Boogie's greatest gift is the ability to speak frankly.
Boogie might be the rap game’s truest embodiment of the hopeless romantic. Barring claims that he’d “cheat on his queen for a ho,” the Compton rapper seems to be driven by a sense of rectifying his unrequited love. While some opt to chase hedonistic pleasures, Boogie grounds his former partner as the center point around which his compass-needle rotates. That’s not to say he’s enraptured in a state of eternal worship. He’s quick to let his frustrations and insecurities bubble to the surface, making him all the more relatable. Simply put, Boogie feels refreshingly humanistic in a cast of increasingly surreal characters.
Luckily, Boogie’s sense of relatability does not come at the expense of technical prowess. The man can rap, stringing together dense stanzas with impressive attention to detail, one that likely left Eminem bedazzled to begin with. Though his sleepy voice gives the impression that he’s still wiping off morning crusties in the booth, his words themselves act as a caffeine jolt. “What's harder, missing cosigns or being co-parents, treat your heart just like a treasure, let no ho near it, address the fact you the suppression of your own spirit,” he raps, on the tone-setting opener “Tired/Reflections.” On a production level, the track moves beautifully, employing a meticulous arrangement of acoustic instruments, long thought absent from the modern hip-hop landscape.
The work behind the boards, brought to life by an esteemed committee of Keyel, Teej, S1, Dart, and more, grounds Everything’s For Sale with a noted sense of sincerity. It might have been easy for Boogie to call an order for “bangers, no questions asked.” Instead, his team mirrored the writing process and took their time, never fearing a subdued or unrestrained moment. “Silent Ride,” which employs a synthesized woodwind and ever-so-slightly percussive arrangement, finds Boogie at his best, melding his melodies to the beat in a feat of symbiosis. Again, Boogie’s imagery, particularly that of a “silent ride home,” resonate in their relatability. Yet the “mundane” nature of such an interpersonal connection might keep some listeners from truly committing to the cause.
That’s not to say there aren’t more spirited moments. Boogie’s jadedness emerges in spades on “Soho,” as he laments Hollywood culture, and his masochistic dependency on its benefits. Without previously grounding himself as an everyman, Boogie’s cynicism might have lost a few shades of luster. Yet now, we’re able to worry for him, an outsider in a game of clout; the complex politics of Instagram navigation might be best taught to him via PowerPoint presentation. It doesn’t hurt that “Soho” features the album’s most immediate instrumental, and a standout verse from Dreamville’s J.I.D, currently enjoying a hot-streak of his own.
Though billed as an interlude “Lolsmh” also stands out as a thematic centerpiece. The first movement finds Boogie indulging in a bit of self-sabotage, portraying himself as his own worst enemy. “It's hard for me to be happy, wish my girl would just dump me,” he raps. “I done showed you all my ugly, but why the fuck you ain’t judge me?” Given everything he paints in the following stanzas, it’s no wonder that Boogie’s happiness is at constant risk. And thus, a bittersweet cycle begins. His sadness fuels his creativity, and his creativity allows him means and opportunity to thrive. Who’d have thought the dryly comic Compton emcee would make for such an angsty figure! Perhaps the “tears of a clown” motif is what drew Eminem’s attention in the first place.
Though the first release of a revived Shady Records, Eminem’s involvement in the project is largely that of an observer. He does contribute to “Rainy Days,” a somber cut driven by a melancholic, medieval dirge. On one hand, the song feels out of place in the grand vision. On the other, it serves as a refreshing change of pace. An outlier and safe haven in equal measure. Likewise for “Self Destruction,” which also constitutes under the relatively “banger” column. The sparse up-tempo contributions showcase a welcome element of Boogie’s toolkit, but bring a sense of cognitive dissonance to the album’s greater mood. Though he has long established a penchant for self-sabotage, openly enjoying the chaos only skews his pre-established moral alignment.
It’s presumptuous to call Everything’s For Sale a concept album, though in a sense, it is. Highly cerebral in nature, Boogie’s every thought appears penned to paper, leaving listeners to draw their own interpretations; it’s not quite a diary, but a lesser fortitude might blush were these words to surface under a different context. Though his self-ascribed conclusions of self are rather bleak, they speak to a potential he covets but can’t quite articulate. Perhaps there’s comfort to be taken in the lack of grandiose ambition. After all, the album is listenable from start to finish, with vivid lyricism and lovely production. The wheel is not reinvented, nor is another classic added to the canon. But like a daydream or a dark-hour doubt, Everything’s For Sale is compelling enough to hold water.