In today’s Hip Hop, groups aren’t what they used to be, but things could be changing. Supergroups are the trend that was dominant in the 90s, except they weren’t called Supergroups, they were just regular groups. De La Soul, The Fugees, Heltah Skeltah, Outkast, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, The Pharcyde, etc.; what did they all have in common? They had their distinctive vibe and characteristics that made them memorable for years on end. Pac Div is a West Coast trio that displays not only a funky vibe to them, but they can switch it up with a street vibe as well. Their debut album The Div flew under the radar, which is a shame because it was a well put together album that was critically acclaimed but not that commercially accepted, like most hip hop these days.
This next album was going to be a step up from where they left off, but continuing with their sound as they continue to shape their craft. The initials in GMB stand for each member’s first name: Gabe, Michael, and Bryan. Like (Michael) is the producer of the three, and he’s done a bunch of outside work throughout the year (Dying of Thirst on GKMC for example), and based on the singles that came out before the album, it sounded like a gem.
Production is more important than actual lyrics these days because anyone can just have a catchy hook but a good beat is what makes it memorable because it’s the first thing you hear when it comes on. The Intro on the album was backed by a sort of dream sequence feel to it, but it served its purpose of being an intro to get you into the vibe of the album, and it definitely hit on a good note.
The West Coast vibe hit right off the bat with The Return. The classic ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’ vibe made you feel like you were in a low-rider driving in South Central L.A with the hydraulics in full effect. The story of their past and childhood influences plus the fact that it’s their 2nd album, so that would be the ‘return’ that I’d imagine that they would be referencing too. Many West Coast acts are automatically compared to the older heads with the likes of Dr. Dre, Eazy E, Ice Cube, etc., but it’s important to emphasize that although they might be influences, they’re not trying to emulate their styles exactly, and Pac Div definitely has their own sound, because they have that G-Funk of the past, but the hip of the present.
The problem with present day Hip Hop in many cases is that the ‘corny’ and less substance type of sound is in, while the rappers with more than just basic Top 40 songs and a club anthem get tossed to the side. There’s always a phase in Hip Hop with each generation, but the good stuff won’t ever be on the radio, so we have to take charge by other means. Bank is a track that describes having to take action with no authorization.
Man what’s it going to take?
Always making ground breaking shit that don’t break?
All the corny ass nigga got cake
So how much of my corny ass shit it’ gon’ take
Time to rob a bank
You know the thought of robbing a bank has crossed your mind more than once before because things weren’t going your way and you wanted it your way now. You can be honest – I am. So, living vicariously through their words, the bunch share their tale as to how they would do it. Sort of like that book that O.J Simpson wrote ‘If I Did It’. There are so many ways aside from rapping to get money, and if it has to be done illegally, then so be it. Sometimes you have to get gritty, and sometimes (in your head) robbing a bank is a good idea, but let’s be real…how many of us have the balls (or ovaries) to do it? I don’t advocate it, so don’t look to me for words of encouragement.
Since we’re keeping it honest, a big part of Hip Hop that brings a lot of rappers’ status and credit down is keeping it honest, and just telling the Truth. Humble beginnings, shady business and groupies come with success, and Pac Div has experienced that up to this point. They’re still on their way up, but they brought it back to the concrete rap with a great feel and a message that they’re going to continue what they’re doing and it’s great that they do, because they make great music that gets overlooked.
Sneakerboxes were (and probably still are) used as money stashes for emergency money. It’s a smart idea that I wish I would have learned about, but I’ve had a bank account since I was 12 (or less), so it’s something I didn’t really have to consider. Plus, I wasn’t a hustler child. Making money must have been a hobby back in the day, so it just comes easy for some these days, and going broke isn’t an option. The flow used by P.D sounded like one of those flows that you hear from just rapping with your boys on the corner on the block on an everyday afternoon. It’s reminiscent of the style that The Cool Kids made (no pun intended) cool.
We (men) all had crushes back in the day and fantasized about that one girl that we couldn’t get at the time (or we did, but it just took time to get her) and it killed us, because we just wanted THAT girl. Bringing it back to the high school days, the Faircrest Heights interlude put it into perspective. I researched that Faircrest Heights is a neighbourhood in Los Angeles; sounds like a nice area. Slow & Can’t Help It play into the interlude, because they’re still related to the one girl (or maybe one girl for each of guys). To be in the industry and to have a girl, it can be difficult because you’re not always there. It goes from the progression of: Want the girl, get the girl, try to keep the girl. It’s a full-time job being in a relationship, and the person you’re with has to respect your hustle and understand that you have to do other things just to get by, whether it’s work, or the pursuit of a career.
Features were bountiful and for the most part great. Combining past and present with the likes of Kurupt, DJ Battlecat, Blu, Kendrick Lamar, and Mac Miller (did I mention Blu? Oh yes I did). Fuck Y’all, Cross-Trainers, & Black Acura are all great tracks (minus the feature of Mac Miller on Black Acura, because I just detest him greatly). In the three songs, you get messages to the haters that screwface from the sideline, running the hip hop game (or a proclamation to do so), and that where they are now is just the beginning of the experience of Pac Div.
This whole album is solid backed by production from Like, Scoop DeVille, Thelonius Martin, Swiff D, and a host of others. The lyrics that fuelled this album were a continuation of The Div, but had a greater emphasis on where they are as of now, and still telling their story of their come up. The feel good Hip Hop vibe is slowly coming back, but it won’t get seen in the mainstream all that quickly. Pac Div has a trait that many will link to the older groups of the 90s (as I did in the opening paragraph) because they have that vibe that is refreshing and new. No Superman is arguably the best song on the album because, we’re not invincible, yet we try to do everything. We can only be in control of our lives, but we can’t save everyone. The message in the song and the beat itself (with a bouncy hook) made it all around great, and that was the vibe I got from the album. It was bouncy, it was hip, there was soul, and there was musical diversity throughout. It’s a great album to listen to, and is definitely one of the sleepers of this year. It could be in conversation for best of the year as far as Hip Hop albums go. I don’t see why not. Listen and find out. But, this is just my opinion & my review, so for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX