Dixson hasn’t quite figured out how to use the collaborative possibilities of a major label to full advantage.
Boogie’s Shady/Interscope debut Everything’s for Sale knows that fans will consume music about the most intimate details of an artist’s personal experience. In fact, the “Everything” of the title is just one thing: Boogie’s life. The album is a record of interactions with exes, friends and the troubled inner workings of his own mind. It rarely references anything outside of the people and places Boogie (aka Anthony Dixson) interacts with on a regular basis. “Ain’t no dreams of being Mike,” he raps on album highlight, “Lolsmh (Interlude),” before immediately referencing his imprisoned “big homie,” G Weeder. The lyrics announce that Boogie is far more interested in what he knows than in celebrities. Additionally, the imprisonment of his confidant is telling, as the album indicates that sadness, regret and violence mark all of Dixson’s relationships.
Dixson’s arguments with women are central to over half of the album’s 13 tracks. Boogie incorporates recordings of such arguments into “Tired/Reflections,” “Lolsmh (Interlude)” and—most heart-wrenchingly—“Whose Fault,” where he reveals his petty refusal to take his son to a ball game after an altercation: “Though I miss him, I say, ‘Shit, no I ain’t finna do it’/ ‘Cause I’m too pissed.” To his credit, Dixson approaches these interactions with unflinching honesty: He doesn’t shy away from communicating his anger, but he also grapples with his own responsibility for the brokenness in his life.
Boogie mostly chooses to rap over mid-tempo, stripped-down beats that rely heavily on bluesy guitar and soulful keyboard. Musically, this puts Everything’s for Sale much closer to the style of such Chicago artists as Saba and Chance the Rapper than of such fellow Compton artists as Problem and Kendrick Lamar. While this allows the album a remarkable consistency, its sound also ends up getting a bit repetitive or sleepy and ultimately misses the youthful energy Boogie brought to his earlier mixtape work on tracks like “Bitter Raps” and “Fuck ‘Em All.” However, the low-key approach does allow some subtly beautiful musical touches, like the entrance of a muted trumpet on “Skydive” and the celestial, pleading choir on “No Warning” that hauntingly recalls Boogie’s church music background.
The guest appearances on Everything’s for Sale shine when effectively incorporated into its minimalist style and sorrowful lyrics. Snoh Aalegra’s regret-laden vocals intertwine smoothly with the vocoder-tinted R&B on album closer “Time,” while Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s trumpet adds a layer of mournfulness to the aforementioned “Whose Fault.”
On the other hand, it’s easy to tell when a guest isn’t keyed into Boogie’s method. While 6LACK’s laidback, half-sung flow on “Skydive II” matches nicely with Boogie’s humbly melodic delivery, the casual boastfulness of the guest’s verse fundamentally undercuts Boogie’s modesty and uncertainty. Even further afield is Eminem’s verse on “Rainy Days,” where Em’s aggressive, over-the-top wordplay seems almost incoherent in the context of an otherwise contemplative album.
The disappointing features indicate that Dixson hasn’t quite figured out how to use the collaborative possibilities of a major label to full advantage. He seems unsure of how to provide a welcome break from his own headspace and simultaneously maintain the album’s otherwise united aesthetic. Still, Everything’s for Sale reveals a rapper capable of making thoughtful, understated music that rewards careful attention from listeners caught up in the innermost particulars of Boogie’s life.