Thursday, September 6, 2012

REVIEW: DOMINIC SERENDIP – LIVE LUCID


Dominic Serendip, an emcee, musician, actor and poet originating from Harlem, is a member of purpVarsity Music Group and makes up one-third of purpVarsity’s THEBLKHANDS, alongside Cazzie Jetson and ILLA. As a member of THEBLKHANDS, Dom has recorded tracks with the likes of Big KRIT and Smoke DZA, as well as Fenix, an up-and-coming artist who’s set to make a name for himself in the coming months. Most recently, THEBLKHANDS released the music video for ‘Downtown’, featuring Skyzoo. The video, which was originally premiered on Straight Fresh, quickly found its way to the “major” blogs. In addition to these attention-grabbing features and all-around dope tracks, Dom recently provided narration on Cazzie Jetson’s latest release, theMighty. As is evident through his work alongside the rest of purpVarsity, Dominic is willing to dedicate time and energy in order to support his team. Now, with the release of Live Lucid, Domi takes a stab at establishing a name for himself as a solo-artist. ThroughoutLive Lucid, Dominic Serendip takes listeners on a journey – his journey – revealing what it means to “Live Lucid” and why he has chosen to embrace the lifestyle.
Live Lucid opens up powerfully with the ILLA-produced ‘Wolf’, a track demonstrating the raw emotion that encompasses the entire album. Setting up the basic tone and themes found throughout the album, Dom expresses his lone-wolf mentality while also revealing some of his various ‘vices’. Lines like, “And since we’re being vocal, I’m a carnivore who’s fond of whores, cannibal, my mandibles is full of cannabis, no stick or fist can stop my quench, I guess I’m a wolf alone till the end of this”, provide the listener with some insight into Dom’s frame of mind. Believe me, this opening track is not the last time Dominic expresses his desire for drugs and women. Both subjects play prominent roles over the course of Live Lucid – and Dominic doesn’t care if you pass negative judgment on him because of that. By the end of the first song, Domi has made clear he’s not worried about living for other people. He’s living for himself. At the conclusion of Dom’s lyrics, we hear Dominic getting lectured about his lifestyle. The voice orders the young artist to “wake the fuck up!” questioning if he truly thinks his life is on the right path. After being told, “life ain’t some dream”, Dom responds to the voice of doubt by simply stating, “I’m gonna live lucid”. The opening track on Live Lucid sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the album.A lucid dream is knowing you are dreaming, and therefore being able to control the dream. Dominic Serendip refuses to accept there is a line separating dreams and reality. On ‘Live Lucid (Pt. 1), Domi illuminates the concept of lucid living, explaining the lifestyle as “bringing your dreams to reality, having absolute control over it, as well as yourself. Cutting all the puppet ties to reality and life, and defining your own existence with those dreams”. Instead of listening to your masters, doubt them. They are not living your life, so why should you live how they tell you to?
My message is I live for me
Set my own highs, smokin’ till I get the best of me
I am my only enemy, it’s either break free or be the death of me
Living life entails facing doubt and denial from others, as well as internal self-doubt. Self-doubt tends to stem from the doubt of others. Dominic may have friends – we know this because he’s a part of purpVarsity – but he’s a “wolf alone” because he understands his life is in his own hands. “And here we are, nope, nope here I am, deny my friends”. Domi knows he has friends who support him, but they don’t control his world. His dreams are his own, just as his life is his own. Dominic Serendip is living lucid because he, and only he, has total control of his world, reality, dreams and self. Living lucid means Dom doesn’t have to worry about doubt from others because it doesn’t matter what other people think. The only person Dom has to worry about is himself. He is the only person who can hold Dominic Serendip back and prevent his dreams from being his reality. On ‘Dreamscape’, while rapping over another ILLA-produced beat – which happens to be one of my favorites on the album – Domi uses a video game controller as a metaphor to portray the idea behind living lucid. Your life, reality and dreams are under your control if you accept lucid as your lifestyle. By living lucid, the power to have absolute control over your world rests in your hands.
