“No matter how you grow, you need to face the unseen.” These are the words from The Seed (2018), a short film Serious Klein released alongside his debut album You Should’ve Known, out on Majestic Casual.The German-based rapper with Ghanian roots dropped this album after three EP’s and a successful grind in the German hip-hop scene.
The Seed was filmed in Ghana and directed by I AM HERE’s Maik Schyster and Max Paschke. The film is about embracing change whilst acknowledging your roots, about accepting yourself whilst setting yourself up to grow. Klein says it functions as a visual representation of his album. The film features the songs Junior and These Days, which he wrote when travelling through Ghana for his father’s funeral.
Chatting with Fader, Klein says: “I was just talking about everything that I experienced and everything that I wanted to show. I wanted to show the true beauty of Ghana because we have a dope ass community over there. You’ve got artists in Ghana, you’ve got photographers, you’ve got all of these super cool people in Ghana, I wanted to show that.”
The album is diverse in influences but steady in tone. Klein delicately draws from trap, soul, and R&B influences but he puts his own spin on it, both lyrically and stylistically. We see this in Junior, which fuses gospel backing vocals with a trap beat, a slick R&B chorus with a firey verse. Klein’s dynamic and diverse approach to songwriting is what separates You Should’ve Known from a lot of standardised hip-hop that’s coming out.
Klein announces his album on social media: “I didn’t really know where I was heading to when I wrote the album, but the process was very natural, there was no need to force a concept, I was at a stage of my life where I was learning to love myself but most importantly understanding what I stand for…”
Serious Klein collaborates intensely with Grammy award-winning Rascal (who smashed out four of the eight tracks in the album). Rascal’s beats are dirty, sharp and swift, the kind of beats that break young rappers. Klein doesn’t break. He rolls with it, constantly hitting the mark and sometimes adding complex layers to already busy rhythms. We see this in Voodoo Money, the fifth track of the album where Klein accentuates Rascal’s work by effortlessly slipping between melody and slick harmony.
In 91 Flex, he builds on Rascal’s off-kilter grove, powering through the verse and creating momentum; the song’s heading fast and we want to know where it’s going. There’s a slow pre-chorus lul before he hits the chorus and its prescribed rhythm with punchy delivery and a strong melody, creating separation between the suspense in the verse and the payoff in the chorus. Serious Klein really gets what Rascal is doing. He has a deep understanding of beats, how he fits into them, and has a ridiculously developed concept of arrangement and rhythm. His earlier work is made to be solid (backstagestories ft scolla (Prod. by Rascal) is a personal favourite), but You Should’ve Known is definitely Klein stepping further into a style crafted uniquely by him.
“My mum taught me that change is a never-ending process. If you’re a kid or if you’re grown, the tree keeps growing, the fire keeps burning. This goes for all of us.”
As an artist, Serious Klein is growing hard and fast. I think he’s more than aware of this and he’s planning to do big things with it.