Cover art for LUDUS. Courtesy of Serious Klein
Serious Klein comes in hard on his opening track, All Factual. A low, distorted drumbeat buzzes in the background as he raps the story of his early artistic rejection and self-made rise to fame. The words are confrontational, the music industrial and aggressive — but only for so long. Klein’s voice eventually drops away, and the song tapers off into a soft melody that surprises after the harsh rhythm and rapid-fire verses of its first half. This dichotomy — intense, abrasive buildup, then soft, musical relief — remains consistent throughout this six-song mini-album.
Ludus is a mix of soul and trap; industrial and alternative rap; dry rhythm and soft, flowing melody. Hardcore rap verses in which Klein flexes his rising fame and power are featured side-by-side with love songs that rhapsodize physical and emotional intimacy.
Tracks like All Factual, Buss It, and Numero Uno crackle with a dry, burning intensity — it sounds as though a single spark could set them aflame. Each has a distinctly ominous undertone: All Factual thumps with a fuzzy, blaring drumbeat; Buss It rumbles with low, gong-like thunder and snippets of trumpet; and Numero Uno unnerves with a dissonant horn melody layered under Klein’s voice. There is no singing, only quick, catch-it-or-you’ll-miss-it rapped verses. Each song is unsettling, but uniquely hypnotic, in this writer’s opinion.
Photo by Gianni Chiarello
Photo by Rok Trzan
Birth of Butterflies, meanwhile, is like a balm for the harshness of its predecessors. The music on this final track is heavy — it sounds as though Klein is being submerged in water, or some other thick liquid that has slowed his words. His voice here is vulnerable — bashful, almost — like a school boy delivering his first confession of love. As a listener, you might feel like a voyeur for getting to hear such tender admissions:
“If I claim you would you say that I’m selfish?
I wanna hold your heart closer than anybody has ever held it
This love done came with patience, and what you brought was greatness
If I count butterflies, just know that you’re my favorite”
Fix Your Heart has a similarly soothing, dream-like quality, although it’s anchored by a steady beat and moderately-quick rapped verses. In this song Klein seems to call out a relationship that’s bringing him harm, in the hopes of healing both himself and the person on the receiving end of his words. His voice is rounded out by soft, rippling notes and shimmering strummed guitar:
“You don’t like the taste but it’s covering all your pain
The perfect frame of a tough n**** you wanna maintain
Talk to me shallow cause you think I need to be entertained
I think you’re missing the point”
Serious Klein’s LUDUS Features a Variety of Rap Styles, Moods and Instruments
While Ludus’ harder rap songs pack a direct punch, Down, Birth of Butterflies, and Fix Your Heart have more of a slow-burning heat that tends to linger. But each is worthy of its place on the album, in this writer’s opinion, as they all serve to express a different side of Klein, and a unique facet of his personal journey. While the more intense songs allow him to showcase his skills as a rapper and wordsmith, the softer tracks reveal his emotional depth and affinity for translating concepts such as love and intimacy into layered, genre-blending music.
Even though it’s only six songs long, Ludus is powerfully balanced and richly nuanced — if you don’t find a song that riffs off your own mood and energy level, you might instead find one that leaves you feeling invigorated and refreshed.
This EP is a standout for fans of experimental and alternative rap — especially those who enjoy a mix of emotions, genres and instruments.
About the Author: Lily LeaVesseur
Lily LeaVesseur has harbored a fondness for the arts since she was a few months old, when her parents took her on her first of many stroller rides through the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago. Even after moving to San Diego as a child, she returned many times so that she could stare down her favorite pieces, combing them over again and again for clues to their greatness.
She carried this enthusiasm like a missionary, and in high school petitioned to re-open the single Art History course on the roster so that she could study it with her friends. She loved feeling like she could unlock some sort of intangible mystery behind works of art, and looking for herself within the artists that created them.
Since then Lily has continued to explore art both analytically and creatively. She now writes poetry and non-fiction, sometimes accompanied by illustrations or watercolor, and hopes to one day collect these works into a graphic novel. When she's not writing or drawing, she can otherwise be found skating with friends, experimenting with new food combinations, and/or lying on the floor contemplating the transcendental nature of TikTok.