"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Friday, November 14, 2008

Who The Hell Are The P Brothers And How The Hell Is "The Gas" So Fuckin' Good?

You know, I really think that cover really speaks for itself...

Apparently, I was wrong. I didn't realize that this could still happen. I was under the deeply flawed impression that since the advent of the internet age that it was impossible for an artist to completely sneak under my radar and drop a record that's so good and so completely off the grid that one is forced to ponder how the fuck did these guys go so unnoticed. I mean I thought I was up on shit. I check Nah Right daily. I read all the blogs that are worth a damn (and some that aren't...). I have untold legions of shitty MySpace rappers (and shitty rappers with label deals. I'm looking at you, Max B...) send me their ill-conceived Soulja Boy rip-off songs at rate that my Gmail spam filter is begging me for respite. So it seemed to me that it was completely inconceivable that an artist could just appear on my radar and drop one of my favorite records this year. But lo and behold, The P Brothers just did.


The P Brothers are two blokes hailing from Nottingham, England by the way of (inexplicably) the Bronx and their new album, "The Gas", is the sort of hardcore New York-esque rap album you thought they stopped making the second 50 Cent single-handedly murdered the rest of the scene back in the earlier quotient of this decade. The P Brothers consisting of DJ Ivory and Paul S are producers whose signature sound sounds like a minimalist El-P colliding with Infamous-era Mobb Deep and the RZA. Their beats are dirty and rugged and you can feel the dusty grooves and worn vinyl of the records they tirelessly sifted through in smelly, decrepit Mom & Pop record stores in the United Kingdom. The P Brothers have been kicking around the U.K.’s underground hip hop scene for years having worked with the likes of Sadat X and Donald D over the years so this makes it all the more surprising that they never even came close to crossing my instinctive travels over the paths of rhythm and rap music over my life. It seems completely inexplicable that I’ve neither heard of them or heard their work before. I mean I’ll admit there is a lot of stuff that I willfully have ignored over the years (I’m not an encyclopedia of marginal rap acts like noz) like the lesser works of No Limit, the discography of Mac Dre, and the entirety of any music produced by the country of Canada but I know who these people are How this managed to happen? I haven’t the foggiest but if I have to blame anybody I’m blaming Tom Breihan. Why? Just because…

Make no mistake, “The Gas” is decidedly throwback but in ways that you forgot good east coast (or in this case, British hip hop or as I like to say “reverse west coast” rap) could be. The bass overpowers and stalks the track menacingly, the drums smash against the melody like their supposed to and the vocal attack the beat. Unlike many producer driven LPs, the record is not driven by a stream of famous and semi-famous rappers of the moment but rather a quintet of unknown rap acts out of the Bronx which gives the album a cohesive feeling. Boss Money (Apparently, the remnants of a group called Boss Money Players…a group, I apparently have on my iPod. Go figure?), Roc Marciano, Milano, Res Connected and $amhill provide gritty, street raps while at times workmanlike allow the star of the show, the brothers head knocking beats to take center stage. Honestly, if there is a flaw on this record, it would be the emceeing. None of these acts really catch my eye as great rappers. They all seem kind of blandly generic, New York street tough mixtape rappers (except without the Nah Right pedigree and co-sign) . The only rapper I might revise that decision is $amhill who provides the vocals for the album’s stunning closer, “Don’t Question Me”, in which he crafts a stunning ode to loyalty, romantic or otherwise.

The album’s best songs knock with intensity and ruggedness. “Digital B-Boy”, the album’s best song, an electronic wall of buzz and old school beat break drums, is the perfect music for riding the subways late at night when the only passengers on the train are you, the passed out homeless dude smelling like Boone’s Farm and societal neglect, and the creepy dude who either keeps eyeing you to snatch your wallet Deebo style or make sweet, sweet love to your unwilling buttocks in the abandoned subway station. “Outta Control” featuring Roc Marciano is a razor in your mouth street anthem with a minimalist ’88 vibe and a bass line so memorable and powerful that you’ll find yourself humming it yourself when your cold and alone. These are the standouts but the record is packed with songs like these. Their isn’t a weak cut on the entire album.


“The Gas” is a record that is going to appeal to people who prefer Pete Rock to Timbaland. If you’re the type of dude who gets bored by anything that remotely sounds like it come out of an era that didn’t suck and generally prefer mediocre, “post-lyrical” rappers than you’re going to want to stay far away from this record. You’ll probably hate it. Violently. “The Gas” is a record that warms the boom bap dinosaur that resides deep within my heart. But hey, fear not Young Jeezy lovers, they rap about selling coke on this album. Wonderful!


25 comments:

Jason said...

It's just an average album. Not remarkable in anyway, vaguely like some Cannibal Ox shit, production underwhelming as well. And my ratio just dipped unnecessarily on what.cd now...

Passion of the Weiss said...

I dunno, I think it's a very good album with very average rapping buoyed by brutal, dystopic beats. It's not as good as Can Ox, mainly because no one here is half as interesting or weird as Vast Aire used to be.

Badmon3333 said...

You're welcome, Doc.

Some more left-field shit: Scott Burns' "Day 1" is the best Australian hip-hop record I've ever heard (that's not saying much, but it is definitely a good record)... Skreintax's "Scene Stealers" is some boom-bap British rap.

Re: the first two comments... it's unfair to compare this to 'The Cold Vein,' which I am confident will stand up as the best underground rap album of the mid-to-late '90s (I might be asking for it with that one).

Also... I am almost 100 percent sure the rappers on "The Gas" are actually the former Money Boss Players, that appeared on the "America Is Dying Slowly" soundtrack and on Sadat X's "Wild Cowboys" joint.

Badmon3333 said...

I'm half-inclined to agree with Passion of the Weiss re: the rapping, but I hesitate to call it average just because it's what you might refer to as generic street rap. To some extent, given all of the modern lyrical innovators from Talib Kweli to Vast Aire to Doom, it's hard to view that particular type of rap as anything but passe... but it's all in how you do it. A fair percentage of GZA's raps aren't about all that much more than the subject matter on "The Gas," but the quality is in the way it's spit.

Also, in much the same way as the MCs I mentioned earlier, most of the rappers on "The Gas" have a firm command of that just-behind-the-beat flow that can elevate a decent track to a great one.

It makes my top 10 list of '08 hip-hop albums, along with Mighty Underdogs, Guilty SImpson and Black Milk.

tray said...

This shit may be great, I love anything that sounds like Mobb Deep, so yeah, not so much on the subliminals (just kidding, I'm sure you had bigger targets than little old me). Like take that Killa Sha album Robbie was pushing earlier this year, maybe last. Nah, I have no problem with people who want to keep the Mobb sound going (though a ton of that revivalist Mobb shit gets overrated, see Return of the Mac), it's more, like, people who try to revive the less gangsta shit from that era who I have beef with. Like people who just rap about how sick their rapping is, and the dopeness of their DJ, and flowers.

Badmon3333 said...

You heard Prodigy's new joint, 'Product of the 80s'? It's HORRIBLE. Even Big Twin (Big T.W.I.N.? Some shit like that), who has one of the coolest rapping voices ever, can't save it.

Dan Love said...

Nice review Doc, you know my feelings about this album.

DocZeus said...

Yeah, this album's most immediate cousin is the Cold Vein but I didn't want to make the obvious allusion and because it's not as good. I mean the Cold Vein is one of the premier underground rap albums of the last decade. There's nothing nearly as great as "The F-Word" on this one. (Not many albums have song that good, anyway...) Still, I quite enjoy it.

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

Firstly, I'm really weirded out that i just posted a blog on urine, and i hop over to your site and find out you have a review on the P brothers. Eerie. That being said.

Good record, just caught with it late last week too. I actually suspect that I'm somewhere in the middle of the How Much Do You Love Boom Bap spectrum, and that I probably lean slightly more towards Timbaland like production than Pete Rock's, but even I enjoyed the record.

