P's & Q's

Artist: LMNOTitle: P's & Q'sRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dubstin G

Cali rapper LMNO (Leave My Name Out) has been on the scene for more than 10 years, dropping three albums as a member of the Visionaries, as well as two solo projects. On his latest album, cleverly titled P’s & Q’s (Up Above), LMNO combines exceptionally honest and carefully crafted lyrics with some impressive production and talented guests stars like Chali 2na and Supernatural, in a tapestry of positive energy, vision and integrity.

P’s & Q’s is anchored by LMNO’s lyrics, which combine witty wordplay (“a lawyer with braces charging a retainer”) with candid meditations on his personal life and opinions. Unlike most MCs, LMNO isn’t afraid to come off like an actual human being with emotions. Instead of bashing his biological father, LMNO uses “Clutch” to thank his step-dad for raising him right. On “Deeper,” he expresses his love for his girl and his excitement for their upcoming marriage, unlike Nas, who used his wedding as an excuse to brag about his past sexual conquests. LMNO also talks briefly about his personal approach to religion on a handful of tracks, without getting preachy or whoring out his beliefs like Kanye. However, the album’s best moments come from its more upbeat or intense moments instead of its serious ones. LMNO opens the album by shocking you with its title track, “P’s & Q’s,” where he rocks a KeyKool beat that would be heard on the radio 20 times a day if a more commercial MC rapped over it. Polyhedron provides the albums two best beats with the powerful layered organ samples of “A Portion,” featuring the extremely underrated 2MEX, and the flipped disco sounds of “Better,” possibly P’s & Q’s hottest track.

Like most Hip-Hop albums, P’s & Q’s could be a bit shorter. A majority of the album is produced by LD, who shines on tracks like “Industry Revival,” but bores with “Forgive Us” and “Aerosol Migrants.” LMNO’s flow is also a bit unremarkable at times, and his voice is certainly not for everyone.

Overall, LMNO adds to a successful career outside the mainstream with P’s & Q’s, which is an enjoyable and often poignant listen, despite its flaws. LMNO says it best himself on the chorus of “A Portion,” where he tells us “I'm only a portion of who I'm supposed to be / If only I was at my full potential, it would be trouble for most these MCs.”