he has been going through as he opens up about his troubles, because the music creates a space for the storytelling to reach the heart. And since the styles change from song to song, your mind doesn’t start to daydream because they sound similar.
This project is diverse and very much about Serge. His first project had a lot of story telling in it, but not as focused on him as this project. That is not a bad thing, but if you’re looking for another Off Season, that is not what you’re going to get.
Return of The Rookie is more of an update to Serge’s life as opposed to a direct evangelism tool of sorts. We hear about where he’s been, what he may be battling with currently, as well as where his heart is pertaining to Christ. It has some good tracks on it, so if you enjoy Serge’s approach to music, this will be another project of his that you will enjoy.