Seth Sentry’s ‘The Waitress Song’ was on significant rotation all through 2009 and 2010 and I had no conception of who the guy was, what he might look like or indeed, whether he had major label distribution or was pushing along, trying to make ends meet, by himself. The production on that sparse track – as well as the charming pseudo-film noir clip that accompanied it – gave you the impression that Sentry hadn’t yet hit the big leagues but the thing with Seth was that it didn’t matter. Commercial circumstance and cultural kudos were so far from his raison d’etre that it seemed impious to even consider them listening to his music. Instead, taking the reputation of Australian rappers for cheeky, often heartfelt lyrics to its most natural, authentic extension, Sentry produced songs – 2009’s ‘Waitress Song’ and ‘Simple Game‘ and this year’s ‘My Scene’ – with a focus on lyrical sentiment and narrative ingenuity and an aversion to the affectations and pomp that so often burden hip-hop.
On ‘Simple Game’, the Melbourne artist – who, it turns out, released his debut ‘The Waiter Minute EP’ in 2009 independently after penning most of its lyrics on the back of serviettes between taking orders at his day job in a restaurant – claims, axiomatically, ‘Life is simple, I developed a complex.’ It is in addressing the complexities of everyday existence in the most straightforward of fashions with a deadpan flow that belies the emotive intensity of many of his tracks that Sentry has won me over. While production commonly borders on elemental, sparse instrumentation and restrained beats serve only to intensify the sophistication and force of the everyman wisdom that Sentry delivers, consistently incisive and often hilarious in his acute social commentary.
Three years of toiling in relative anonymity has done nothing to attenuate the strength of Sentry’s reflections on the world he lives in. The appeal of ‘My Scene’ lies in the fact that Seth’s world is just like our world. Far from having shot to fame off the back of his first two singles, Sentry is still well grounded in the realm of mere mortals and, like us, is desperate to feel a part of something. The theme of cliques has been examined in every teen flick ever produced but Sentry’s treatment, delivered in such a self-effacing, honest and funny way, trumps many of these because it so accurately reflects real life. We all know the stoners, the hipsters, the corporate types that populate Sentry’s ‘scenes’ and his lazy but considered approach to membership in them mirrors our own weary take on scenesters. Some criticism might be leveled at Seth for his rap mannerisms (often seeming to fall short of a definitional understanding of the genre) but the well communicated universality of his subject matter is beyond reproach. I almost don’t want him to garner mainstream attention, anxious it might colour his insights, but that might well be a forgone conclusion. Quit your day job, Seth.
Seth Sentry – My Scene