Sage The Gemini might’ve been the most unlikeliest star of 2013 when it was all said and done. In a year where “twerk” became officially added to the Oxford Dictionary, Vine compressed Internet gems into six second clips, and streaming claimed king as music’s biggest profit, perhaps no one benefited as much from the change in the times than Sage The Gemini. His single “Red Nose” became last summer’s breakout hit, charming audiences with it’s hypnotizing allure, infectious hook, and grindtastic dance, spreading beyond it’s West Coast boundaries and onto the Billboard charts.
While it would’ve be easy to write the kid off as a one-hit wonder, “Gas Pedal” arrived soon after and appeared to solidify the Fairfield-native as a bonafide hitmaker. The single vaulted over much more established hip-hop acts and peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard charts before later on achieving platinum status. Now, nearly a year later, he hopes to extend his worth with the release of his debut album Remember Me, with his HBK Gang members in tow and a few special appearances from August Alsina, Eric Bellinger and Justin Bieber.
The album starts off with it’s title track “Remember Me”, wasting no time in immediately issuing a Bay Area banger with the track serving as a braggadocio stunt to those who may or may not have shrugged him off in the past. Soon after reveling in his “back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot they all on me” moment, the album pushes forward into this lengthy stretch of self-produced party anthems including his singles “Red Nose” and “Gas Pedal” featuring Iamsu!. “Bad Girls” is a bad girl PSA, thinly veiled within it’s knocking soundscape, informing the world of the not-so-friendly choices in obtaining a bad girl. The jittery and spacey “Go Somewhere” only kicks things up a notch, feeling like another strong contender for a summer single that could go the distance once again and holding a lot more potential than the forced “College Drop” featuring Kool John which looks like a ploy to duplicate the “Red Nose” success.
While debut albums in this day and age lend their share of depth in capturing the artist’s raise, Sage’s winning formula on the club front rarely leaves it’s surface concepts, and that may be because those joints aren’t as potent. “Put Me On” occurs after the prolonged club stretch, revisiting the chip on his shoulder from the opening track which comes with newfound fame. “Just because I can’t help you niggas be artists / And got the nerve to tell me don’t forget where I started,” he raps on the Shady Bo-featured cut.
Featured players are limited to R&B’s newest wonder kid August Alsina on the record’s latest single “Down On Your Luck”, Eric Bellinger on the closer “Second Hand Smoke”, and The Heartbreak Gang. His tag team performances with HBK Gang’s head honcho Iamsu also produces some fine moments on the LP with “Nothing To Me” lining up right along with the previously mentioned “Go Somewhere” and “Gas Pedal” as promising records in Sage’s early catalog.
Aside from the much larger sound, the lyrics — while clearly not the most prominent attributes of this album, are sharp and simple. While certainly not enough to fly over your head with lyrics like “I’m big on niggas ears like keloids” (“Put Me On”) and “She choke more than a cinnamon challenge” (“Down On Your Luck”) are enough to make you backtrack and wonder did he really say that? Certainly not a lyrical savant by any means, but it’s enough to push the record from A to B.
There’s a lot of eyes on the West nowadays, and Sage The Gemini is contributing to the success just as much as Kendrick Lamar, YG or DJ Mustard. But in talking about albums that can hold up, Remember Me is ironically not up to the task. Its greatest moments shine through in club hits that seeped through virally on the web and made him a nationwide phenomenon on the radio, it’s other moments aren’t as flashy. There’s no question that Remember Me is best served with the volume turned all the way up.—Jameel Raeburn