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De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2
- First Serve

Whether First Serve is a spicy examination of the rap industry or simply a way for De La to experiment and have a little fun...

Darren Collins

Apr 10th 2012 | Label: PIAS
After nearly 25 years in the business, there's a certain expectation of what a De La Soul album should be, a standard it must deliver, a pigeon hole it must fill. Not surprisingly looking to break free of this, the group has worked on alternative projects and now this, First Serve. Exchanging resident DJ Mase for the often spectacular beats of French producers Chokolate and Khalid, Pos and Dave have crafted a concept album, an off-stage musical, a soundtrack to a never-made movie documenting the rise, fall and rise again of fictional rap group First Serve.

Playing fledgling MCs Deen and Jacob, Pos and Dave take us back to their humble beginnings learning their trade in mum's basement. Pushin' Aside, Pushin' Along and The Work see the duo dealing with parents who just don't understand while the darker Small Disasters find them wallowing in self-doubt, questioning if they will ever get over it. Finally getting signed to a label, the ensuing celebration leads to the album's brightest moments; the soulful, horn-ful We Made It is the dopest thing De La have done in years, while first single, the reggae-disco bounce of Must B The Music, not only heralds Deen and Jacob blowing up but De La creating something they may have never gotten away with on a 'regular' album.

Inevitably, the group develop beef and break up, soundtracked by harder, bluesy beats before reuniting as older, wiser more savvy individuals, the EPMD reference hardly required. Whether First Serve is a spicy examination of the rap industry or simply a way for De La to experiment and have a little fun, it is an entertaining though somewhat inconsistent set that will definitely hold us over until that desperately needed eighth album arrives.

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