While Rapper Big Pooh has consistently dropped at least one album, EP, or mixtape every year since 2008, he seemingly sat last year out. The MC known for his role in the Little Brother trio dropped full albums with Nottz (Home Sweet Home) and Apollo Brown (Words Paint Pictures) in 2015 on Mello Music Group, and in 2016 he self-released the Everything 4 Sale EP. Similarly, Dr. Dre/Aftermath Entertainment affiliate Focus… had busy years in 2015 and 2016, but was relatively quiet in 2017. Heads recently learned that Pooh has been DJ’ing at events as well as managing a talented MC from his region: Dreamville artist Lute. So, the RPM (Rapper Pooh Music) collaboration album should satisfy listeners who have been eagerly anticipating this fix.
This duo knows fans been waiting because they address it immediately on RPM. The intro “No More Favors” features Violator DJ’s/Slum Village affiliate Scrap Dirty complaining about how long the album is taking and instructs the recording artists to stop doing favors for people until they sew up this project. For those not familiar with Focus…, he is the senior producer in Dr. Dre’s Aftermath stable. His production (Slum Village, The Game, Dr. Dre, Xzibit) is marked by clean samples and big drums. That is exactly what he serves up from the jump on RPM.
The stripped-down lead single, “Pray | Prey” featuring Dancehall singer Cocoa Sarai released ahead of the project. The raw cut sets the tone for the album. “Check! 1ne” and “Check! 2wo” follow and are basically a two-part song, as there is no pause between them, and Pooh starts rapping again right as his guest Akilz Amari close out the first track. Justus League member Chaundon is the feature on “Check! 2wo” and he flips a dope Uptown flow many will compare to Camp Lo.
Former Major Figgas and Re-Up Gang member Ab Liva shows up on “Roses,” on which Focus incorporates all kinds of bugged out noises…mad scientist music. Out of the 12 tracks here, “City of Ink” sounds most like it could belong on an Aftermath release. It’s got that crisp thump. Another standout is “Burn,” a joint where Rapper goes for MCs’ throats while making insightful social commentary at the same time. Crooner C.S. Armstrong passionately delivers the hook, “How long will we watch the flame / ’Til the ashes fall down like the rain / How long will we watch them burn, burn, burn.”
The 28-minute project ends strong with “Who Are They,” a two-beat jam that starts with a ‘90s throwback feel and then drops into a smoothed-out vibe. Big Pooh buries the comp on this one, “We ain’t chummy, we ain’t cool, we ain’t fam, I ain’t ya big homie / I don’t associate with the phony / I put ‘they’ in a box and pack ‘they’ ass away / Why wait until you gone? Here’s a bouquet / Smell the roses.”
Press photograph by Tobias Rose provided by The Elixir Group.