Monday, May 4, 2009

Pro’Verb’s The Nominee (Go Pro or Go Home) comes up short on The Glass House’ Poll

Overall GPA: 2.42, C+
Artistry: C
Wordplay: C+
Beat Chemistry: A-
Relativity Factor: C-

As we all know, one of the pillars upon which hip hop was built is the “battle rap mentality,” some forty years later, Pro’Verb births a District debut drowning in the influence of hip hop’s beginnings. The mixtape, The Nominee (Go Pro or Go Home), begins with a satirical intro in which Pro’Verb renames himself “Pro’Bama” and carries this persona throughout the tape. Sounds like a good idea, right? However, something rather important gets lost in translation—a sense of authenticity.

Pro’Verb’s persona spits bars that are clever at best, but mostly come off as a superficial wit, evaporating from one’s memory just as quickly as the beat fades. In the track, “Biggie Sandwich” Pro says, “. . .you probably even know my jams. I got peanut butter flows for the hungry fans.” Despite the sticky substance mentioned in this verse, there is no substance to be found in this wit. A mixtape or album built on this mentality alone, cannot sustain listeners.

What’s more is Pro’Verb preoccupies himself with battling some unheard of/unseen enemy (aka The Invisible Emcee)—and at times it wasn’t so much in his words, but his intonation and energy. All the while, he misses the point(s)—that he is his own toughest competitor and that his skills have their own greatness without a comparison against The Invisible Emcee or anyone else. In keeping with the Glass House Review system theme, don’t get so preoccupied with the Bell Curve that you don’t make some flash cards. Pro did score above average with tracks like, “Listen with Ur Left Ear” and “Rumors like Tumors". Here he was able to strike the balance of being creative, substantive and memorable. In addition, these cuts were rare explosions of his true confidence and style. This authentic esteem continues when Pro’s connecting with another artist (i.e “The Rapture”, “So Much Pain in My Life”). Thus, revealing to listeners that his style is a work in progress.

However, the most refreshing part of Pro’s developing style and delivery is the level of consciousness infused in his lyrics. Pro’s gift to us on this tape is his ability to teach and enlighten. In “Welcome”, he finds his footing with a lyrical bombshell - “Somebody told me ain’t no talent in this city/We won’t never win/Just listen to the radio, we don’t never spin/We ain’t like y’all, we won’t never blend/Got our own swag/So they won’t let us in/The city come alive right around Letterman/The DMV stay poppin’/Tell a friend/Chocolate city, covered in melanin, except for the crooked politicians, donkeys, and elephants/The White House ain’t just home of The President/It’s the home of the hustlers and what they peddling/No degrees, they practicing street medicine/The percentage of us in prison is the evidence". This track tells the story of DC’s plight, the current State of Emergency and what anyone, not just hip-hop, has to overcome in the Nation’s Capital. Not only does this verse showcase Pro’s intellect, but his ability to add weight to his clever wordplay. His potential is swelling in this track and with time he will emerge as one of DC’s premier artists.

Though something was lacking in The Nominee it wasn’t in the production category. Best Kept Secret (BKS) and EQuinox Professionals cooked up a stellar commercial product consisting of diverse sounds, samples, and original beat construction. Thus, serving as the foundation for the mixtape. The Glass House gives it an A- because on a few occasions, it overshadows the artist and borders on sounding too mainstream, but for the most part BKS and Equinox create just the right environment for reveal Pro’s incubating talent. “Too Hot”, “Dreamin’”, “Hip-Hop Heads” and “Almost Famous” are must hear cuts on the mixtape.

Overall, The Nominee is an average freshman showing for Pro’Verb. It’s clear that Pro hasn’t completely made the difficult transition from freestyling and battle rapping. Perhaps, it’s a case of an MC trying his hand at rapping (all MC’s aren’t rappers and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). While the presence of natural talent is undeniable in this mixtape, his style wants for discipline and an authentic confidence. After all, just saying you’re amazing doesn’t get you an A+-- you still have to study. Only then will Pro’Verb defeat the real Invisible Emcee and competition, his ego.

“Keeping the cursor blinking and the pen bleeding…”

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