Album Review: Kerser - Next Step

6 November 2015 | 4:36 pm | James d'Apice

"The C-bomb is no longer as shocking as it once was."

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Next Step is aptly named. It's Kerser's first release since teaming up with a major label. It's a neat microcosm for Australian rap, the misunderstood genre that might now provide investors a chance to make some serious money.

But label talk is window dressing, fodder for teenagers keen to locate the precise moment their former heartthrob sold out. The important next step on this record is the absence of Kerser's former beat-maker-in-chief, Nebs, perhaps the best beat-maker in the country. For the last few years, one of the great appeals of a Kerser record was the guarantee of a selection of classy Nebs beats. Here, Nebs' silence (his place taken by Sinima Beats) is deafening.

Kerser's story is still compelling: the unapologetic, partially reformed bad guy trying to make sense of the maelstrom that surrounds him. Kerser is no longer shocking, though. Six or eight years ago his voice was unique: street-smart, angry, hungry. Now, five albums in, the C-bomb is no longer as shocking as it once was. In the absence of a maestro of Nebs' class Kerser needs to do more of the heavy lifting than ever before. He succeeds at times. Keep Chasing Them is a great bit of autobiography, and 50 seconds in Kerser breaks into a stunning, compelling mini-melody. When we hear "Ten years ago I would've grabbed your fuckin' purse and run," we learn that the menace and the charisma remains and remains even if Nebs does not. Kerser's taken the next step.