Dean Van Nguyen has to keep it pushin’
Boogie doesn’t write songs about fatherhood, per se. He’s not about to record a Compton version of “Just The Two Of Us” for his young son to one day treasure, or a generation-connecting ode like “Only One.” But his music is peppered with earnest insights that lay bare the anxieties that have come with being a parent. It’s a topic that hasn’t gotten a whole bunch of great looks throughout hip-hop history, and Boogie’s confessions ring with a wide-eyed sincerity that help make him one of the most absorbing rappers out there right now.
Boasting a low-key, stream-of-consciousness lyrical style, the young Angeleno’s verses play like post-dusk ruminations spilled on a sleepless night. “That’s my five-year-old kid, he’s still got crayons in his cupboard/Now how I’m supposed to tell him I got shot over a color?” he ponders on “Make Me Over,” a track that, like much of his new tape The Reach, sees him slide back onto the kind of hollowed-out cloud rap beats that served him so well on last years’ Thirst 48 (incidentally, both were released on June 24, his son’s birthday).
Chopped ‘n’ screwed vocal loops, mournful piano chords and plenty of Spike Lee saxophone help maintain the surly atmosphere on songs like “Intervention” and “Further,” the latter of which features outtakes taken from news reports on the killing of 6-year-old Tiana Ricks as the MC gravely decries neighborhood violence. This is heavy stuff then, but Boogie never sounds defeated. The Reach instead has a optimism sewn into its groove. Despite referencing such a tragedy, “Further” sees him determined not to succumb to the potentially-violent trappings others in his life have yielded to. “I keep reaching for the clouds and they just keep moving further,” he admits. “They told me not to fail and I just tell ’em, ‘I heard ya’.”
The last 12 months have seen him sharpen his flow too. The one-liners are even more memorable than before, and though still an intimate MC, he’s putting his bars together better than ever. “Oh My,” in fact, is one of the summer’s true bangers–a Lex Luger-style concoction of battering drum machines and skyscraping keys that adds an improbable string to his already impressive bow. Elsewhere, Boogie gets romantic on soulful accompaniment pieces “Find Me” and “Found You,” which provide a welcomed change of pace down the stretch.
The Reach dropped at a time when Compton, once the pop culture capital of the world, is experience renewed interest on the back of Kendrick’s success, the forthcoming NWA biopic and all relating reunions. But in contrast to the glossy promotional spots, Boogie’s music sounds like it was cut in a small bedroom, by a man peering from behind a curtain at a neighborhood he loves and understands. And in doing so, he’s forging his own little part of the city’s rich musical history.