I never imagined that I would be called upon to do a critical review of an album by an artist coincidentally named after a cheap candy I used to eat out of a plastic dispenser in the shape of Yoda’s head. But here we are; I guess expectations can be thrown out the window when we are talking about hip-hop that originates out of Melbourne, Australia. Based on my knowledge of the music from the down under, from groups like the Hilltop Hoods, it seems to have a more underground purist feel to it as compared to the current popular rap in the States. “A Mind of My Own”, by the 24-year-old emcee Perry Chapman, sticks to that formula with a consistently enticing LP.
From the opening track of this 14-track opus, the listener will experience excellent production that finds a wonderful middle ground between an organic live instrumentals and bouncy beats. “Ain’t Got Time” featuring Count Bounce is one of the numerous highlights on the disc thanks to this multi-layered approach. It starts with an up tempo guitar riff and relentless drums. The most important ingredient is Pez’s inspiring lyrics, which contemplate the urgency of now in a very carpe diem type of way; for example, “My whole life been bracing the day that I make it, to say that I made it, haters aren’t going to take it away.” Pez has a distinctive Aussie accent that might turn off a few ethnocentric individuals, but there is no denying that he has an impeccable spit-fire flow.
Pez effectively explores various subject matters, separating him from the shallow norm. “I Wanna Go” is a celebratory recollection of his personal childhood, which is quite similar to my own (and assumedly many others currently in their mid 20’s) with references to the rollerblade craze and old school videogames. Meanwhile, songs like “The Way It Should Be” try to grasp an understanding of the great disparity between the rich and the poor, while also incorporating how this plays into politics. Some of the opinions on this are arguable as he states:
“Shits out of control cuz of these big power, rich cowards
Look at the twin towers–
If you still think that attack was from terrorists
You need to take closer look at all the evidence
You see with the proof and truth of it that it was nothing more
Than a useful excuse to induce another war”
Whether you agree with the conspiracy theories or not Pez, nonetheless, presents his position in a clear and concise way.
“Speak Out” continues to attack the government big wigs in a more confrontational way over clashing percussion. The sad irony is that it is an embracing of the ideals of Freedom of Speech created by our forefathers. It is a decent track, but Pez is at his best when there is a more joyous tone to his music.
The highlight on the album comes in the form of “The Festival Song.” It is a perfect summer song that will remind listeners of the crisp piano loop on “On My Block” by Scarface or, more thematically, of “Sunshine” by Atmosphere. It goes to show how important simple accessibility is to the potency of music.
“Lost” is not a far second place. The narrative of this gem is similar to a popular Lupe Fiasco song with a stronger emphasis on the distractions that come with being an emcee. That being, a young rap artist making his come up gets caught up in the cars, drugs and women. It ultimately is an ode in remaining pure to the game.
This disc lacks any truly skippable tracks. One of the slower joints, “It All Starts the Show,” is slightly drab, while remaining strangely hypnotic. Any complaint of this album is knit-picking and truly griping for the purpose of dissecting it under a microscope.
The unsung hero of “A Mind of My Own” is the sole producer Matik who constructs solid beats throughout while seamlessly incorporating musical contributions from instrumentalists (TZU, The Cat Empire, Blue King Brown). In fact, it would be wise of some rappers that pay countless dollars on their beat budget to look overseas to great talents like this guy, who often strikes a perfect balance.
Forget about Pez being one of definitive voices of Australian hip-hop’s next generation. With the right opportunity he could be a definitive voice in rap music around the entire globe. Exceptional music is universal, knowing no boundaries, which is favorable for the featured artist. The reason “A Mind Of My Own” is such a success is that his mind is like many of ours, full of the same thoughts and emotion, making it a palatable collection of tracks.