Prince Po & Oh No :: Animal Serum
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Its been a minute since Prince Po dropped a full length album -
2007 in fact - when "Saga of the Simian Samurai" was released. That's not to say he's been inactive
though. He dropped an EP, did cameo appearances, and he's been
steady touring and performing as well. I can understand why
Po would keep it on the humble and be quiet though - the fickle
fans and foul music industry have done him no favors since
Organized Konfusion broke up.
"My inspirational recitals help you stay strong!
I do it from my heart cause God said
Bet a couple of cats they're probably wanting me dead
Strays scheming when I was just trying to share
Better be careful cause karma's a muh'fucker
Never thought I'd see Brazil, London and Spain
Walkin across the bridge by Big Ben in the rain
Humble cause I'm just a regular nigga from Queens
Who got a lot of jewels but I don't rock a chain" - "Keep Reachin"
One thing Prince Poetry has never been though is a "regular
nigga" - he's been an exceptional emcee expertly expressing
his emotions since his inception. Comparisons to former partner
Pharoahe Monch have
served him poorly, since Po is better than 9 out of 10 emcees
in general, and Monch just happens to be the 10th. What Po has
needed to step out of his more celebrated friend's shadow is
the right producer and the right marketing, and "Animal Serum"
already has one out of two locked thanks to
Oh No. No's penchant
for memorable instrumentals is only heightened when teamed
with an advanced lyricist, as "Machine Rages" illustrates.
The tension in the air on the instrumental is as palpable
as the crashing hi-hat cymbals and ringing melody, with Po's
voice itself providing the tempo as much as the track. It's
a powder keg of a song with Oh No holding a whole book of
matches, lighting them and flicking them at your ears. The
whole album has that edge of your seat cinema feel, from the
harrowing heartbeat of "Where U Eat," to a "Toxic" song that
has NOTHING to do with Britney Spears and everything
to do with Po's rapid fire medical flow. "Starflyer Milez"
sounds like a chiptune on acid, filtered and pounded with
bass until it was beaten into hip-hop submission for Po's
self-described "licorice hot licks" and "ice cold bars."
Cameo appearances on "Animal Serum" support Po without
propping him up, unlike so many albums where 83% of the songs
have a guest so you forget the "star" himself is pure asscrack.
"U Already" features two other emcees we don't hear from often
enough - Saafir the Saucee Nomad and Heltah Skeltah star
Rockness Monstah. Fellow underground favorite Sadat X joins
Po for a duet on "Wavy," and in what's sure to be a favorite
for 98% of listeners, the triumvirate of O.C., Po and Monch
reunites for a song that's a pure "Smash." The hotness of
these collaborations may cause listeners to overlook "Bearz"
though - a track with Roc C with an Oh No beat that sounds
like it was tailor made for Daniel Dumile.
It would help the balance of the review if I had something
to criticize about "Animal Serum," but with one of hip-hop's
best producers and best emcee's collaborating, it would truly
have been a tragedy if they DIDN'T make magic together.
It's dark magic to be sure. This is not happy go lucky rap
full of rainbows - but the great Organized Konfusion tracks
like "Prisoners of War" were equally in your face. Take it
from Visionz: "I've got goosebumps, I'm nervous and sweatin/tryin
not to look in the eyes of Armageddon." If you like intelligent
rap that gets under your skin and won't go away, take an
injection of Oh No and Prince Po's "Animal Serum."
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: February 18th, 2014