Just pass Dean Van Nguyen the Old Gold
You’d be hard pressed to find a rapper with a less appropriate name than Boogie. In the realm of unsuitable guises, it’s along the lines of boxers Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham or Audley ‘A Force’ Harrison. Graham – a skilled southpaw – wasn’t exactly known for bombing out opponents, mustering just 28 knockouts in 54 fights, while Harrison proved anything but a force in the professional game. The Olympic gold medallist managed to land just one punch on target in his heavyweight championship loss to David Haye before succumbing to a third round knockout.
Boogie, you see, doesn’t really do anything of the sort. Thirst 48, his first full-length release, is one of the least danceable tapes imaginable. It’s a shadowy, woozy piece of hard boiled hip-hop noir; all blurred synths and crawling drum machines. And Boogie doesn’t so much spit as he does slurs, with his laidback style sometimes leaning into more spoken word territory than rapping. That’s not to say that Thirst 48 is an unfocused piece or that Boogie isn’t a very good MC – he is. The Angelino’s vocal stylings have accurately been compared to Chance the Rapper, though his favoured choice of beat couldn’t be more different than Chance’s bright toy chest of sounds.
Boogie arrives with a fully formed style that remains consistent over these 11 tracks and 38 minutes. Production comes from Caleb Stone, DK The Punisher and Sweetestlove, among others, who’ve put together an ambient set of cloud rap numbers. There are no forceful hooks; each track surely cut dead in the middle of the night over a bottomless bottle of brown liquor. “Numb”, for example, is constructed around three soft key chords and not much else, while the twinkling keys on “Save You” ride on some floating hi-hats. There are though plenty of sonic surprises sewn throughout to keep things interesting. “Black Males” boasts a striking Pink Floyd-ian slide guitar, while “Let Me Rap” features some soothing sax blowing all over the beat, which quickly had me retreating to YouTube to revisit Big KRIT’s similarly vibed out “Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed & Encouraging Racism”.
Meanwhile, Boogie spills some great lines throughout, his greatest strength perhaps is his ability to drop pocket lyrics that catch the ear. “I’m like a bougie soccer player, I can’t kick it with niggas who ain’t got goals,” he says wryly on “Let Me Rap”, while “Bitter Raps” is just wall-to-wall earworm lyrics. But Thirst 48 does have some recurring themes. A member of the first wave of post-Kendrick LA rappers, Boogie offers a similarly introspective look at California living with memories of adolescents, odes to love interests and, particularly, warm portrayals of male friendship. And like Kendrick, the 24-year-old is quick to acknowledge his roots, going as far as to include snippet of a Tupac interview on “Still Be Homies”.
“Westside”, in fact, is the closest thing Thirst 48 has to an anthem, as Boogie asserts his allegiance to his coast. But this is not a tape to throw on while cruising the hard concrete of Los Angeles’s sun drenched boulevards. This is one for to spin in a small room, late at night. Food for the brooding, you might say.