Review: Kserious – Bury Me In Public (EP)
In one fell swoop, the internet has made it both easier and harder to be the cool guy who’s always hip to shit nobody else knows about. This truth doesn’t discriminate when it comes to music. I’ll occasionally find myself marveling at something I stumble on in the middle of the night while I trade hours of sleep next to my wife for those spent high on the internet. The first two questions I ask myself are, (a) why the hell doesn’t this have more plays, and (b) why the hell isn’t anyone blogging about this? Those million-dollar questions have driven me crazy for years. But as I was driving to my desk job this morning, trying not to spill hot coffee on my genitals, I realized something: I have a blog. I’ve never reviewed anything in my life, but I could. Sure, a co-sign from me might be worth its weight in torn condoms and discarded foreskin, especially when compared to that of an actual, more established hip hop blog, but when has being shitty at something ever stopped me from trying to make you think otherwise?
What qualifies me as someone capable of providing an honest, detailed review of a rap album? Simply: I fucking love rap music. I’ve been absorbing it for well over twenty years and making it for about six. I also enjoy writing, and I would hope I’m becoming less and less horrible at it. That’s basically it.
Here’s my first official album review: Kserious – Bury Me in Public
I first met Kserious – or Kevin Bicknell – in December of ‘12. I’d asked the homie Sean – also known as Thesis of the Cloudmakers, On a High Note, etc. – to perform at a charity show I was throwing in the Santa Ana art district. He asked if, rather than playing a solo set, he could bring his newly formed super group, the Cloudmakers. I’d seen their name around the web and on my Facebook newsfeed many times, and I was familiar enough with some of the members to know their collective talent would not only be a great addition to the show, but might ultimately become its highlight. The evening was a success, and in the handful of months that followed, I had the opportunity to collab with many of the Cloudmakers, both on record and on stage, and even shared laughs with Kevin and his “best mate, Jon” (or Besatree, also of CM) when they invited me to discuss all things rap music over too many beers in Jon’s Long Beach garage. Since then, I’ve been delighted to see the Cloudmaker brand gain some well deserved acclaim.
Ever wonder what Allen Ginsberg or Charles Bukowski’s rap album would sound like? Me neither, but Kserious made one similar to it. Not because he’s gay or chock-full of rage, but because he’s really smart, and kind of a train wreck, which people like him and I tend to wear as a badge of honor. I have an art fetish for well-read rappers. The real ones, though. The ones whose witty brain-lyrics are just a natural reflection of how they think and speak in regular, day-to-day life, mostly because they’ve forgotten how to speak any other way. (I’m not talking about the short-lived phase Kurupt went through in ’95 when he tried to convince us – and himself – that his brain was bigger than gangster rap: “I disconnect ya, kurupter, mc to vocally bore your whole molecular structure catastrophic mystic as mixelplix… etc.” We’re stoked you’ve learned some new words, Kurupt… but we know you don’t really talk like that.)
The only thing I like more than a well-read rapper is sing-rapping. When rhymes spat contain melodic undertones with harmonies faintly panning from side to side. It’s one thing to rap over a beat, it’s another thing entirely to ballroom dance with the instrumental, following it’s every twist and turn without awkwardly stepping on its feet. I love that shit, and Kserious does all of it. And while his crew’s moniker may suggest party favors more herbal in nature (I’m talking about weed here), his solo work is best served with a glass of whiskey.
At first listen, Bury Me in Public sounds like a happy compilation of tongue-in-cheek pub anthems, which is it’s own kind of brilliance, especially taking into account that the content itself is fucking depressing. The song “Music May Have Saved Me”, delivered in a raspy, Tom Waits-esque croon, sounds as though it was conceived in a dark room, sitting at a dusty piano in the midst of one of those blurry nights that too soon turn into mornings, when you can’t determine whether you’re hungover or still drunk. I listen to it and smell the cigarette smoke in the air. There’s also the samples. I thought I was the only guy, at least the only rapper, who admittedly loves Swingers and The Break Up. Swingers is the film you watch and reference over and over again with your homies. The Break Up is the film you tell your homies you only watch to appease your lady, but you secretly love the shit more than she does because you get to live vicariously through Vince Vaughn’s rebellious character.
This record, while only five tracks long, touches on everything from heartbreak to self-destructiveness in a “celebrate the end of the world” sort of manor. (See track no. 4, “Farewell to the Inside Joke”) When I first heard it, I told Kevin, “It’s so good that I doubt very many people like it,” which is a strange kind of compliment, but a compliment just the same. I really can’t call it an “experimental” record, mainly because I don’t think he was experimenting, he was just making the music he hears in his head all day.
Something I have to mention: Back when I was drinking and chatting with Kevin and Jon in the garage, I said something to the effect of, “I know I’m a real artist because I fucking hate myself most of the time,” which prompted Jon to laugh his ass off while a straight-faced Kevin knowingly nodded and just said, “Yeah.” I don’t want to paint you the wrong picture, though. The dude’s far from a bummer to be around. He’s been nothing but jokes and smiles the handful of times I’ve seen him. And that’s just it. I believe he’s managed to genuinely tap into his own creativity, so much so that he can at least partially abandon any issues he may struggle with once they’ve been externalized, and you don’t have to understand it.
Bury Me in Public was released August 2012, fourteen months prior to me writing this. I personally know how far a person’s artistic vision, along with their ability to skillfully express that vision, can expand and flourish in only a week, let alone a year. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to hearing and seeing what this crazy bastard’s been concocting since 2012. Yet another reason to be glad the Mayans were full of shit.
Follow Kserious on Twitter: @k_serious
There’s also this: http://cloudmakersmusic.com/artist/kserious/