This year has begun with a major change for the Los Angeles-based, Rancho Cucamonga-bred alt-hip-hop/funk/soul collective Tha Boogie—it lost a member. Where this could be detrimental for most three-pieces, Tuko and James Jet used the downgrade to their advantage, thinking of it as a new journey and opportunity to show the world their full potential.
So Tha Boogie started anew and created a follow-up to its 2009 debut EP, Love The Boogie (Steal This Sh*t), which the two-piece entitled, Good Luck Charlie Vettuno. The title is a tribute to Vettuno Street, where the two musicians met during their childhood. And instead of releasing the EP on Raphael Saadiq’s Velma Records, like the debut, Tuko and Jet decided to release it themselves.
With this do-it-yourself approach comes with pros and cons. Where the debut is full bodied and experimental, the duo seems to take a more straightforward approach with GLCV, creating minimalist production/instrumentation and an emphasis on vocals. Tuko and Jet both have a nice set of pipes on them (as does Ani Lennox, who lends her voice on the tack, “Protocol,”) but the release is lacking that magnetizing pizzazz of their debut, which has attracted fans across the globe.
Tuko and Jet also add a bit too much filler to this release. Although the EP comprises eight tracks, three of them are interludes, resulting in a playtime that stops short of eighteen minutes. There are some gems on this record, namely the dance-inducing, synth laden “Protocol” that features the aforementioned Lennox; the fast-paced, aggressive “SoL,” where Tuko flexes his rapping muscles, and the slow, beautifully heart wrenching closing track, “Happy Ending.” But it would have been nice to see an album full of solid tunes like these.
With monumental changes come transition periods, and it seems like this is the phase Tha Boogie is in currently. Tuko and Jet are both extremely talented musicians lyrically, vocally and instrumentally, as well as being talented producers. They just need to regain footing as a two-piece and focus on each member’s strengths. It’s good to work out the kinks on an EP before delving into a full-length, which the duo has mentioned is its next project.Both musicians agree that music is self-expression, and thus they believe in crumbling the confining walls of “genres.” Though this release is not too shocking or revolutionary, Tuko and Jet both have the mindset to change music, and I think if they work hard enough, they will be able to break out of a niche. They’re just not quite there yet.