In 2008, acts like the Cool Kids, U-N-I and other boutique fashion rappers were at their peak, crushing the hip-hop scene with their trendy free releases. Since then, it appeared the sneaker spitters had lost much of their relevance, proving that some groups were simply more fit than others to adapt to the fast paced Internet rap game. One such group was Pac Div, who came out swinging as early as 2006, making an impact with a few notable free releases like Sealed for Freshness and Church League Champions. They were able to stir up enough hype to gain the attention of Universal Motown, who thought it would be a good idea to sign the group. Before an official release with the label, though, Pac Div ripped up the contract and were faced with the task of rebuilding nearly everything.
That period of rebuilding did not come easy, either. Releases like Don’t Mention It and Mania! were solid, but they didn’t give Pac Div much traction in the grander scheme of things. All along, it seemed like the group just needed to be independent, as their first release since dropping from the label came by way of The DiV in 2011—also serving as their debut full-length to the world. And it was a good album as well, as Pac Div flexed their swift flows on production from Swiff D, No I.D., Blended Babies and more, but it was by no means the deal breaker for this incredibly promising threesome.
That is where GMB comes in, an album that serves not only as a reinvention of the group, but a return to normalcy. That might sound contradictory, but it is the best way to describe where Pac Div is coming from on their new full-length. With GMB, Pac Div has found a comfort zone, all the while challenging themselves with a diverse enough selection of songs that keep you on your toes throughout. Well, diverse enough, as there are really just two types of songs to expect on GMB: the silky smooth, jazzy love songs and the heavy, pure-spitting bangers? “Can’t Help It” and the Chuck Inglish produced “Slow” are slapped together on the album, and they are essentially the same song–catchy, lady wooing easy listeners. As is the case with “Bank”, “Automatic” and “Sneakerboxes”, three similarly seasoned tracks, filled with retro sounds and braggadocios rhymes. Which leads us to believe that a song or three could have been excluded for the sake of brevity.
Just as there are redundancies, there are most certainly a selection of standout tracks to match. Most notably “Cross Trainers”, which sports not only one of the heaviest beats of the year, but guest verses from Left Coast representatives Blu and Kendrick Lamar. While we love to hear both of those cats spit introspective raps, it is great to hear this handful of elite poets go cypher-style on this immaculate Swiff D break beat. The sleeper pick of GMB goes to “Black Acura”, which features the usually disappointing Mac Miller bodying the grimacing Thelonious Martin beat alongside Mibbs, Like and Be Young.
The album comes to a celebratory close with the New York boom-bap-based “It’s All Love”, which is a rather fitting note showing how far this Los Angeles trio has come. That is, from the crippling point of uncertainty to a thriving group that finds itself collaborating with hip-hop’s finest. It is clear a group like this can’t be held back by the walls of a major label, but instead must thrive by finding their own stride through organic growth. GMB is by no means a hip-hop game breaker, but it does prove that Pac Div is worth every bit of the hype that has been tossed around for nearly five years now.