Artist: Rapper Big PoohTitle: SleepersRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Matt Barone
Ever since The Listening, Poohs gotten a lot meaner, Rapper Big Pooh reveals on Now off his debut Sleepers (6 Hole). Referring to Little Brothers 2003 formal introduction, Pooh, one-third of that underground Cinderella story, has seemingly felt like that neglected sibling in a family of individual successes since said albums release. 9th Wonders sample-heavy beats have benefited artists ranging from Destinys Child to Jay-Z, while Poohs rhyming partner Phonte has reached MTV exposure with his and Netherlands-based beat-maker Nicolays Foreign Exchange project. A true man on a mission, Big Pooh issues a deafening wake-up call with his solo debut, Sleepers, face slapping all those who have dozed on him to this point.
The latest brick in North Carolina-based Justus Leagues foundation of quality, Sleepers is as much a testament to the production prowess of in-house League button-pushers 9th Wonder and Khrysis as it is to Poohs abilities. Going track for track with one head-nod inducing instrumental after another, Poohs backing duo provides him with a diverse yet consistently fluid soundtrack. Strongest Man finds Poohs confidence ripping through 9th Wonders DJ Premier-esque string and percussion assault, providing a crisp contrast to 9ths somber acoustic guitar plucks for Poohs street-corner commentary on Heart of the City. Not one to be outdone, Khrysis ups the musical ante on the aforementioned, Murs-assisted Now, splicing vocal wails into a hypnotically ambient concoction. On I Dont Care, Khrysis old-school boom-bap inspires Poohs self-assured mission statement of, Got my label in a state of duress, cuz I know something they dont/ That this nigga right here is their key to success.
Flawless backdrops aside, though, Sleepers is mainly triumphant due to Poohs defiant showing and proving. What makes his words so engaging is his every man appeal, attacking relatable topics that never sound foreign to listeners. Have a shorty you cant seem to get the attention of? So does Pooh, as heard on the effervescent bounce of Between The Lines, where he propositions a disinterested lady to his charms. Ever get the girl, and then have second thoughts? He knows the feeling, and addresses it on the estrogen expectation deflating Just Friends, where our host bursts a females bubble with, Bitch please, Snoop said it best, I dont love these hoes, and I suggest/ That you find another sucker nigga for that game plan.
Even when adopting a more serious disposition, Pooh displays equal finesse. He turns negatives into positives along with O-Dash and Spectac on the uplifting Live Life, while on the emotional Scars (Cut Me Deep), Median and Joe Scudda offer tight contributions but are eclipsed by the Rapper over 9th Wonders melancholy vocal loop. Here, Pooh warns, Some niggas get trife when you playing with their life/ And they go for their knife, or they bust off at you twice/ Or they take it to your crib and put a couple in your wife.
If not for the fact that he rarely switches up his conversational flow, leading to brief moments of monotony, Rapper Big Poohs album would be damn near perfect. Easily approachable for all audiences, hes crafted a song collection devoid of excess flash, stripped down to the bone with honesty and genuine songwriting. As previously hinted at, this virgin-tight disc owes heavily to his post-Listening irate side. Unlike Bruce Banner, Hip-hop audiences will definitely like Big Pooh when hes angry.