Normally at a potluck, people are expected to bring in a dish to be shared by everyone in attendance. You may have baked macaroni, chicken, meatloaf, or someone may even bake a cake. However, in this instance, Humboldt County, California’s own Potluck is bringing green, and plenty of it. For those with virgin lungs (or in this case, ears), Potluck consists of 1-Ton and Underrated, currently signed to Suburban Noize Records. The duo has been steadily releasing albums, dating back to 2000 with their debut album “Humboldt County High.” Recently the self proclaimed stoners released their fifth album in nine years, “Pipe Dreams.”

The album kicks off with “Welcome 2 The Movement”, which opens with a sample from “Hustle & Flow” which helps describe how “undeniable” the movement actually is. The song is a fitting introduction to Potluck’s brand of hip-hop, and sets the stage for the rest of the album. While Potluck may indeed enjoy smoking weed, 1-Ton is quick to let you know that they are about more than just mere potheads:

“The streets they keep on talkin’
Potluck, we keep on rockin’
Our music’s more than fuckin’ whores and smokin’ proper joints
Best believe behind the smoke, your boys got a point
We’re livin’ proof of unity, realness, and self respect
Sacrifice to be the best, captain of my own success
Navigate what life brings
Welcome to our Pipe Dreams”

The Kottonmouth Kings lend a hand on “Stoner Bitch”, an ode to the ladies that like to smoke weed, know how to roll a blunt, and can also grow the Cannabis sativa if needed. In short… a stoner bitch. There’s a random sample from “American Pimp” tossed in to get the point across here. The next few songs further prove 1-Ton’s statement in the intro to be true as the topics range from tolerance to believing that anything we set our minds to is possible. The boys even take the time to send a song out to the ladies who may not be pinup models, but are still real nonetheless on “Real Love.” Potluck’s close bud (pun intended) Joe Brown makes a funny appearance on “Meet Joe Brown”, a skit where Joe outlines his rules regarding relationships between men and women. The music picks back up with “Shut The Fuck Up”, and Underrated spits an angry verse that makes this reviewer think that he had someone in mind when he wrote this:

“But you… you’re too loud, you never shut your fuckin’ mouth
Where I’m from, you flap your gums, you get your teeth knocked out
Or maybe even get buried, if you’re lucky… they might spare ya life
See you in the street, ya gettin’ Kimbo Sliced
And this is really for bitches too, you need to stop talkin’
Just worry about your life, you like to gossip too often
Who did she blow, and who did he fuck
Just watch ‘The Notebook’ or Oprah and shut the fuck up”

While the production of Underrated is exceptional, at times it seems like some of the beats are similar. This is most prominent with “Hotbox Anthem” and “I Got A Problem”, it just so happens that the songs are back to back. On “The Struggle”, Cool Nutz and Tristate come through and share some of the trials and tribulations of the underground MC. Short clips from Steve Harvey, Dave Chappelle (as Rick James), Bernie Mac, Katt Williams, and Chris Rock paired up with a double time flow make “Funny Shit” one of the standout tracks on the album. Krizz Kaliko croons the hook on “She Don’t Wanna Fuck Wit Me”, a joint that tackles heartbreak rather effectively. I don’t know Potluck’s stance in the PC versus Mac war, but the Windows XP sign on melody kicks off “Computer Love”, easily the funniest track on the album… it would be hilarious even if it didn’t have a famous clip from “Napoleon Dynamite.” It chronicles the current trend of how the Internet is replacing conventional ways of procuring sex:

Underrated: “All these little girls be hitting me up
I’m on MySpace and Facebook, and yeah hoe… I like to fuck
But you’re too young, do you have an older sister?
You do? Great, have her email me her picture
All types of girls sending pictures to my inbox
Look here’s another one, all she’s wearing is her lip gloss!”

1-Ton: “Pimpin’ online, she only kinda fine
Damn MySpace pics fuckin’ trick me every time
Yahoo Messenger web cam shows
Every chat room that I go [to], got the same damn hoes
Update your mood, careful who you talkin’ to
‘Cause sometimes that fine girl is really just a fuckin’ dude”

From that point, the album takes a more serious tone as it moves towards the end. Tracks like “Smoke The Pain Away” and “My Dad” touch on hard hitting topics filled to the brim with realness and sincerity. I anticipate many people being able to relate to these songs on some level. “There’s No Limit” is a sociopolitical song aimed at calling out all the things that Potluck see going wrong in society today. Both MCs go nuts on the track, but it is Underrated that takes it to another level:

“The rich get richer and the poor keep dreamin’
If we don’t stick together, then we’ll never get even
They want us to believe that we’re all so different
So we killin’ ourselves, or we endin’ up in prison
It’s the land of the free, the home of the brave
That’s a bunch of bullshit, it’s more like slave to the grave
They use us like rats as they test the new drug
Then they send us to Iraq for the war to shed blood”

“Pipe Dreams” closes out with “2 Minute Drill”, a solo joint by Underrated addressing the perception that White boys can’t rap. He flows with speed and precision that’s just a shade (pun intended, again) beneath Twista or any of the members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

From the jump, Potluck comes at the listener with a combination of humor and real talk that never wavers and balances the album out. It’s similar to how the deep rhyming voice of 1-Ton and the higher pitched voice of Underrated compliment each other. It is that yin and yang that makes this album complete. The diversity of topics solidify the statement in the intro about being about more than mere weed smoking hippies, and after a few listens the listener will know that Potluck is bringing more than just the green to the gathering… they have food for thought and a few other treats as well.

Potluck :: Pipe Dreams
7.5Overall Score