The kids outside my window are in the spirit, exploding with all the extra energy now stored free from the routine of early morning bus rides, homework afternoons and torturous bedtimes. 'Tis the season to be youthful, underneath the July sun they’re kicking their scooters, pumping their bike peddles, jumping from swing sets and running through the dry heat of summer awaiting the song of their savior, the Ice Cream Man. I’m also awaiting a song, not one that will indicate a truck full of frozen treats, but one that will rule the coming weeks and months at every party and club venue. The DJ’s secret weapon, a sure thing, the moment it drops the result has to be mass hysteria. Think Young Jeezy’s "Put On" in 2008, Rick Ross’ "BMF" in 2010, Bobby Shmurda’s "Hot Nigga" in 2014, and while 2015 has plenty of potential prospects, a few weeks ago Nathan began advocating for Boogie’s "Oh My." I had never heard of Boogie, but I trust Nathan enough to give him a listen. It only takes one listen to make me comprehend why he would make such a claim.
The production sounds like Jahlil Beats sampled the rebellious spirits that rioted across Los Angeles in 1992. The intense build up is like the calm before a Category 4 hurricane, when the drums finally drop from the top rope you are thrown into this vehement explosion that seeps into your skin and forces your body to move violently. The hook is golden, you’ll be saying “Oh my goodness!” in your sleep, at the gym, in the middle of a parent-teacher conference. It’s simple and catchy. I like how Boogie approaches the song, his flow and energy matches the vigor of the beat, the lyrics are simple enough to imagine a room full of fans reciting every line, but clearly not the kind of bars you’ll find wrapped in bubble gum. It’s impressive, a banger with wordplay and a serious undertone reflecting on the madness that is his life. There’s no disappearing hats or bodies being caught but empty fridges and the foreshadowing of a story with more grief than glory, topics that won’t be easy to meme.
One song can create a career, or it can later become a momentary placeholder only be remembered in retrospect. The day of Boogie's album release, The Reach, Nathan once again brought his music to my ears. It wasn’t another summer smash but a song that Nathan proclaimed was a great record, an emotional record so powerful he had to share. By the end of my first listen, I was responding to his message in all caps. “Make Me Over” is overflowing with passion, pain, and promise. The first verse is strong, the troublesome introspection of a black man lost in thought about race, faith, and the penitentiary system, but it's not until right after Boogie’s son delivers a prayer for his family members that the song truly becomes something specular:
“That’s my five-year-old kid, he still got crayons in his cupboard, now how I’m supposed to tell him I got shot over a color?”
The way he juxtaposed gang violence and his son's Crayola set is simple yet brilliant. From there the song intensifies, the beat matches his raising voice that explodes with aggression as he reflects on a dead friend, being shot and feeling lost. The song ends as his son asks for God to keep his father out of trouble before transitioning into “Oh My," which takes on an entirely new depth coming on the heels of 'Make Me Over."
I had assumed all of Boogie's music was in the same vein as "Oh My." I was wrong. Since the first day I listened to the album, The Reach has been in steady rotation for me. There’s blood pumping through the music, emotion, you can feel his pulse at the end of every word, the entire project plays like peering into the depth of his psyche where there’s no locks or restrictions. The perspective of a father, a son, a gangbanger and a Compton emcee are displayed like fragments of his soul.
Transparent, yes, that’s the word I would use to describe Boogie. It's documentary rap told with a candor that doesn’t attempt to gloss the reality of his life. “Overstate Interlude” is a perfect example of his candid self-examination, listing his strengths and shortcomings as if he was sitting in a confessional. Listeners will find themselves caught in the web of his truth, a point-of-view that highlights the lows and blues instead of the highs and greener grass. You’ll walk away feeling like you know the artist, someone that’s done wrong but is striving for right ("First Evergreen"), dealing with a level of guilt outweighing the glory of his action ("Intervention"), a poet unafraid to admit his emotions ("Find Me") and ultimately a man seeking change in himself and community ("Change").
The Reach is well crafted, it doesn’t feel like a project constructed just to showcase an ability to rap but a much more larger vision. Production is incredible, there isn’t a single beat that doesn’t feel tailored made for this album. Willie B and Jahlil Beats are the only names I recognize, a bulk of the sound is handled by Keyel. News clips and various vocal samples are used to propel the narrative further at the end of almost every track. They aren’t long like Kendrick’s skits from GKMC, so short they're almost unnoticeable. It's one thing to talk about your son but it adds an extra layer of personal connection to hear the young man appear on the album multiple times. The intricate transitions are worthy of being included in my article on album sequencing. The attention to detail alone shows me an artist that cares about the music, someone trying to create an experience beyond a single hit record.
"Cause from the ruins we ascended like we knew that was different / Kept it moving like evictions"
I suspected Boogie would be here for the summer, that “Oh My” would be a part of my life until the temperature drops and I dust off 808’s and Heartbreaks, but The Reach has presented me a capable emcee with much more to offer. I’m learning never to judge a book by its Good Read reviews, never judge a movie by its Rotten Tomato score, and never judge an artist by his single. You might be surprised by what you find once you dig a little deeper.
By Yoh, aka Yoh My Goodness, aka @Yoh31