Louder Than Fiction

Artist: Rico PabonTitle: Louder Than FictionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Matt Caputo

With Louder Than Fiction (Hard Knock), Rico Pabon's latest release, the Puerto Rican rapper finds the middle ground between raggaeton and pure Hip-Hop. Born to a family of Salsa musicians in Queens, N.Y., Pabon had stops in The Bronx and Boston before settling down in the Bay Area. On this fourth album, Pabon draws parallels between Wast and West Coast hood culture full of fuego.

Pabon lets go from the get-go on the very first track, "Lay Em Down". With guest appearances from stic.man of Dead Prez and Inti Illimani's Spanish fly flow, Pabon's skillful style meshes well over the song's Latin samples and piano loops. Equally as official is the second track, "My Peoples", which is a joint featuring Kimiko Joy where jazz horns and scratches meet Pabon's impressive natural ability. "It Ain't Real" expounds on the theme of activism, which underlines almost the entire track listing. Pabons says, Blame it all on just a couple of corporations, just a handful control the flow of information, old money families used to own the plantations, in a successful attempt at illustrating a pattern and linking the past and present.

However, cuts such as "Gothman City" could have been left off the album, which runs a full seventeen tracks. Below-average production and a simplistic flow and hook make the joint a misfit. At time, the album tends to get redundant. Songs such as "Rock On" and "Make It" don't offer anything new in terms of lyricism and production, sounding way too similar. "Standing Up" shows Pabon channeling his reggaeton influences, but still continues on a path of introspection and emotion.

Pabon covers himself pretty well with tracks such as "Write Lines", where he offers his insight on the power behind writing raps and the force behind the Hip-Hop movement. Pabon does keep it truly funk with quality rips such as "Pa Fuera", which boasts appearances by Zion I and Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

From Corona, Queens to Cali, Louder Than Fiction makes a solid case for Pabon's musical ability. His energetic Bay Area flow and vast visions of New York-like street circumstances make his lyrics valid and poignant. Louder Than Fiction's blend of reggaeton and rap makes the album totally consumable and entertaining, all delivered with a tight style worth listening to.