First Serve: Plug 1 and Plug 2 of De La Soul Presents…

de la soul, first serve, plugFirst Serve: Plug 1 and Plug 2 of De La Soul Presents…
De La Soul‘s first foray into hip hoperas was their sophomore album, De La Soul Is Dead. The album featured a series on interconnected skits intersperse among loosely related songs. The genre was later flushed out better by the likes of Del the Funky Homosapien on Deltron 3030 and Kool Keith with his Dr. Octagon character. Now De La Soul members Plug 1 and Plug 2 team up (sans Maseo) for a fully realized hip hopera, telling the tale of imaginary group, First Serve.
While other hip hoperas have told the tale of intergalactic rap battles, a rapist gynecologist from Jupiter, and, of course, being trapped in a closet, Plug 1 and Plug 2 go for a much more believable story line. The story line is as follows: two friends start a rap group, rap group gets signed, rap group blows up, rap group breaks up, rap group reforms and live happily-ever-after. Sounds believable right?
While the concept does not sound like anything special, it is executed deftly creating an album that is actually quite listenable. The beats, created by French producers Chokolate and Khalid, have a funky old skool sound without feeling passe or antiquated. “We Made It” recreates the disco roller rink sound of the classic “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays.” “The Book of Life” features bluesy harmonic and soulful organ to create a beat reminiscent of C2C‘s “Down the Road.” “Pushin’ Aside, Pushin’ Along” features a similar piano to Dr. Dre‘s “Still D.R.E” but with more straight forward drum beat.
Even the skits are worth listening to. “Goon TV,” in particular, when First Serve gets offered a gig in Cannes, France. Plug 1 asks “isn’t that far?” to which Plug 2 responds, “far? This shit is in France. Yeah, its far. It ain’t up the block next to Modell’s.”
But for as good as the album’s tracks are and the skits are, the album’s construction is what is truly masterful. After all the great songs on the album, First Serve climaxes with the closing track “Move’em In, Move’Em Out.” The song is supposed to be the group’s big hit and it is obvious why. It is a fun loving party anthem that wraps up everything listeners loved about De La Soul’s verses on Gorillaz‘ “Feel Good Inc.” and puts it into a song of their own.
What is incredible about it is, how many album’s manage to climax on the last song without losing the listener somewhere along the way? Almost all albums fade towards the end but First Serve never fails to keep the listeners attention with its storyline, humorous skits, and funky tracks.
Rating: 8.8/10
MP3: First Serve “Move’em In, Move’em Out”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl