Artist: PumpkinheadTitle: Orange Moon Over BrooklynRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Bill “Low-Key” Heinzelman
What do Canibus, Ras Kass and Pumpkinhead have in common? They are all great lyricists who have struggled to find suitable production to match their wit on the mic. This holds true on Pumpkinhead’s third release Orange Moon Over Brooklyn (Soulspazm/Beat Society). While the average head may have slept on Pumpkinhead all these years, he has acquired a solid underground backing from his lengthy battle career and two noteworthy albums, Old Testament and A Beautiful Mind EP. But unlike most battle artists, Pumpkinhead is a well-rounded emcee who can provide creative and conceptual material. This is evident on Orange Moon . However, with beat makers Marco Polo and Moss providing inconsistent production, Pumpkinhead fails to build upon the success he saw on A Beautiful Mind EP.
The typical underground group collaboration by Pump and The Plague on “Monkey Shine” falters over Moss’ simplistic combination of hard drums and light keys. The album’s introduction, “Alkaline ‘N’ Acid,” starts off well with a dark and haunting piano loop, but it unfortunately switches over to a quirky circus like beat from Polo, which fails to blend with Pumpkinhead’s sharp punch lines. Similarly, Polo brings in “I Just Wanna Rhyme” with a mellow piano loop, only to abandon it for overbearing and repetitive keys
However, Polo does rebound and provide some standout production. This is seen on the lyrical clinic put on by Pump, Supastition and Wordsworth on “Trifactor” and “Swordfish,” which features Archrival. But the real gems on Orange Moon come when Pumpkinhead opens up and delves into his life. He gets introspective on “Rock On,” as he addresses his turbulent rap career and his motives behind sticking with the rap game. “Here” continues this story, as Pumpkinhead professes his love for Hip-Hop and his inner strength, which is stated perfectly on the track’s hook, “I’m not going no where man, I’m right here/So keep sending the hate that only shows fear/You’ll never relate to my blood, sweat and tears/And guess what man, I’m still here.” Closing the album out with a bang is “Anthem For The End Of The World,” as Pump, Jean Grae and Chas sermonize and express their disgust with various social and political issues such as war, pollution and poverty.
Pumpkinhead shows glimpses of greatness on Orange Moon , but with inconsistent production, many tracks tend to be hit or miss. There is no questioning Pumpkinhead’s lyrical and conceptual talent, but you can’t help feeling he is capable of more. If you are not familiar with Pumpkinhead’s work, then Orange Moon Over Brooklyn will be a nice introduction. However, long time fans will still be waiting for the production side to finally catch up to Pumpkinhead.