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Plug 1 & Plug 2 (De La Soul) - First Serve

Plug 1 & Plug 2 (De La Soul)
First Serve

First Serve as an album is really hit or miss. Some of the tracks manage to blend nice production with a nice rhyme style. Others just don’t get it done.

The 16 track album follows a concept of two rappers, Jacob and Deen, and their journey to make it to the big time. Once they get there, in this fictional story, it then follows them up until a live show. The concept idea is creative and can be fun to listen to. And yes it gives the album a great feel of continuity. However in this case the idea doesn’t end with great success.

The story following these two make-believe rappers has a negative effect on the overall lyrical content that could be and should be expected from De La Soul of the past. With a concept story you would expect some laughs from relatable situations or some kind of well written scenarios. Instead , you are subject to unfunny interludes that don’t particularly add much to the story and seem pretty pointless. As well as this, some tracks are a little too chorus heavy. The rhymes in the chorus’ are, at times, played out within the track. The most notable example of this is “Move ‘em In, Move ‘em Out”, which repeats a badly sung chorus which tends to annoy, and leaves you happy that the electronics company added a skip button to your CD player so you can hurry up and end it.

However, with the concept idea covered and not used to its full potential, Plug 1 and Plug 2 (Jacob ‘Pop Life’ Barrow and Deen Whitter) consistently display a smooth flow. The two work to rhyme together as if they share one mind. Verses can begin with one, and end with another with such a skillful transition from one rapper to the next that you barely realize it is two different MCs. The rapping ability of the group is outstanding however it seems as if they don’t use it to their full potential. The lyrical content is pretty weak and doesn’t cover anything you haven’t heard before so don’t expect to hear anything inspiring from them. Plug 1 and 2 are a great combination of rappers and their words come out silky and confidently. The pairing also weave their raps with the beats just as expertly.

All 16 tracks of the album are produced by a production duo of Chokolate and Khalid aka 2&4. The beats tend to be more consistently good than the rhymes. They are funky, not too heavy or atmospheric, but they go pretty well with the rap style. Some of the beats sound a bit too pop or disco, namely (again) “Move ‘em In, Move ‘em Out” which, if you haven’t already guessed is the weakest spot on the LP.

As well as this, guilty of sounding quite disco-esque, is “We Made It”, which repeats the title over and over throughout the beat. However, on this album there are some incredible beats that will nullify the aforementioned instrumentals that just don’t match up.

“Must B The Music” is funky as beats come. I don’t think you will be able to understand the amount of funk in this beat until you hear it. This is a very well-produced beat and uses aspects that don’t usually work, but 2&4 manage to create something nice. Another notably good beat is “Pop Life”, although not an exception display of lyricism, has a very smooth, jazzy sound which would be great to listen to as an instrumental. A perfect example of the well mixed beats and rap is “The Work” which is a slightly heavier beat, great with the duo’s flow.

Plug 1 and 2 are exceptionally talented rappers there is no doubt, and at times it is displayed. But, for the most part, they don’t seem to want to be as good as they can be. The rapping flow is great and the concept idea is creative. However they don’t do as much with it as they could. The lyrics as I have said, are nothing to go crazy about either. You could pick up any other album and hear something similar. The beats are pretty consistent and sometimes exceptionally good. 2&4 display great versatility in their production. The mix of Plug 1 and 2 and 2&4 make for a great album to casually listen to. So if you are looking for something that sounds great as a passive listen, First Serve is definitely the album for you. If you are more into lyrical content then this album is likely to leave you a bit underwhelmed.

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