Disclaimer: All views presented in this Mixtape Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
It’s funny how sometimes it feels like an artist just pops up out of nowhere. A lot of times people do not know how certain artists will get cosigns from artists bigger than them, before they even have a catalog of music under their belt.
I imagine that is how some may feel about Serge, who is a part of CTF Records. He is also a member of the group Authentik, but is currently working on solo work. They were able to get their own buzz with their group album Groans before Glory (which featured Benjah, Json and Sho Baraka). Perhaps that album is what opened up more doors for Serge. He has since featured on Flame’s Royal Flush and Json’s Braille. He even landed a spot in Rapzilla’s 16 Bar Challenge at Legacy Conference 2013.
If you missed the appearances listed above, he is now releasing his own project titled Off Season on May 13, 2014. In this mixtape review, we will look at what Serge brings to the table.
One of the first things noticed after listening through Off Season was Serge’s ability to rap over multiple beats without losing his own sound. He can switch up his flow and still maintain his own style and sound. A perfect example of this was on “Old and New.” The beat literally changes completely and he handles it with ease.
Also, “All I Want”, “Shake the Ground,” and “Murder” all showcase different sounds that are popular right now. “All I Want” has the trap music feel that makes you want to roll your windows down and get hype whereas “Shake The Ground” leans more towards the EDM/Pop sound, where Serge showcases his singing voice. “Murder” has a more laid back sound with smooth singing on the chorus, similar to the music that has been coming out of the South lately.
Although Serge changes his flow to fit the tracks, he does not sound like he’s imitating anyone that is out. The versatility he brings on Off Season is going to have his phone blowing up with requests to do features.
Every rapper has a certain style or sound that can distinctively sound different than other rappers. Some are skilled with their word play and others may deliver in a certain way that captures the listener’s ear. On Off Season I noticed something that seems to be one of Serge’s strengths. That is his ability to tell stories.
I remember noticing this ability on a song called “The Chase” on the Authentik’s Groans before Glory. Serge has the ability to rap stories in a way that pulls the listener in. He walks you through the story and you can forget that you’re actually listening to a rap until the chorus hits.
On Off Season, Serge has many moments where he uses this skill. He starts off the album telling stories about his experience with getting involved with hip hop and the people that he’s done music with.
On another song called “Still Here” he does an amazing job depicting the story of a married couple that deals with adultery. It was a modern day version of the story of Gomer and Hosea. He does a wonderful job of painting the picture of how ugly the adultery from the wife was and then flips it on the listener to remind us that we are just like the wife in our relationship with Jesus. It was a powerful song and a large part of that was due to how well Serge told the story.
This skill that he has is truly a gift and I think many people will be encouraged through the stories he brings to life with it.
Serge did not have many features on this album but there were a few notable artists to mention. He had a track with his label mates Oscar Urbina (“Bearing the Name”) and Los (“Beauty Queen Interlude”) did a spoken word interlude flooded with the word play he’s become known for.
Serge didn’t forget about his team (Authentik), with features from Woody (“Sway”) and Izzy (“King Kong”).
He also had features from Json, Braille and Social Club. Serge was able to show how strong his presence was because he brought it on each song and sounded like a veteran. The song with Braille, “Beauty Queen” was great because as I mentioned above, there was good story telling. They both did a wonderful job lifting up Jesus through their stories of redemption and salvation.
Serge is off to a great start as a solo artist with this project. The production, done by Mashell Leroy, was great for what was aesthetically put together. “Shake the Ground”, “All I Want” and “Sway” were all standout tracks production wise. If it was a trap beat, it banged, if it was an EDM beat, it made you want to dance. The production on this project was executed well.
Serge represents South Florida well with some of his upbeat songs that make you want to have fun, and he also does a great job teaching over tracks. All of his music points you back to Christ and tells about his love.
The only thing this project seemed to lack was a concept. I get that this was a mixtape, but it will be good if his next project has a consistent theme that listeners can follow. Other than that, fans and new listeners will enjoy this project.
‘Off Season’ is scheduled to be released Tuesday, May 13, and is now available for pre-order on iTunes, and will also be available for free download on Rapzilla.com.