The rapping really doesnt detract from the production. but yeah unmemorable at best.

and since you did mention ignoring the whole of canada, its really worth checking out Cadence Weapon's Afterparty Babies - a really fun hip hop record, albeit w/o much of boom bap or crack-rap. Here's a link in case anyone's interested (http://rapidshare.com/files/86099313/rap4u_CW_2008.rar.html ; password: rap4u.at.ua)

tray said...

All I know about Cadence Weapon is they did this fantastic Rick Ross remix.

Jay (d)eff Kay said...

tray - yeh the hustlin remix he cadence weapon did was pretty great. cadence weapon's actually one guy, rollie pemberton - a producer/rapper ala kanye and el-p. and like most producer/rappers, his production skills seems to outshine his abilities as a rapper. his albums a breath of fresh air though, and borrows a lot more from dance and electro sounds than it does boom bap

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

i've only heard one cadence weapon song and it had this gem:

I can’t work day to day and live and starve in the lunchline / That’s why my shows last longer than a Talib Kweli punchline / I rap into the next bar like a Talib Kweli punchline / But I make no sense like a Talib Kweli punchline.

tray said...

He said that??? Dude's my hero. Actually, no, Kweli gets too much hate. He's like the guy you have to diss to gain entry to the snarky blogworld community. Frankly, he's pretty great on 'Respiration,' pretty good on that whole album, pretty good on Quality, and pretty good in his Reflection Eternal work. And when he said, "consider me the entity in the industry without a history of spitting the epitome of stupidity," that was some powerful shit. Now that there is some counterrevisionism for your ass.

Jordan said...

So did you ignore the discography of Mac Dre because it's so huge and daunting, or because you assumed it would suck? I'm assuming the former, but I'm actually having some difficulties because of the latter, Noz or someone should make a 150 minute comp for all the Dre noobs.

Badmon3333 said...

Kweli is sick. On his solo releases, he's not always at the top of his game, but both the 'Liberation' collab with Madlib and Blacksmith 'Movement' mixtape are both hot shit, just in the last couple years.

DocZeus said...

Jordan-

Yeah, it's not anything personal against Mac Dre but his discography is so huge that I don't know where to start and since he doesn't seem to have any seminal, classic albums available I am reticent to jump into his music for fear that I'll pick up the man's Nastradamus and be completely turned off by him.

From what I heard, I actually sort of dig hyphy music. I kind of enjoyed "My Ghetto Report Card", from what I heard I kind of like Mistah F.A.B., and I totally slept-on Turf Talk's album last year. I just don't know where to start with Mac Dre so if anybody would like to put me onto some shit it would be welcomed.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

yea tray, he's good on those early albums, but after Quality, he fell off hard. that line is still great.

tray said...

He sure did fall off hard, but so have Snoop, Mobb Deep, Smif-N-Wessun, Jay, LL, The Beatminerz, to just throw out some random names, and we choose to remember them by their good work. Whereas Talib has become the punchline to every conscious rap joke and the butt of every conscious rap criticism - oh, his flow is bad, what's dude really saying, too many syllables, tries too hard, etc. etc. And I do it all the time too because you meet these crazy people whose favorite rapper is Talib Kweli, so you just reflexively go, "bad flow! He's so boring!" And yeah he had some problems, but his heart was in the right place.

Anonymous said...

This right hurrr, this is my shit.

Seriously, this is the dopest new record i've heard this year. by far. And hearing about that Cannibal Ox shit got me to cop it, I immediately recognized Iron Galaxy from THPS4, thats now one of my favorite albums ever.

Anonymous said...

yo its all about ivory's hear no evil mixtape series

dondon said...

shit is dope.
well collected works.
but nottin except digital bboy
sounds like da ox or el p.
n yeah. boss money is da
old money boss players.still dope
as hell.do the math

SJ said...

it might not show on this particular lp but milano is one of the illest rappers i know and far from generic..
peace

Anonymous said...

P Brothers' earlier shit has pretty much the heaviest beats I've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Through most of 2009 I had this make a star appearance on my mp3 player!!! I really couldn't get enough of it!!! It truly flows so well, the rappers and beats gel sooo well! I would highly recommend it to anyone who want's that next level stuff and feel's they need a change to something phat and pounding!! p.s. Check out Blam Blam for Nottingham!! :-)