Get the fuck back from my reality, I’l combat your morality
Fatality, I’m managing to control you like pressing A and B,
Now this is just an A and B so see your way out,
Now control the absolute controller, and see how it play out
Although Dominic Serendip is living for himself, in complete control of every aspect, he still takes time on the album to send a message to the critics, doubters, and anyone else trying to hold him back. On ‘Cuzin Skeeter’, produced by Rizon, Dom attacks the track with a raw flow that’s full of emotion. His living lucid lifestyle prevents anybody from stunting his growth, as an artist and as a human. All that matters are what Dom decides is real, and Dom “ain’t no fuckin’ Cuzin Skeeter, you ain’t gon’ stop” him short. The highlight of this track was not the fact that Dom wasn’t going to allow anybody to hold him back – we already knew Dom didn’t care about the doubters. What stands out is the reference to the main character from the television show Cousin Skeeter, which aired from 1998 to 2001 on Nickelodeon. If you are not familiar with the show, I’d recommend checking it out. There were many celebrity guest appearances, including Michael Jordan, Shaq, Leroy ‘Two-Tone’ Jefferson, and even MC Lyte – Skeeter was actually credited for saving the legendary femcee’s life. An extremely short puppet portrayed Cousin Skeeter, although the human cast acted as if he was human. When Dom says he will not be a “Cuzin Skeeter”, he is using the metaphor in multiple ways. Nobody is able to stunt Dom’s growth or cut him short – he will never be a Skeeter. Interestingly, the angry tone of the track plays well into Cousin Skeeter’s tendency to become enraged only when somebody referenced his short stature. The anger in Dom’s flow is the result of anybody attempting to stop him short, just as Skeeter flew into a rage when his height – or lack-there-of – was pointed out. Beyond the play on Dom’s growth and Skeeter’s height, Dominic Serendip will never be a puppet. A major part of living lucid is “cutting all those puppet ties to reality and life”. Cousin Skeeter, a character from a Nickelodeon series, metaphorically represents everything living lucid is not about. That’s an interesting choice for a metaphor, but it’s a choice that played out perfectly.
Hearing Cousin Skeeter referenced brought back some childhood memories. If you grew up in the ‘90s, there’s a good chance you remember watching Cousin Skeeter. Thankfully, Dom doesn’t end the trip down memory lane, dedicating an entire song to the decade he was born and raised in. On ‘90’s Baby’, backed by some JAYBeatz production, Domi teams up with LH and Bluejay, journeying back to the good old days when they were young and carefree. For anybody who grew up in the 1990s, this is a real fun song to listen to, and it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face as the memories come rushing back. And, even if you weren’t able to experience your childhood in the ‘90s, you will surely relate when you hear, “things got worse in the present, I’m stuck in the past, my memories are more valuable than the cash that you have”.
Weed, women, sippin’, and sex. As noted earlier, Live Lucid is packed full of lyrics about drugs and sex. Honestly, it’s easier to list the tracks that do not include references to fucking or getting fucked up than it is to name the ones that do. This may rub some critics the wrong way, but those critics are not looking at the ways in which the references add to the album’s theme and purpose. Upon the first listen, Dominic may come off as a drug and sex addict. On ‘Sleep’, it is suggested that Dom employs his take on the ‘get fucked’ option in his life because he feels worthless. He’s using drugs and women to escape his pain. I believe the references to these common vices serve a much greater purpose. A purpose that goes beyond Dom’s ‘live life how I want to live it’ lucid lifestyle.
Sure, Dom lives the way he does because he’s living the way he wants, and he’s living for him. Songs such as ‘Cocaine Hoez’, ‘Little Darling’, ‘Space Cowboy’ – which includes one of the most dope beats on the album – and ‘Holy Trinity’ are chalk full of Dominic rapping about drugs and sex. On ‘Cocaine Hoez”, we hear “that’s all I’ll ever need, Ides and thighs, that’s all I ever wish for me, sprinkle in some Mary J and we are blessed with the holy trinity”. This same thought process is revealed again on ‘Holy Trinity’ – “All I need in my life is St. Ides, a nice pair of thighs and something to help me fly”. ‘Little Darling’, another JAYBeatz produced track, sounds like it could be a radio single, and includes: “down on her knees, lookin’ up at a star man, make a wish while I shoot and record it”. Although the innuendo is obvious, this line definitely displays Dominic’s creativity, as he utilizes wishing upon the stars to reference a female getting nutted up on. So yes, there are many references to drug use and sex that seem to be simply that – lines from a young man who is living his life the way he wants. You would be hard pressed to find a young man who didn’t enjoy doing at least one of the two – fucking or getting fucked up – on as regular a basis as possible. But there are many more lines throughout the album that use sex or drugs in order to strengthen the depths Dom is willing to go in order to live lucid.
