Rapper Big Pooh – Words Paint Pictures
Mello Music Group: 2015
The album cover for Rapper Big Pooh latest effort speaks volumes to the current struggles and dilemmas that most black males in America face; a young child crowned as a king, riddled with bullet holes, bleeding into the ground, his hands cuffed behind his back. Powerful symbolism to make you aware exactly what Words Paint Pictures is about, and what he’s here to address – racism and the black experience in America, a justice system that serves injustice more often than not, propaganda in media disguised as pop culture and “television entertainment” – all while offering detailed insight on how we can rise above this seemingly bleak and hopeless landscape placed in front of us.
As most of us already know, Thomas Jones is no stranger to the rap landscape. With a long and notable career as his platform, the talented wordsmith has consistently released solid musical projects since his exit from Little Brother, establishing his own successful career while building a devoted fan base. Heralded as one of the best rappers to emerge from North Carolina, the MC has dropped several quality albums and mixtapes over the last few years: his Black Milk produced, Prince inspired Purple Tape, Dirty Pretty Things and the hilarious Fat Boy Fresh chronicles.
Even with Pooh’s ear for beats, it has always felt as if his delivery and lyrical bravado could easily overshadow the tracks produced for him. Enter Apollo Brown — one of the best new producers emerging within the last decade — and it finally feels as if Pooh has found a musical equal. Using Brown’s ear for well executed loops of classic soul and a strong production technique, Big Pooh creates some of the best music we’ve heard from both artists in a while.
While Pooh is no stranger to tackling social issues on wax, this may be the first time the emcee has dedicated a large portion of an EP to addressing the ills of westernized decay and the social/moral issues at the root of these problems. From reliving a tense traffic stop to eulogizing Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown in “Stop” (with a stellar appearance from Steve Roxx), to reminders that pushers and politicians are inherently one in the same with “Eyes Wide Open”, Pooh’s words slice at the inherent inequalities built into today’s society. “I’m just reminding you of things you already knew” Pooh points out on “Augmentation” – a reminder of what it can be like as a successful, creative black male in America. Drenched in Apollo Brown’s trademark chops, wonderfully thick, heavy drums and usage of the boom bap format, and what we have here is one of Big Pooh’s strongest projects in the last few years. With the powerful ending track “Kings” and outstanding guest spots from Ras Kass, Marv Won, Jalen Santoy, Novej, Eric “Blakk Soul” Keith and more, this EP begins its low-key ascent into “Best of 2015” territory.
If words do indeed paint pictures, then Apollo Brown and Big Pooh have come together to create a lush and beautifully haunting portrait of life as a black male in America, social injustice and hip-hop culture that is incredibly necessary in today’s music scene. Some people might take Pooh’s direct approach to addressing these injustices and social ills as preachy. Others may complain of Apollo’s formulaic, perhaps, slightly predictable beat making and drum patterns. I have no qualms with either, as the results have led to some really good music. The only gripe with Words Paint Pictures, is that it feels like it’s too long to be an EP, yet too short to be an album. However, the nine song EP, might be a strategic move on their part, purposely leaving fans wanting more — and this is definitely the type of album where you want to hear more.4 out of 5
You can purchase Rapper Big Pooh’s Words Paint Pictures on iTunes.