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De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 present First Serve - (Review)

De La Soul, First Serve (De La Soul's Plug 1 and Plug 2)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

FIRST Serve is a concept album featuring Plug 1 (Dave) and Plug 2 (Posdnous) from legendary hip-hop outfit De La Soul along with French producers Chokolate and Khalid.

And, for the most part, it’s a good listen… not the hip hop classic that De La Soul are sometimes capable of delivering but a fun play nonetheless.

The album follows a fictional hip-hop crew and their journey to fame and, as such, features several spoken word interludes as ‘characters’ interact in between bouts in the recording studio. It’s during these moments that the album loses its flow but such is the risk you take with anything concept-based.

When it comes to the music, however, the album delivers several killer cuts that stand alone in confident fashion and which do recall the best that hip hop has to offer, in an old-skool kind of way.

For starters, Pushin’ Aside, Pushin’ Along features some deliciously retro beats, a kick-ass piano backdrop and some sampled vocals over the chorus that combine funkiness with attitude. It’s great.

Small Disasters is a more straight-forward slice of lyrical flow that nonetheless works well from his strutting bassline but We Made It is just a feel-good classic in waiting, a victory blast that is rife with sunshine melodies and a head-nodding back-beat. It’s classic hip-hop in that it makes you feel good about yourself in the same way that early De La Soul cuts did. The chorus is a stonker.

Hip-hop mixes with disco on the similarly spritely Must B The Music, another of the album’s cuts that’s guaranteed to get you dancing (or at the very least nodding along in appreciation), while The Book of Life opens with a fantastically bluesy slice of harmonica before retaining that blues backdrop for another successful fusion of genres.

And Pop Life eventually unfolds into a breezy mix of classic hip-hop and pop despite a laboured opening.

Move ‘Em In, Move ‘Em Out, meanwhile, draws the album to a close in pleasing fashion with a big show-tune piece that’s designed to be as celebratory and upbeat as the resolution of the album’s concept story. It’s a great way to bring down the curtain on proceedings.

If First Serve struggles to maintain a consistency throughout, it’s no small price to pay for the pleasures it produces when it does deliver. If anything, it deserves credit for reminding people so successfully of why hip hop can be fun.

Hence, while certainly no grand slam production, Plug 1 and 2 have served up more than enough aces to keep this album worth recommending.

Listen to We Made It:

Download picks: Pushin’ Aside, Pushin’ Along, We Made It, Must B The Music, The Book of Life, Move ‘em In, Move ‘em Out

Track listing:

  1. Opening Credits
  2. Pushin’ Aside, Pushin’ Along
  3. The Work
  4. Small Disasters
  5. We Made It
  6. We Made It (interlude)
  7. Must B the Music
  8. Goon TV (interlude)
  9. The Book of Life
  10. Clash Symphony
  11. Pop Life
  12. Tennis
  13. The Top Chefs
  14. Backstage (interlude)
  15. Move ‘em In, Move ‘em Out
  16. Ending Credits