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Serge Severe / Press

“When Terminill showed me his batch of beats, a lot of it was darker and I think it fit the album title, “Service Without A Smile.” It’s like a metaphor for the industry and how it can be a little ugly. People don’t really care what you can do, but more what they can sell off of you. I think Terminill’s soundscape fit where I was going at the time and what I was feeling.”

“With his latest album Back On My Rhymes, Portland emcee Serge Severe has achieved an admirable feat in delivering a collection of songs that manage to capture hip hop’s golden age without sounding stale or superfluous. If Serge ever needs an elevator pitch to sum himself up he can lift it straight from one of his track titles: “Classic But So New”. Serge’s rhymes aren’t weighed down by abstract cosmic references or a cataloging of model names and numbers of high-tech weaponry. Rather, Severe prefers wordplay that is efficient, sharp and strikes close, essentially mirroring the machetes, shovels, box blades and chokeholds that work their way into his metaphors.”

“Prepare for sergery! Serge Severe is a lyrical surgeon from Portland who dissects drum patterns with dedicated precision and sharp raps. 'Back when I was young I grew a sharpe tongue', he admits. That'll explain the acute edge and fierce character of his rhymes, unabashedly piercing through your ear. 'I keep my rhymes sharp like the arrow from a crossbow'. See? The bragging and boasting is backed by drums that hold a fair amount of instruments. Brass, guitar strings and piano stabs give the record a lively funk feel. Being fully produced by DJ Sect, Serge Severe likes to refer to the DJ/MC combination and often mentions the Pete Rock-CL Smooth tandem as a big influences. This record however -on a production level- reminds us more of the Lord Finesse and Mike Smooth collabos, with the dusty old samples, shrill horns and drought drums. And so this album is a new reason to keep an ear on Portland, where the call for authentic hip-hop cries louder by every rap record released. ”

“Serge Severe is a Portland emcee whose dexterous lyricism, combined with his respect for rap history, has been evident ever since he burst upon the scene. Severe's last mixtape found him spitting over classic DJ Premier tracks, cementing his commitment to a culture where rocking the mic right is of the utmost importance; a world where radio spins and social media acolytes are secondary spoils to the true calling of being able to move the crowd with a DJ on the ones and twos. On his latest full-length, Back on My Rhymes, Severe further solidifies this mission with a who's-who guest list of local emcees that proves the respect he's earned from his peers. Perhaps the greatest triumph of the album is deftly not letting reverence slip into retro nostalgia, instead building on the past to create something categorically contemporary.”

“Serge has never been “off” of his rhymes, but it’s an emphasis on going back, and simply saying “let’s continue”. In other words, this is very much a modern day album, not a retro one although it most certainly has the few of hip-hop in the 90′s pre Wu-Tang (November 1993 for those keeping track). It goes back to the overused “beats, rhymes & life” analogy but it fits here because that’s what Serge does, simply drop rhymes over hot beats and samples, and just delivering the goods. The ego is in the attitude and flow, but with the MC cap on, he simply creates one song after the other that works from start to finish, as the mission that it is and always will be.”

“That doesn't mean that Severe has given up on changing the system or pouring his autobiography out through the speakers—the new disc tackles a little of everything, topically. But the beats—and Severe's slightly revised approach on the mic (if nothing else, there's a newfound emphasis on clarity of message)—are so tight and so familiar-feeling that listeners of a certain age will hear these songs with a mix of sentimentality and sheer excitement. "I hit the stage like Onyx in '93," Serge says elsewhere on the disc. And it's true—he hits the record that way, too. Look out for it, because I truly think this is the one. ”

“This album makes you think. Part of what I like about Serge’s rhyme style is that it’s very wordy, utilizing similes, metaphors and abstract language. This approach makes it really interesting when attempting to decipher the lyrical content of “Concrete Techniques” as a whole. Most verses on this album are worth multiple listens, and many of them will take multiple listens to understand correctly. One of my favorite verses is from Ain’t It Funky, in which Serge demonstrates a combination of conscious lyricism and masterful wordplay”

““Concrete Techniques” was once an opening line by Inspecteh Deck, and now it's a refreshing piece of work by Serge Severe. It's not that he's reinventing the wheel, but actually doing something well in today's Hip-Hop market is a breath of fresh air. Whether cult or beatmaker, Universal DJ Sect found that rare balance of digging and ignoring limitations. A few of the tracks displayed Serge's knack for substance, so perhaps he'll delve deeper inside with the next album. For now, fresh rhymes are hitting the spot. To simplify using his own words, Serge is just a “speech conductor over sweet production.””

“What with the old school sampled beats, and the old school battle rhymes, "Concrete Techniques" seems in some ways like a product of another era, when rappers where dreaming about going gold, not platinum, and were more concerned with being the fiercest MC on the block than on shifting product and moving units. Serge Severe looks back to a simpler time, when rappers were judged by the strength of their flow and not the length of their rap sheet or whether or not they had a vodka line. Put "Concrete Techniques" on and imagine an alternate universe where Diddy never happened, where Eric B. was still president, and where hip hop stayed true to its roots.”