My favorite example comes from the second track from Live Lucid, ‘Dawn Over Dusk’:
I’m the type to overdose on that blue pill
Get a hard on and fuck the world until it’s filled
Bursting, my cum mixed with Earth’s thirsting allows me to seed and treat my own dreams
Living lucid is about making the world yours. You control all aspects of your life. Some may pass off Dom’s lyrics regarding fucking the world as just another way for him to talk about sex. Those people are missing the creative use of sex – sex with the world – to further develop what it means to live lucid. Dom fucks the world, fills it with his cum and then ‘seeds’. In doing so, Dom has made the world his. Whatever happens in his life, it’s the offspring of his actions, desires, beliefs, dreams, etc. More than just having sex and using drugs, Dominic utilizes these often occurring references to set his own highs, take over the world, and make it his. Sex and drugs, whether literally or metaphorically, allow Dominic Serendip to live lucid.
Live Lucid is Dominic Serendip’s understanding of the world. The album is his journey, and through his lyrics, Domi takes the listeners on that journey with him. This review would not be complete, however, if all the focus was on Dom. There is another prominent figure on this album that helps provide Dom with the soundtrack to his voyage into understanding and living a lucid lifestyle. Although there are a handful of producers who worked on the album, the majority of the production was completed by Dominic’s purpVarsity and THEBLKHANDS running mate, the young and talented ILLA. With production credits on over half of the tracks from Live Lucid, ILLA had ample opportunity to showcase his skills. Making the most of this opportunity, THEBLKHANDS’ producer comes through with production that shines as bright as his future. The variety of sounds produced by ILLA on Live Lucid demonstrates the depth of his musical abilities. The beats range from powerful and dark, such as ‘Wolf’, to upbeat, almost radio or club music, including ‘Be Eazy’, to spacey and trippy sounds like ‘Dreamscape’ or ‘The Awakening’. Then onLive Lucid (Pt. 2), Dominic and ILLA come together to provide the perfect ending to the album. Backed by ILLA’s immaculate production, Dom sums up his story, his journey, and his lucid living lifestyle.
On the album’s closing track, Dominic reiterates what it means to live lucid. Instead of letting the world control you, instead of allowing others to define your dreams and your reality, “living lucid is all about cutting whatever holds you the fuck back”. Don’t be a puppet, don’t rely on other people – grow into whatever it is you want to become. Forget trends; forget trying to be like everyone else. Do you, be you, control your dreams, control your life. The only line separating dreams and reality exists in the minds of those who fail to understand what it means to live lucid. Living lucid is “more than saying or doing something, it’s how you live”.
I’m interested in watching Dominic Serendip grow and mature as an artist and as a human. With Live Lucid, Dom demonstrated an interesting combination of intelligence, creativity, immaturity, and an acute sense of self-awareness. Dom doesn’t claim to be the most mature person around, although his ability to take absolute control over his life and his world sure makes him seem more mature than he’ll probably be given credit for. He knows not everybody is going to like the ways he chooses to live his life. He also knows he doesn’t care, because it is his life, not the life of those who doubt or criticize him. Dominic Serendip isn’t living to please the world. He’s living to make the world he lives in become one that pleases him. Dominic Serendip is living lucid. Live Lucid was supposed to tell the story of Dom’s journey towards, and understanding of, living lucid. Dominic’s poetic lyrical ability, rapped over a variety of production, successfully accomplished what Dom set out to do.
At the end of ‘Wolf’, the voice of doubt warns Domi, “Mr. YOLO, I hope you do know you only got one”. Dom uses the album to reveal what the live lucid lifestyle is all about, and from the sounds of it, Dom understands he only has one life to live. That is why he’s living lucid. His one life on Earth is going to be lived for him, and in his life there is no reason dreams can’t be your reality. purpVarsity’s Dominic Serendip gives listeners the choice – Live Lucid or Wake Up. Based on his debut album Live Lucid and the recent success he has obtained, Dominic made the right choice when he decided to Live Lucid.
Zach Humphrey
@zach_pusAfella

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