HERON & SERUM: The Addiction & Antidote
Album Review by DJ AW Da Wicked from Hong Kong
Here it is, the long awaited LP from 2 of Miami Hip Hop’s most active members, released just a few days ago, on June 1st, and the wait was worth it. The Heron & Serum duo blessed us with a 50 minute boom bap journey, packed into 15 tracks. Before I dip into a few details of their work, let me drop some words on the creators of this fresh project.
Serum LaForest, aka Serum305, aka The Brainstorm Troopah got into the game in the early 90’s with the graffiti element. The heads he used to graff with throughout Miami were also deep into Cyphering and MC battles which eventually led Serum to try his hand at MCing in his late teens. From there on he continued to sharpen his skills with many more freestyle ciphers and street battles. The Miami native of Haitian descent quickly made a name for himself in South Florida as he pursued MC’ing as a full time Lifestyle.
In 1999, he formed a crew with some other cats from Kendall called #ProFresh, a collaboration with 8ch2Owens, Solo-man Spectrum ( R.I.P. ), Soarse Spoken, MindShift, Rudi Goblen, DJ Manuvers and others. His first noticeable track recorded in 1999/2000 was Creative Caldrens with Solo-man Spectrum where his Jamaican homie Jan produced the beat. This track marks a special time as it also introduces us to Mekanical Mystik, his 1st Duo group with SOLO. In 2001 followed a first official release on the Vapors Project, a series based on the graffiti topic started by Miamis Counterflow Records with Afterburner, produced by Induce and was on the B side of the 2nd single featuring El P and Slugs with their RPM ( revolutions per minute ).
In the same year, more or less due to coincidence – and arranged by Edwin “DJ Haviken Hayze” Guerra – he got linked up with legendary Zulu Nation Afrika Bambaataa and participated in the B-Boy Pro-Am MC Battles in Miami Beach. Serum battled his way through the competition, getting the Vote from the Crowd he won the trophy and title of Miami B-Boy Pro Am MC Champion. A key moment in his career as an upcoming artist that gave him a boost to level up from a Cypher / Battle Rapper to a Live Performance and Studio Monster. He then released a banger of a solo project called Melting In The Pot, published on Botanica El Jibaro in 2002, along with the Deaf To The General Public EP and a few other releases pressed on vinyl.
Serum’s style of rhyme and poetry is distinct, filled with lots of knowledge due to his interest in Egyptian history, secret ancient scrolls, African American and his own Haitian national history. He delivers intelligent content laced with his deep voice in various styles, understands how to pick up the vibe of beats and picks the right beats that go best with the concept of a song. He likes to play with words and does this very confidently, it seems like a beat tells him what lyrics to compose, like finding the matching lid to the pot.
With more than 25 years under his belt, 8 studio albums later, the hip hop veteran Serum has secured his name in the list of Miami’s greats building intelligent underground hip hop and put Kendall & South Florida on the map when it comes to Boombap.
His partner in beat on this new project, the beatsmith DJ Harold “Heron” Mazzotti aka Peruvian Boombap King shine on this album, with an equally impressive upbringing in hip hop culture. Born in Lima / Peru, raised in Brooklyn / NY, Heron early discovered the love of vinyl and began to dig in record stores for records to spin. Over the time he linked up with NY finest in Hip Hop and started to put out mixtapes. In his early youthhood days, the skilled DJ moved down to Miami and helped to fill the gap with his exclusive mixes. I personally believe that Heron and DJ EFN of Crazy Hood are two of the major key DJ’s in Miami that supported and spread boombap mixes in the early days. With 18, Heron further built his reputation, got signed to Atlantic Records and later with Sony Music. Ever since he brings exclusive live performances and acts to South Florida through his Promotion company #AddictiveAffairs and is an active scene contributor.
Now it is 2020 and two legends have come together and worked out an excellent album in many ways. Listening to this masterpiece you may feel you got something matured and outstanding. Indeed. It begins with the dope cover artwork made by Serum and ends with top notch production by Heron. It all simply fits perfectly. Being a mixtape DJ myself I have to say the composition and track lineup nailed it, in my opinion one important key for a successful story line of a mix or album.
This said, lets get finally started with the musical journey.
After Herons intro of nicely selected word cuts finishes, the album starts with the Real Shit, Serum pushes you right into the mood for more as he is already killing the beat with this track. The followup song, Race With Time, starts with a sample by Frost4eva / The Hour Glass and Serum tells us with deep lyrics that he’s not afraid of anything. The hook is crafted by Vie Oneiros awesome voice, Serum fans will remember her from the track “Stranded Ovation” of his 2018 released Pyramid Conceiled Paragraffs project. We continue with the 3rd track Never Going Back, a song about leaving self-destructive ways and it features Miamis own Wrekonize. The followup track Say introduces with a sample from My Prayer of The Platters and jumps off with Chris Black, followed by Serum and Manifestos verses. The track is an awesome wordplay with the verb “say”. We get to Beep and some heads may recognize the Foxy Lady Sample by the Soul Agents that carries you smoothly into the next episode. BTW, keep an eye on this track as it calls for a remix … I feel the hook, part of it says I filter out the weak every time I speak, word up, on point! Next in line is Amerikkkan Horror Story featuring Reks and Shabaam Sahdeeq, the cop vs cop complex commentary on the album. A lil’ lesson is taught with the next track, Here’s Johnny, a short story telling song.
Zombieland Double Tap has a more serious kind of beat and lyrics, something to listen to carefully, it gives a thought or two. Omniscient comes in with Lonely Days, a track that was first released in 2017 and also has a rotating visual. Oh, at this point, a shout to Phat Fadez in Kendall. We get to the 11th track Fixin To Flex featuring the 305 legend Skam2 along with Numonics on the guitar. After Nuplex ( by Brian Bennet ) makes a short interlude, Serum tells us Its All Basic, together with M.I. of Constant Deviants and Hakeem Green, one half of NYs Channel Live crew. We’re entering the last tracks of the album with another outstanding joint called I’m Not From Here. Enjoy this one and also peep the visual that was just released a couple of days ago, made by Serum himself. The last station of the LP is with another legend, Craig G of The Juicecrew, The Real Shit Pt. 2, the intro’s counterpart track.
Like mentioned, all tracks were produced and mixed by DJ Heron himself along with all the cuts. A very nice feature of the album scheme is that almost every track has some kind of an intro and sometimes outro. This gives the album a mixtape-like feeling and makes listening really enjoyable.
Don’t sleep on this, I highly recommend to copp this album, which is already considered as a 305 classic! You can copp it on all Streaming Sites and right here.
-DJ AW Da Wicked
DJ AW Da Wicked is a German Born DJ who was heavily involved in the Miami Underground Scene circa 1998 – 2010 when he moved away to College and finally moved to Hong Kong China to pursue a Career in Computer Science and started a beautiful family overseas. He is still a fervent supporter of Miami Underground Hip Hop and shares the music coming out of So Flo with the rest of the world. We Salute DJ AW Da Wicked as one of our longest supporters on WVCC CyphLyfeRadio and we always welcome his contribution to the CyphLyfe Blog. Leave your comments bellow and let him know you appreciate his love and support of our scene. -8ch